Ottawa provide funds for Montreal Indigenous groups
Ottawa is providing nearly $1 million in funding over four years to the Native Women’s Shelter of Montreal to provide better access to justice for vulnerable members of the community.
This is part of the first collaborative Indigenous justice strategy to address overrepresentation and systemic discrimination in the Canadian justice system.
Federal Justice Minister David Lametti confirmed $919,000 in funding on Tuesday morning, which will be used, among other things, to provide a full-time lawyer to work with the organization and the families who use it.
The money comes from the Funding for the Provision of Legal Services and Support to Racialised Communities programme, for which $21.5 million was allocated in the last budget.
CURBING OVER-REPRESENTATION IN PRISONS
“Currently, many Indigenous families in this country are being broken up by the removal of children by child welfare services,” said shelter director Na’kuset.
Many specialists or lawyers are ill-equipped to help mothers because they are not familiar with the reality of Indigenous peoples, she added.
The services, which will be funded by the Justice Department, will be added to a 23-unit housing project for Indigenous women and their children, which will also include a social pediatrics clinic. The project is expected to open in August.
“We wanted to work with experts to help the women, especially to get their children back. The arrival of a family lawyer will give them hope,” said Na’Kuset.
Lametti hopes that these measures will help reduce the over-representation of Indigenous people in the justice system and in the child welfare community.
“I am aware that it is the flaws in our system that make the work of agencies like the women‘s shelter so essential,” he said.
“We all have a role to play in ending violence against women and LGBTQ people in Indigenous communities,” said Outremont MP Rachel Bendayan. “Our government is committed to fighting discrimination and systemic racism, which have caused generations of trauma to these communities, in addition to social and economic inequality.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on March 14, 2023.
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