THUNDER BAY – The Ontario Native Women’s Association (ONWA) in collaboration with the Ontario Federation of Indian Friendship Centres (OFIFC), Independant First Nations (IFN), and the Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) recently held “For Generations to Come – Summit V to End Violence Against Aboriginal Women” on June 26th to June 28th in Toronto, Ontario.
Through a partnership with the Ministry of Education, the Summit served to bring increased awareness to the prevalent issue of violence against Aboriginal women, and facilitated the collaborative development of educational campaigns for implementation both publicly and within the school systems. Through increased awareness as part of the ongoing efforts of the Strategic Framework to End Violence Against Aboriginal women, ONWA strives to reduce the incidences of violence, thereby improving the quality of life for Aboriginal women and girls across Ontario.
“Our collective goal was to create a forum for dialogue amongst Ministry of Education (MOE) officials, various other ministry representatives, educators, Aboriginal service providers and stakeholders, and other social services agencies to discuss and share information on key MOE Aboriginal policies, in particular those that most greatly affect Aboriginal women and their children and especially those who have witnessed abuse or have been victims of abuse,” explains Betty Kennedy, ONWA Executive Director. “Through this process, we were able to build on and profile existing policies and best practice initiatives that focus on the intersection of violence against Aboriginal women, children and youth.”
This year’s Summit focused on education and supporting Aboriginal youth, in particular those who are more at risk of violence and disengagement in school than their non-Aboriginal counterparts. Youth participation was crucial to the success of the Summit due to their valuable insights into the realities of the educational experience and their commitment to ending violence in our communities.
“We need to strengthen the circle of Aboriginal women at the community level by providing tools and strategies to address violence in a coherent and sustainable manner, “states Dr. Dawn Harvard, President, ONWA Board of Directors. “It is extremely important that we continue to address violence against Aboriginal women and the impacts on children and youth as a priority within our communities and across the province. We are extremely grateful to our Summit participants and to the Ministry of Education for their support in making this possible.”