TORONTO – Today at Queen’s Park, the Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres (OFIFC) launched a public awareness campaign as part of a provincial strategic plan to end violence against Aboriginal women and girls in Ontario. Honourable Tracy MacCharles, Minister of Children and Youth Services, Responsible for Women’s Issues, and Honourable David Zimmer, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs, were present to support the announcement. The OFIFC would like to thank the Women’s Caucus of the Chiefs of Ontario, the Independent First Nations, and the Board of the Ontario Association of Interval and Transition Houses for attending the event.
Kanawayhitowin – Honour Life, End Violence, is a program developed as a result of the strategic plan that has been in place since 2007 which continually serves a framework for action. Kanawayhitowin is a Cree word which means ‘taking care of each other’s spirit’.
Public awareness of Kanawayhitowin includes media placement of messaging and positive visuals of Aboriginal youth in Ontario with TTC ads in Toronto; a 30 second PSA in partnership with CTV North to run in Northern Ontario; advertising in Aboriginal media; a new website; and 9 informational brochures for use in Friendship Centres and other community based organizations. The materials outline nine themes so young people can identify themselves with the content to include recognizing those at risk, cyberbullying, LGBT, Aboriginal culture, Men at Risk, Women at Risk and Safety Planning. The campaign is youth orientated with input over the past year and half from the OFIFC Aboriginal Youth Council.
Since 2007, the OFIFC has worked with the Aboriginal Caucus of the Joint Working Group to End Violence Against Aboriginal Women to develop a strategy towards this goal. Specifically, the OFIFC has worked closely with its network of Friendship Centres throughout Ontario to develop and implement culturally appropriate awareness and prevention tools in areas of education and training. The strategy focuses on ending the isolation abused women feel and emphasizes the empowerment of Aboriginal men to take responsibility and make change.
Since 2009, over 2500 people, including front end staff and community members, have been trained in recognizing and responding to the signs of woman abuse. The program incorporates a wholistic framework that crosses through all generations and includes entire communities by recognizing violence and incorporating a culturally appropriate healing process.
The OFIFC has a complementary campaign called, Kizhaay Anishinaabe Niin: I am a Kind Man, that works with Aboriginal men to stem the cycle of violence by focusing on developing skills towards positive living in a cultural lens.
On Wednesday, November 26th at Lakehead University from 12-1PM – Lakehead University is hosting “Kizhaay Anishinaabe Niin” – I am a Kind Man.
Funding from the former Ontario Women’s Directorate, of the Ministry of Children and Youth, has provided necessary supports for the OFIFC to work with Aboriginal communities to develop effective campaigns mandated to focus on the issues of violence against women, violence witnessed by Aboriginal children, and talking to Aboriginal men about how violence can end.
Although the OFIFC is primarily an urban Aboriginal service provider, this program has engaged rural Aboriginal and First Nations communities.
‘The high rate of violence against Aboriginal women is of great concern to our government and putting a stop to it is a top priority. Honour Life, End Violence is a simple message with great meaning. It calls on all of us to play a role in ending violence against Aboriginal women and girls and to honour their lives. Ontario is proud to support the OFIFC as they champion this campaign and the very important message it conveys,’ says Tracy MacCharles, Minister of Children and Youth Services and the Minister Responsible for Women’s Issues.
“Ontario is proud to support the OFIFC’s Kanawayhitowin – Honour Life, End Violence initiative. The high rates of violence against Aboriginal women and girls are deeply troubling for all of us, and ending this devastating violence is a priority for our government,” said David Zimmer, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs. “Urgent, province-wide action like this initiative are required and we need every voice at the table supporting change and taking action, including the federal government if we are going to create the positive change that is needed.”