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VANCOUVER, January 19, 2007 – On behalf of the Honourable Beverley J. Oda, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Status of Women, the Honourable Chuck Strahl, Minister of Agriculture and Agri Food, Minister for the Canadian Wheat Board, and Member of Parliament (Chilliwack-Fraser Canyon), announced $77,303 in funding for three Aboriginal women’s organizations in British Columbia. The funds will enable the groups to assume leadership roles and play an active role in community development.
“When women have the opportunity to come together and play a leadership role, our entire society benefits,” said Minister Oda. “These projects support the aspirations of Aboriginal women in British Columbia by helping them honour Aboriginal culture and address issues of violence in our communities.”"Aboriginal women must have access to resources that enable them to strengthen their communities in a mutually supportive environment,” said Minister Strahl. “These three organizations will play a key role in helping Aboriginal women in British Columbia meet the challenges they face.”
“The Memorial Pole project represents Aboriginal women and their families and the important role they play in the history and development of their community,” said Gretchen Jordan-Bastow of the Spirits Rising Memorial Society. “Receiving support from the Aboriginal Women’s Program is helping us to realize the potential of this project.”
The Aboriginal Women’s Elders Council will receive $24,999 for its Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre. House Beside the Fire will receive $20,000 for its project, Key To Our Survival–Aboriginal Women’s Role. The Spirits Rising Memorial Society will receive $32,304 for its Spirits Rising Memorial Totem Project.
Canada’s New Government will provide financial assistance through the Aboriginal Women’s Program of Canadian Heritage. This program enables Aboriginal women to influence policies, programs, legislation, and decision-making that affect their social, cultural, economic, and political well-being in their communities and in Canadian society. It includes a component to address issues around family violence and a self-government initiative to support the full participation of Aboriginal women in consultations and decision-making processes.
Director of Communications
Office of the Minister of Canadian Heritage and Status of Women
Regional Affairs Director
Office of the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food
A/Chief of Media Relations
Aboriginal Women’s Elders Council
Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre
The Aboriginal Women’s Elders’ Council is a group formed by Aboriginal Elders working to improve the safety and security of Aboriginal women in Vancouver’s downtown eastside. Using culturally appropriate methods that focus on cultural distinctiveness and preservation of cultural identity, the Council will work to develop effective strategies, solutions, and insights. Methodology based on traditional, social justice, and social development practices and values will bring together front-line workers, stakeholders, and community members to develop community-driven tactics respectful of traditional cultural approaches.
House Beside the Fire
Key To Our Survival – Aboriginal Women’s Role
Based in Morricetown, House Beside the Fire is a group that emerged from the traditional clan system of the Witsuwete’en Nation and works with Witsuwete’en Nation women impacted by violence and abuse in their daily lives, encouraging them to actively participate in self-government initiatives within the community. This project will provide on- and off-reserve Witsuwete’en women with an opportunity to honour the survival of Witsuwete’en women and to examine what is needed for future generations of Witsuwete’en governance and social structures to survive. The women will take part in self-government processes and address family violence in their community by allowing women from each of the four clans to examine their clan’s genealogy, enabling them to maintain matrilineal authority within their family and clans.
Spirits Rising Memorial Society
Spirits Rising Memorial Totem Project
The Spirits Rising Memorial Society is a non-profit organization working to create a memorial totem pole to honour the missing and murdered women of Vancouver’s downtown eastside. Through art, the Society provides training, financial assistance, and life skills to women and young people at risk. Phase I of the project will provide a safe, encouraging environment for at risk Aboriginal women to gather to develop and contribute their ideas and express their pain and grief. Phase I also represents an initial step towards healing through the creation of a totem pole. With the support and guidance of Elders, three community gatherings will be held in the downtown core where invited families, friends, and community members of the missing and murdered women, along with the master carver, will help identify mythical animals from the Aboriginal spirit world and symbols to be carved into the memorial totem pole.
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