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Media Release: Centring Relationships to End Violence

Centring Relationships to End Violence:  Alberta-Based Project Funded by the Federal Feminist Response and Recovery Fund 

July 28, 2021

EDMONTON, ALBERTA—The Alberta Native Friendship Centres Association (ANFCA), the Association of Alberta Sexual Assault Services (AASAS) and the Alberta Council of Women’s Shelters (ACWS) are pleased to announce they will be launching a new initiative made possible by the Feminist Response and Recovery Fund through Women and Gender Equality Canada (WAGE). This 3-year collaborative project, Centring Relationships to End Violence, focuses on reducing intersectional barriers for Indigenous survivors of sexual and domestic violence by strengthening and amplifying community-based approaches. 

The project responds to a gap in addressing the needs of Indigenous survivors of violence in Alberta. Indigenous women and girls fear reporting or seeking supports from non-indigenous agencies due to historical systemic and institutional racism, and they largely do not disclose the violence they experience. Likewise, Indigenous survivors being served through Friendship Centres struggle with naming, acknowledging and openly talking about violence in their lives. Domestic violence shelters and sexual assault service providers are committed to continually building their knowledge and ability to support the unique needs of Indigenous survivors.   

The three provincial organizations involved are all invested in violence prevention, each serving a diverse membership in communities all across Alberta. Thanks to this stream of funding through the Government of Canada, they will now have the formal resources to support an exploration of a deeper collaboration—designed to examine what is already working and what may be lacking to improve access to services and to better meet the needs of Indigenous survivors of violence. 

“We learned from the voices of Indigenous survivors in Canada, in the opening chapter from the Report on MMIWG, that relationships are key to ending violence in the lives of Indigenous people,” says Deb Tomlinson, CEO of the Association of Alberta Sexual Assault Services. “With this funding, our three organizations will build upon and leverage our relationships to address the high rates of violence Indigenous peoples experience in Alberta as a result of years of colonialism and racism.” 

Executive Director of the Alberta Council of Women’s Shelters, Jan Reimer, adds, “Covid-19 has disproportionately impacted women and Indigenous survivors of violence in a negative way, lighting a fire under our need to respond to this ongoing issue. We’re very excited about this opportunity to work collaboratively with two of the leading violence intervention and prevention organizations in the province to address domestic and sexual violence and as part of our commitment to advance the Calls to Justice from the MMIWI.” 

“This initiative will contribute to changing the negative outcomes of violence for Indigenous people including the psychological and behavioural impacts, health and socioeconomic impacts, and their links to the intergenerational transmission of violence and re-victimization,” says Alberta Native Friendship Centres Association Executive Director, Joanne Mason. “Our three provincial organizations are pleased to work towards creating transformational change through strengthened collaborative relationships.” 

Facts: 

  • Compared to 43% of Albertans who have experienced sexual violence in their lifetime, respondents who identified as Indigenous, 66% reported that someone had perpetrated sexual violence against them over the course of their lives. 
  • In Alberta, Indigenous women are 7 times more likely to be a victim of homicide than non-Indigenous women. 
  • Indigenous women also reported that they had experienced spousal violence more than 3 times that of non-Indigenous women. 
  • Indigenous women are 50 – 55% of women admitted to ACWS member shelters since 2012, and their experiences of violence consistently rate them at “extreme” risk of homicide (65-70%). 

Background: 

Alberta Native Friendship Centres Association (ANFCA): 

The Alberta Native Friendship Centres Association (ANFCA, incorporated in 1970) is the Provincial/Territorial Association of 21 Alberta-based member Friendship Centres. The ANFCA supports active member Friendship Centres who, through program and service delivery, engage with and improve the quality of life for urban / off reserve/ off settlement Indigenous people. Our priorities are guided by our member Friendship Centres and subsequently defined by community needs. 

For over 50 years Friendship Centres have provided safe, friendly, welcoming, status-blind Indigenous hubs that provide culturally appropriate programs and services to the approximately 70 percent of the Indigenous population in Alberta reside in urban areas and towns. The 21 Friendship Centres across Alberta deliver annually: 195-200 unique and culturally responsive programs and services, over 30,000 program activities, and 322,189 points of service (2019/2020 stats). https://anfca.com/ 

Association of Alberta Sexual Assault Services (AASAS): 

AASAS is a provincial network made up of 14 sexual assault centres located across the province of Alberta. The sexual assault centres provide a continuum of specialized services informed by research, with the highest standards of care delivered by trained professionals. We are a provincial network of knowledgeable and specialized professionals working from the same values and beliefs. We build on our existing strengths while emphasizing innovative approaches to promote and facilitate healing and transformation and justice for those who have experienced sexual violence in our province. 

For over twenty-seven years, AASAS has been accountable to our provincial membership as an audited not for profit society with a provincial Board of Directors. AASAS has worked with community and government stakeholders to raise awareness of sexual violence and to increase access to services and support for Albertans affected. https://aasas.ca/ 

Alberta Council of Women’s Shelters (ACWS): 

The Alberta Council of Women’s Shelters represents 40 emergency and second-stage sheltering organizations for women and children fleeing violence and abuse. The ACWS provides professional development and training, action-based research and increases public awareness of issues related to family violence for the benefit of abused women and their children. http://acws.ca 

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ACWS Contact:
Olivia Street, Coordinator of Communications & Social Advocacy
780-566-3091   Olivia.Street@acws.ca 

AASAS contact:
Cheryl Wallach, Communications Specialist
403-237-6905, ext. 224   cwallach@aasas.ca 

ANFCA contact: 
Jeannette  MacInnis, Women & Wellness Manager
780-423-3138, ext. 212   womens@anfca.com