Winnipeg Regional Meeting
(August 31, 2016)

On August 31, 2016, the Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Status of Women, hosted a regional roundtable in Winnipeg, Manitoba. This roundtable is part of a broader engagement process to engage stakeholders across the country to inform the development of a federal strategy on gender-based violence. See http://www.swc-cfc.gc.ca/violence/strategy-strategie/index-en.html for more information about the engagement process.

This roundtable brought over 20 stakeholders from Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta together to discuss issues related to gender-based violence that are regionally specific. Participants included representatives from non-governmental organizations, professional associations, provincial advisory councils and universities who work in the areas of: supporting LGBTQQI2S individuals, Indigenous women, francophone women, and newcomers; sexual assault; prevention work in schools; and working with men and boys.

The Honorable Rochelle Squires, Manitoba Minister Responsible for the Status of Women and officials from the provincial governments of Manitoba, Alberta and Saskatchewan were also in attendance.

Highlights

The roundtable discussion is summarized here. This summary should not be interpreted as a comprehensive account of the discussion, nor is it meant to suggest that there was consensus among the participants on the points outlined below.

Some of the regional considerations participants outlined include the:

  • availability of services in rural and remote areas including addressing the fear of reporting, and lack of knowledge of the services that are available
  • challenges of accessing services when individuals change jurisdictions

Participants shared insights about the needs and experiences of specific populations at risk of gender-based violence, including the need to:

  • Embed cultural knowledge into mainstream programming to address the fact that Indigenous women experience high rates of violence yet are less likely to access services. There is also a need to look at the overall systems that make it so that Indigenous women are at higher risk
  • Help immigrants deal with stigma from their cultural community, making it harder to seek help. There has been an increase in the reporting of dating and sexual violence by international students on university campuses in Manitoba
  • Individuals in rural and remote communities face extra barriers as often accessing services can mean moving to larger centres and having to start an entirely new life without social supports in place
  • Increase the availability of services that meet the needs of the LGBTQQI2S community

Gaps identified included the need to:

  • Change the conversation and involve more men. There is a lack of attention on those who perpetrate
  • Increase research and data and move towards standardized terminology to allow more comprehensive statistics
  • Address the extra barriers to accessing services for people who are living outside of their home province
  • Train service providers on trauma informed care as well as coping with vicarious trauma
  • Provide individuals with in person support for police statements and criminal justice processes
  • Provide supports with realistic timelines – often violence doesn’t happen in business hours and issues aren’t resolved after 30 days

Building on what works, participants suggested:

  • More connections among service providers including information sharing
  • Making sure that mainstream organizations are partnered with indigenous organizations as most of the funding for addressing these issues for Indigenous women flows to mainstream organizations
  • Working with children from a young age to ensure young people grow up with safe and accurate information on sex, positive images of women and alternate sexualities and the transformation of rape culture to consent culture
  • Training for professionals including mandating the nurse examiner programs, training community members in small centres to build capacity
  • Working with men to learn positive strategies for themselves and their children
  • The availability of flexible immediate financial support programs so there are solutions at the time victims seek help, for example being able to put them in a hotel until a shelter bed is available rather than turning them away

Overall, participants highlighted that the federal strategy should recognize:

  • Sexual violence as distinct from domestic violence
  • The need to address these issues across sectors and in a coordinated manner
  • The solutions are not always found in new approaches, expanding successful approaches may have a bigger impact
  • We need societal change such as that experienced around the issues of drunk driving and smoking; conversations have to be both national and community wide
  • That this work is important and deserves stable funding
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