The Government of Ontario announced April 18 funding for three research projects to support a more appropriate response from law enforcement authorities when dealing with incidents of sexual violence and harassment against Indigenous women, and to encourage more survivors to report sexual violence. The announcement was made at the Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres.
Photo: Sylvia Maracle, executive director the Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres, Yasir Naqvi, minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services, and Tracy MacCharles, minister Responsible for Women’s Issues.
“Sexual violence and harassment perpetrated against Indigenous women and girls is underreported due to a lack of various supports,” said Sylvia Maracle, executive director of the federation. “Culturally-grounded research in this area will give voice to those who need it while inviting the system to better respond.
“The intent is to create safe and receptive environments allowing Indigenous women to come forward to report crimes without fail, shame or indifference.”
Ontario is investing $250,000 in research to explore on-reserve First Nations police reporting, responses, support services and investigative practices; the impact of police involvement on the use of services at Ontario’s sexual assault treatment programs by Indigenous women and girls; and how Indigenous women and girls experience sexual violence reporting, and how response practices may be made more positive and culturally-responsive, with better outcomes.
This research is part of Ontario’s “It’s Never Okay” plan to end sexual violence and harassment, and supports “Walking Together”, a strategy to end violence against Indigenous women. The strategy can be accessed here: Walking Together: Ontario’s Long-Term Strategy to End Violence Against Indigenous Women.
The results of the research will be considered when developing policies and programs to better support victims of sexual violence. “Indigenous women experience significantly greater rates of violence – and it is an urgent priority for our government to end this violence and to ensure survivors have the support needed to heal,” said Tracy MacCharles, Minister Responsible for Women’s Issues.
“This investment is important because it will enable us to address gaps and identify better practices that will ensure more compassionate and culturally-appropriate support for survivors.”