$103M earmarked for Indigenous women's shelters

OTTAWA, Ont.—Federal ministers recently announced that Indigenous women's shelters in Canada will receive $103 million in funding from the federal government, to help women and girls who have been victims of violence. The investment is intended to provide at least 178 shelter spaces and transitional houses.

The funding will support 22 projects in 21 communities across the country, off and on reserves, in the north and in urban areas.

The funding does come with a couple of problems, Sen. Michèle Audette says. While the money addresses one of the key recommendations of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls' (MMIWG) regarding providing long-term, sustainable funding for shelters, the funding level will still need to be reassessed each year. Organizations will also have to compete for funding by submitting proposals. Audette says this could mean that groups that don't have the opportunity to hire a consultant to help them with proposals could be left out of receiving potential help.

While some may find challenges with the federal support, others feel it will change lives and even save lives. For instance, one of the recipients is the Newfoundland Aboriginal Women's Network, which is building a transition house where women will be able to stay for six months.

"We are very, very thankful because in our area right now, some women who are fleeing violence have to drive long distances," said network president Odelle Pike, explaining that some women have to drive at least two hours to get to the nearest transition house, which leaves many stuck in dangerous environments.

The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) is providing $81 million for construction, while Indigenous Services Canada is giving $15 million for operational support and $7.8 million for start-up costs. 

The funding comes out of a $724.1 million envelope from the violence prevention strategy announced in the 2020 fall economic statement.

So far, $4.38 million has been dispersed for four projects, according to CMHC.

Applications are open for other projects until March 2024. The CMHC is spending $420 million over five years on the work.

The new shelters and transition facilities will be built in the following locations:

• Heiltsuk First Nation, British Columbia

• Dena Tha' First Nation, Alberta

• Makwa Sahgaiehcan First Nation, Saskatchewan

• Cross Lake First Nation, Manitoba

• Fisher River Cree Nation, Manitoba

• Sapotaweyak Cree Nation, Manitoba

• Beausoleil First Nation, Ontario

• Pikangikum First Nation, Ontario

• Fort Albany First Nation, Ontario

• Northern Village of Puvirnituq, Quebec (Transitional Home)

• Northern Village of Puvirnituq, Quebec (Shelter)

• Fort Frances Tribal Area, Ontario

• Garden River First Nation, Ontario

• Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug First Nation, Ontario

• Municipality of Sanikiluaq, Nunavut

• Montagnais de Pakua Shipi, Quebec

• Tobique First Nation, New Brunswick

• Tataskweyak Cree Nation, Manitoba

• Winnipeg, Manitoba

• Cape Breton, Nova Scotia

• St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador

• Stephenville, Newfoundland and Labrador

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