Family Violence Initiative

COMPENDIUM OF PROMISING PRACTICES TO REDUCE VIOLENCE AND INCREASE SAFETY OF ABORIGINAL WOMEN IN CANADA – COMPENDIUM ANNEX: DETAILED PRACTICE DESCRIPTIONS

INTERACTIONS WITHIN COMMUNITIES

Support Networks for the Families of Murdered and/or Missing Aboriginal Women

Program name:

Families of Sisters in Spirit

Organization:

Families of Sisters in Spirit

Location:

Ottawa, Ontario

Target Group:

Aboriginal women and girls and the families of those missing or murdered.

Contact Name:

Bridget Tolley or Kristen Gilchrist

Phone:

N/A

Email:

familiesofsistersinspirit@gmail.com

Website:
Program Overview
History:

The program began in January of 2011 and has grown considerably in terms of community support and partnerships with other family members and allies. The program arose out of the recognition that there has been too little support for families of missing and murdered Aboriginal women, and often they do not know where and how to find help in their search for information. Families of Sisters in Spirit is one cost-effective way to help accomplish this.

Program Description
Goals & Objectives:

To provide emotional and financial support for families of missing and murdered Aboriginal women and girls. To promote grassroots and institutional awareness on the issue.

Traditional/Indigenous ways:

The program respects and acknowledges Aboriginal Elders, teachings, medicines and the cultural practices of Aboriginal peoples.

Components of program:

The program has helped to support and organize rallies, vigils, public discussions and forums. It also seeks to build alliances with Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal organizations.

Services/How they work:

Services are based upon individual client needs. Some require accommodation, travel allowances, travel vehicles etc. Services are provided throughout Canada.

Funding:

Funding comes from "our own pockets"; also obtains small donations from community members and community organizations, and held a fundraising dinner/entertainment on April 29, 2011. Two fundraising events have also been organized by Amnesty International and the local band, Dustbowl Daddies; this goes toward the costs of helping to bring in families for events and forums.

Relationships and Stakeholders
Involvement of Target Groups:

Aboriginal women and families of missing and murdered Aboriginal women and girls are given a leadership role in driving the work, reflecting on it, providing feedback, marketing, especially via Facebook.

Partners:

Amnesty International, KAIROS Canada, Ecumenical Justice Initiatives, Minwaashin Lodge-Aboriginal Women's Support Centre, Walk 4 Justice, Native Youth Sexual Health Network, Prostitutes of Ottawa-Gatineau Work, Educate and Resist (POWER), Indigenous People's Solidarity Movement Ottawa (IPSMO), Project of Heart, Women's Resource Centre,- University of Ottawa, Women's Centre, Carleton University, AIDS Committee Ottawa, Missing Justice, Ontario Public Interest Group (OPIRG)/ Group de Recherce D'interet Publique D'Ontario (GRIPO) Carleton University and University of Ottawa, Occupy Ottawa: Indigenous Solidarity Action

Other relationships:

N/A

Details of Program Evaluation
Evaluation:

No evaluation has been completed.

Highlights of Evaluation Findings:

N/A

Program Outcomes
Measures of Success:

Ensuring that families are central and always represented by Families of Sisters in Spirit, joining together (alliances, both formal and informal networks) with Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal communities in solidarity, love, and support for families of missing and murdered Aboriginal women

Achievements:

Bringing families together, having Aboriginal women's voices heard on their own terms, building community and friendships, raising awareness at the community, organizational and governmental levels, sharing missing person alerts on-line which have led to women and girls being found safely

Challenges:

Working without a budget is a very big challenge considering how large the problem is and how many families need support. But at this time the program uses a grassroots approach which does not accept funding from government sources or from those who do not allow families and Aboriginal women to lead. Families of Sisters in Spirit continues to raise money with, and through, community partners.

Things to Know to Replicate
Replication Advice:

The program is considered replicable. The underlying concept of Families of Sisters in Spirit is to support the families of missing and murdered Aboriginal women, and to do this in a respectful, caring way that involves them as much as possible.

Resources:

Access to internet, volunteers, and financial funding to assist clients.

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