Canada: Close the funding gap to ensure safety and support for Indigenous women and girls escaping violence

Every woman and girl has the right to live in safety without threat of violence, intimidation, or harassment.

Canadian government statistics show that First Nations, Inuit, and Métis women and girls face much higher rates of violence than all other women and girls in Canada. Large gaps in government support for services to First Nations, Inuit, and Métis communities deny Indigenous women and girls supports they need to escape and recover from this violence.

There are roughly 15 shelters and transition houses serving 53 Inuit communities across the Arctic. Some of these shelters are extremely small and most communities are accessible only by air.

The federal department of Indigenous and Northern Affairs reports that it provides funding for only 41 shelters to serve the 634 recognized First Nations communities in Canada. According to the National Aboriginal Circle Against Family Violence, as of January 2018 only 38 shelters were operational.They do not provide funding to shelters in Inuit communities.

As a result, many Indigenous women and girls, especially in the north, are hours away from the nearest shelter. If they are able travel this distance they may discover that the shelter doesn’t have room for them. Furthermore, the cost of flights can often be prohibitive.

First Nations, Inuit and Métis women and girls have greater access to shelters if they live in urban centres, but these shelters may not provide services and programs tailored to their specific needs.

In 2015, the Prime Minister promised a renewed nation-to-nation relationship with Indigenous Peoples. That renewed relationship must also be firmly rooted in the federal government’s commitment to gender equality for all women and girls in Canada. The federal government has announced increases in funding for violence prevention programs for Indigenous women and girls, but the measures taken to date are not enough to close the gap in safety and support and to achieve equality.

Please speak out now and contact Minister Philpott without delay.

  • Start with “Dear Minister Philpott” and a sentence or two about yourself.
  • Urge the federal government to work closely with its provincial and territorial counterparts, and with organizations representing shelters and First Nations, Inuit, and Métis women and girls to close the gap in supports for Indigenous women and girls escaping violence.
  • State that this must include increase funding for shelters in First Nations, Inuit, and Métis communities and measures to ensure that shelters serving Indigenous women in urban centres have the tools and resources to create a culturally safe space and provide culturally relevant programming.
  • Express your concern that the need is urgent and that the federal government must not wait for the conclusion of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls before it acts.

Contact information:

The Honourable Seamus O’Regan
Minister of Indigenous Services
Terrasses de la Chaudière
10 Wellington, North Tower
Gatineau, QC K1A 0H4


Twitter @SeamusORegan

Join Amnesty International’s No More Stolen Sisters campaign to end violence against Indigenous women and girls in Canada. Learn more from the National Aboriginal Circle Against Family Violence and Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada.