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

Raising Awareness in Broader Community

Program name:

Stolen Sisters

Organization:

Amnesty International Canada

Location:

Ottawa, Ontario

Target Group:

Urban Indigenous Women, Political Organizations.

Contact Name:

Craig Benjamin

Phone:

613-744-7667 ext. 235

Email:

cbenjamin@amnesty.ca

Website:

www.amnesty.ca

Program Overview
History:

The program was started in 2002 and has been ongoing with no interruption in services since that time. The program was initially strongly focussed on research, to explain the dimensions of violence that were little known, particularly regarding violence in urban settings. The character and patterns of violence against Indigenous women have been discussed far more in Canada than anywhere else in the world. This program seeks to further address this issue.

Program Description
Goals & Objectives:

To increase awareness of the extent of violence facing Indigenous women. To foster an environment in which Indigenous women's organizations can implement solutions to this issue.

Traditional/Indigenous ways:

Healing circles were utilized in place of traditional western research processes to gather the information regarding these issues. The program seeks to bring in ceremonies or traditions in every possible process.

Components of program:

The program strives to mobilize awareness activities (such as vigils and meetings with police and government personnel) of Indigenous grassroots women and organizations. It also seeks to maintain international connections in all human rights committees to ensure that the issue of violence against Indigenous women remains a part of the ongoing discussion. The program also focuses on research aimed at exploring the dimensions of violence against Indigenous women, particularly regarding violence in urban settings.

Services/How they work:

Services are provided nationally through Amnesty International events.

Funding:

Funding received from Amnesty International Canada.

Relationships and Stakeholders
Involvement of Target Groups:

One of the founding principles Amnesty/ Stolen Sisters uses is to ensure that what is spoken is in partnership with the affected families and communities. If there are opportunities to meet with police, governments, those with first-hand experience would be invited to be a part of the talking and discussions; everything that has been planned has followed that approach. No one expects that everyone will all have the same opinions about things, but the aim is to have all those voices heard, without being selective and not just promoting those who agree with Amnesty/Stolen Sisters. There is such a diversity of voices, so many families, and communities that have a stake in this crisis, it sometimes comes down to what is pragmatic in that situation, but the model of inclusion is Amnesty/Stolen Sisters' aim.

Partners:

Native Women's Association of Canada, all of the National Aboriginal organizations, KAIROS, the National Association of Friendship Centres and the National Aboriginal Health Organization.

Other relationships:

Aboriginal women's shelters and organizations.

Details of Program Evaluation
Evaluation:

An evaluation has been completed (2006).

Highlights of Evaluation Findings:

Developing external relations with partners was a great success but internal management needed more development.

Program Outcomes
Measures of Success:

There has been a tremendous shift in public opinion, measured by the number of non-Aboriginal community members that have moved from indifference and apathy on violence against Indigenous women, to now seeing it as a crucial Canadian issue. This is a concrete and significant change.

Achievements:

A genuine deep change at the grassroots level of society.

Challenges:

It's extremely hard for government to shift away from addressing concerns singly – such as with a program or making a policy, but violence against Indigenous women must be addressed from a coordinated cross-sectional, cross –departmental perspective. Comprehensive national plans are not there in the context of the most pressing and serious issue against Aboriginal women in Canada.

Things to Know to Replicate
Replication Advice:

The interviewee does not think the program is replicable because Amnesty/Stolen Sisters' work is so connected to its organizational goals.

Resources:

N/A

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