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Provincial government recognizes issues important to all women

The Manitoba government launched a series of initiatives to recognize issues important to all women in the province.

According to the province’s Nov. 26 announcement, the Calls for Justice of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) will become a vital part of its approach to advance truth and reconciliation. In the legislative amendments, the Manitoba government affirms it will follow the recommendations of the National Inquiry into MMIWG, the calls for action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and the principles of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

“It is necessary that Manitoba acknowledges the Calls for Justice within the Path to Reconciliation Act to shine further light on the importance of addressing the systemic causes of all forms of violence, including sexual violence, against Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA+ peoples. Adding the calls to the act will better position work across all of government to advance healing and prevent future harm,” said Indigenous Reconciliation and Northern Relations Minister Alan Lagimodiere.

Grand Chief Garrison Settee of Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak had recommended that the Manitoba government publicly affirm its commitment to the Calls for Action in its work on truth and reconciliation. According to him, the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls produced a final report that outlines the framework and concrete steps for addressing the issues that contribute to gender-based violence affecting Indigenous women, girls, Two-Spirit people, and others.

“I honour the impacted families, survivors of gender-based violence, and Two-Spirit and gender-diverse people for sharing their truths and commend the province for taking steps to incorporate a pathway for Reclaiming Power and Place,” Settee said. “Transformative change is a journey we must all walk together, rooted in action and accountability. We are looking forward to working with the province in developing a distinctions-based action plan.”

Lagimodiere noted that addressing violence, particularly the incidences of MMIWG, is a priority for the Manitoba government. It intends to continue to take action to prevent and combat gender-based violence of all forms.
Ministers for Sport, Culture, and Heritage, Rochelle Squires, and Mental Health, Wellness, and Recovery Audrey Gordon announced on the same day that the Province will invest $30,000 in online mental health and addiction training for domestic violence staff.

“Domestic violence occurs in every community, affecting people of all ages, socio-economic status, sexual orientation, gender, race, religion, and nationality; this month provides us the opportunity to reflect on the challenges that remain and to recognize we all have a role to play in protecting our most vulnerable community members,” Cox said.

The province declared November as Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Thus, the provincial government said it is committing to better providing support to meet vulnerable citizens’ needs.
The grant will assist the Manitoba Association of Women’s Shelters in developing a virtual training program for domestic and family violence agencies on mental health and addictions. Manitoba funds 30 such agencies across the province, offering emergency shelters, women’s resources, and second-stage and specialized services.

Deena Brock, provincial co-ordinator at MAWS, explained they will work with the University of Manitoba Faculty of Social Work and RESOLVE to develop a training program for the gender-based violence sector day operations and 24/7 residential staff in Manitoba.

“Women’s shelters and gender-based violence prevention service providers have identified gaps in staff knowledge regarding the intersections between mental illness, substance use dependence, and family violence. This course will provide more robust training to staff who support clients presenting with complex and diverse needs,” Brock added.

A group of individuals representing the family violence sector has partnered with MAWS to find a suitable partner for designing the online training program and selected RESOLVE and the Faculty of Social Work at the University of Manitoba. Researchers with RESOLVE conduct research and education in the Prairie provinces to reduce the incidence and impact of family and gender-based violence.

“RESOLVE is pleased to partner with the University of Manitoba Faculty of Social Work and MAWS on this valuable initiative to support the work of the family violence sector,” said Kendra Nixon, RESOLVE director and associate professor in the Faculty of Social Work at the UofM. “RESOLVE is a Prairie-based research network that co-ordinates and supports research aimed at ending gender-based violence, especially violence against women and girls. We are looking forward to working closely with our partners on this online training program as a way to develop tangible solutions for reducing the incidence and impact of gender-based violence in our communities.”

Investing in mental health, trauma, and addictions services for women in vulnerable positions is part of Manitoba’s response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action and the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls National Inquiry’s Call for Justice.

“It is important for staff who are the point of first contact for women at a particularly vulnerable time, to access current knowledge of the multiple and overlapping impacts of trauma, mental health issues, and substance use,” said Kathryn Levine, associate professor, Faculty of Social Work, University of Manitoba. “This program will incorporate evidence-informed approaches to practice that will facilitate the provision of services that are responsive to women’s needs.”

The project is funded by the Canada-Manitoba Home and Community Care and Mental Health and Addictions Services Funding Agreement. The virtual training program is expected to be rolled out in early 2022.

– Ligia Braidotti, U Multicultural

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