Forum seeks to protect women and children from violence

Protecting and honouring women and children in society was the topic of a well-attended forum hosted by Snuneymuxw First Nation.

Protecting and honouring women and children in society was the topic of a well-attended forum hosted by Snuneymuxw First Nation earlier this month.

The forum, an effort to respond to violence against women and children in the mid-Island region, was attended by First Nations, government, non-profit and community at-large representatives.

“This region has been struck by many tragic events in recent years, which have highlighted how much work we must still do to build communities where violence against women and children is wholly rejected and condemned, said Snuneymuxw Chief Douglas White III in a press release. “The forum places a focus on both the disproportionate risks suffered by aboriginal women and children, as well as challenges facing all communities and citizens of the region.”

Main presenters at the forum included: Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond of Representative for Children and Youth; Wendy Grant-John, chairwoman of the Minister’s Advisory Council on Aboriginal Women; Grace Elliott Nielson, executive director of Tillicum Leland; Ann Spilker, executive director of Haven Hoouse Society; and White.

Bill Yoachim, executive director of Kw’umut Lelum Child and Family Services which co-hosted the session, said he sees the event a single step in what will be a larger process to unify a strategy by many agencies working toward similar goals.

“There are so many focused and well-intentioned individuals and organizations who are making great efforts to assist families and communities to move from conditions of violence to conditions of peace. What is needed is more of a shared vision of where we need to head, and shared actions that implement that vision,” said Yoachim.

It is expected the forum will spawn further dialogue and an action plan beginning in early 2012, followed by another forum in the spring.