TORONTO – “Sexual violence and harassment is never okay and government has a key role to play in making sure survivors of sexual violence feel safe reporting their experiences and seeking justice. These grants will help us identify gaps and best practices, so that we can develop tools to improve police responses and investigations to help indigenous women across the province. Our aim is to ensure survivors receive a dignified and compassionate response when they make the choice to report their experience and seek justice,” Easier Naqvi, Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services.
Ontario is investing in three research projects to support a more compassionate, sensitive and culturally 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.
“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. 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,” added Tracy MacCharles, Minister Responsible for Women’s Issues.
Ontario is investing a total of approximately $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.
- 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 It’s Never Okay, Ontario’s ground-breaking action plan to end sexual violence and harassment, and supports Walking Together: Ontario’s Long-Term Strategy to End Violence Against Indigenous Women. The results will help inform future policies and programs to better support survivors. The province recently released its 2015-16 Progress Report, which highlights the unprecedented actions Ontario has taken in the last year to help end sexual violence and harassment in the province.
Investing in research to create a safer, more inclusive and more equitable province is part of the government’s plan to provide more security, protection and opportunity for Indigenous women and communities.
- Indigenous women in Canada are three times more likely to experience violence than non-Indigenous women.
- It is estimated that one in three Canadian women experiences sexual assault.
- Research indicates that fewer than four per cent of sexual assaults are reported to police.
- Ontario has committed $41 million over three years to support implementation of the Sexual Violence and Harassment Action Plan.
- Ontario will host the fifth National Aboriginal Women’s Summit in the fall of 2016.
- It’s Never Okay: An Action Plan to Stop Sexual Violence and Harassment.
- Walking Together: Ontario’s Long-Term Strategy to End Violence Against Indigenous Women.
“Indigenous partners have told us there has always been a gap in the justice system. Projects like these will help bridge that gap. Indigenous women and communities need access to a justice system that is fair and provides culturally-appropriate supports. Our government is committed to end violence against Indigenous women and these grants reflect that,” added David Zimmer Minister of Aboriginal Affairs.
“Sexual violence and harassment perpetrated against Indigenous women and girls is underreported due to a lack of various supports. 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. ,” concluded Sylvia Maracle, Executive Director, Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres (OFIFC).