A woman holds an eagle feather and red dress as she listens to speakers during National Day of Truth and Reconciliation ceremonies on Parliament Hill September 30, 2021 in Ottawa. Red dresses have become a symbol for missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls in Canada. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

A woman holds an eagle feather and red dress as she listens to speakers during National Day of Truth and Reconciliation ceremonies on Parliament Hill September 30, 2021 in Ottawa. Red dresses have become a symbol for missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls in Canada. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

B.C. announces $5.34 million to combat violence against Indigenous women

Funds will be delivered through the B.C. Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres

The B.C. Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres has been tasked with distributing a new provincial fund to increase safety in Indigenous communities.

The $5.34-million Path Forward Community Fund was announced Monday (April 11), with the promise to combat violence against Indigenous women, girls and LGBTQ2S people.

It will be delivered by Indigenous people for Indigenous people through the association of friendship centre’s 25 B.C. locations. Projects will focus on safety planning and capacity building within rural and urban communities, to ensure self-determined, culturally-safe solutions.

Leslie Varley, executive director of the B.C. Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres, said the announcement comes as a relief after so many years of Indigenous women and girls being disproportionately targeted.

READ ALSO: Red Dress Day honours Canada’s missing and murdered Indigenous people

According to 2015 data from the Canadian RCMP, Indigenous women represented 10 per cent of all missing women cases in the country, despite only making up four per cent of the population. In the 14-year period from 2001 to 2015, Statistics Canada reported the homicide rate for Indigenous women was nearly six times higher than that for non-Indigenous women.

“We have lost so many women and girls who should have been protected by Canadian society,” Varley said Monday, pointing to substandard service from police and the justice system as part of the issue.

Much of the violence Indigenous women and girls have faced and continue to face is outlined in the National Inquiry in Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls final report.

Speaking Monday, Minister of Public Safety Mike Farnworth said the new fund is in direct response to recommendations laid out in the report. He said it’s in addition to $20 million the province announced to go toward regional emergency sexual assault services.

READ ALSO: B.C. expands grant program for community sexual assault response


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