‘Absolutely vital work’: Feds invest $7M to address, combat gender-based violence in Manitoba, Saskatchewan

Dave Baxter, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Winnipeg Sun

More than $7 million in federal money will be spent to help several organizations that are working to address and combat gender-based violence, and prevent violence against women, girls and 2SLGBTQI+ people, the federal government announced Monday.

“Gender-based violence knows no boundaries; it affects individuals of all ages, races, socio-economic status, and backgrounds,” Minister of Northern Affairs Dan Vandal said at a media conference held Monday in Winnipeg.

“It tears at the fabric of our communities and undermines the principles of justice, and the principles of equality that we all hold dear.”

Vandal was joined by Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Youth Marci Ien at The Forks on Monday to announce the federal government will provide funding of $7.4 million to 17 organizations based in Manitoba and Saskatchewan that work to prevent and address gender-based violence.

“We are committing significant resources to 17 organizations to make sure they have the tools and the funding that they need to carry on their absolutely vital work,” Vandal said.

According to Vandal, the money will be used to “address gender-based violence at its core” and for initiatives and projects that include research and data collection, support services and educational programs.

Vandal said the goal will be to “challenge the root causes of gender-based violence and promote healthy relationships,” while the feds will also look to slow the rates of gender-based violence against Indigenous women and girls.

“Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQI+ people are disproportionately affected by gender-based violence, as well as experiences of stigma, exclusion, and marginalization,” Vandal said.

“The impacts of these experiences are broad and felt across generations, and our government is supporting those impacted to break that cycle.”

According to the federal government, among all provinces in Canada, the highest rate of gender-related homicide of women and girls was reported in Saskatchewan (1.03), followed by Manitoba (0.72) both of which were above the national rate (0.54). Manitoba and Saskatchewan also recorded the highest provincial rates of homicide and overall violent crime in 2021.

Statistics also show that in rural areas in both Manitoba and Saskatchewan, rates of intimate partner violence are “significantly higher” than in urban areas.

Ien said she believes a big factor in combating gender-based violence will be for governments and organizations to continue collecting data that shows where violence is happening, and to whom.

“If you don’t have good numbers, then how can you go about creating good policy? Numbers drive policy, and that’s what drives change,” Ien said.

“These direct federal investments, alongside the National Action Plan to End Gender-based violence, are about keeping people safe, supporting frontline workers, and making sure that we are addressing the root causes of gender-based violence.”

Of the more than $7 million, approximately $5 million will fund projects at 11 Manitoba-based organizations, including the Manitoba chapter of Ending Violence Association Canada, The Manitoba Association of Friendship Centres Inc., The Pas Family Resource Centre, the Elmwood Community Resource Centre., Circling Buffalo Inc., and the Southern Chiefs’ Organization Inc.

— Dave Baxter is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the Winnipeg Sun. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.