Violence against women is sadly and an all too common tragedy. But in British Columbia, young Aboriginal women are particularly at-risk.
Ending Violence Association of BC found that there are over 1,000 cases of gender-based violence each week, but only 12 per cent are reported to the police. The province has also reported the highest number of missing Indigenous women out of every other province in Canada, with over 580 women missing.
Despite these upsetting statistics, there is incredible work being done to support women who have survived violence.
There are over 90 shelters for women escaping violence in the BC Transitional Housing system alone, and their shelter map shows women the closest option for them and their children. Over 100 organizations offer counselling services for women to access, and many are specialized to support Aboriginal women.
Friendship Centres, which are often the first point of contact for many urban Aboriginal people, provide a wide range of services that directly relate to family and domestic violence. There are 25 Friendship Centres across British Columbia that offer frontline services to women fleeing violence and subsequent family supports. Additionally, the BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres hosts many different initiatives that work towards ending violence, including an Action Plan.
Unfortunately, without community and government leadership, these services will continue to be overburdened with long waitlists. The most important thing to remember is that violence against Indigenous women is a solvable problem. The BC Lions committed to ending violence and being leaders for young men with their Be More Than A Bystander campaign. The RCMP is working with the Surrey Women’s Centre and Ending Violence Association of BC through the BC Missing Women Network. There is considerable leadership coming from the Moose Hide Campaign in engaging men in ending violence, and Butterflies in Spirit brings awareness to the issue of MMIW.
We all can work together to end violence. All it takes is everyone standing up to say we won’t accept violence in our communities.