During last week’s National Aboriginal Women’s Summit, Ottawa promised First Nations $56 million.
The money will go to family violence prevention programs on reserves across the country.
It won’t help the North.
“The on-reserve requirement basically excludes the territories,” said Women’s Directorate Minister Elaine Taylor, who attended last week’s conference in Corner Brook, Newfoundland.
“(The territories) have next to no reserves, as identified under the Indian act,” she said.
“So, that on-reserve application has next to no application here in the North.
“However, we would like our fair share of that money.”
This isn’t the first time federal funding has failed northern First Nations, said Taylor.
In October, Ottawa gave $6 million in one-time funding.
The money was supposed to address the immediate needs of existing, on-reserve shelters and to help First Nation communities improve family violence prevention programs and services.
Again, it excluded First Nations in the North.
Taylor, together with the two other northern ministers responsible for Status of Women, wrote Indian and Northern Affairs Minister Jim Prentice a joint letter of concern.
“We said, ‘If you can’t make available at least of portion of the $6 million for the North, at least come up with separate funding,” she said.
“There was no uptake on that.
“However, when you take a look at the statistics, they continue to demonstrate a need for shelters and safe places for women fleeing violence.
“And the number of cases of spousal assault and family violence are much higher in the North than they are in southern Canada.”
One key theme kept resurfacing at the Aboriginal Women’s Summit, said Taylor.
“Throughout the whole conference aboriginal women, kept saying, ‘when we say aboriginal we mean inclusive regardless of status or non-status, on-reserve or off-reserve, urban or remote, or Inuit.
“So it is unfortunate that Canada chose to make this announcement.”
Restricting funding to reserves also affects southern communities where aboriginal women choose to leave reserves, or may be force to leave the reserves.
“I commend the federal government for coming up with new dollars to address family violence in our community,” she said.
“However they also do have a fiduciary responsibility to take a look at all the other areas.”
During her closing remarks at the summit, Taylor referenced the problems northern First Nations have when funding is allocated to reserves.
Minutes later, Canadian Heritage and Status of Women Minister Bev Oda announced the $56 million in funding for reserve-based programs.
“We plan to take it up again with government and reiterate our concerns and point out the inequities,” said Taylor.