The chief of the Keeseekoowenin Ojibway First Nation says a new emergency shelter coming to the community will allow women and children looking to get out of abusive situations a place to seek refuge without having to travel far distances to get help.
The Keeseekoowenin Ojibway First Nation, which sits about 100 kilometres north of Brandon and is home to about 500 residents, announced on Tuesday that thanks to funding from the federal government, an emergency shelter that will be known as the Migiziwazison Healing Lodge, will be built in the community.
The funding comes from a federal program that will establish a total of 12 emergency shelters in First Nations communities across the country.
Keeseekoowenin Ojibway First Nation Chief Norman Bone said one of the reasons the new shelter will be so important is because it will allow those seeking help an opportunity to find it much closer to home.
“This is really needed here,” Bone said. “Right now if people need help they have to travel to Brandon or to Dauphin, so it’s a harder process to seek help.
“We need these kinds of resources right here in the community.”
And with a number of neighbouring First Nations communities also situated in the area, Bone said the shelter will also help those surrounding communities.
According to the federal government, families in Waywayseecappo First Nation, O-chi-chak-ko sipi First Nations, Tootinowaziibeeng First Nations, Gambler First Nation, Rolling River First Nation, Pine Creek First Nation, Ebb & Flow First Nation and Skownan First Nation will all have access to the shelter.
“We are looking at this as a way to serve not only our community but all the communities in the area,” Bone said. “This is going to be a regional service for us, and it will offer so much needed help and support.”
Bone says that as the community prepares for the new facility, he also hopes it spawns other programs and services so that fewer people need to seek refuge from violence in the first place.
“We want this set up not only for woman and children, but as something where we will see resources and programming come to the community. What we really want to see is more healing programs, as we need to work with people to find out where the anger is coming from, because that is where that abuse stems from.”
In the press release, it was also stated that the Migiziwazison Healing Lodge will also develop “culturally appropriate healing programs for families trying to overcome violence or other situations that disrupt the well-being of the family and home.”
According to Statistics Canada, in 2018 five of the 12 Manitobans killed by their partners in Manitoba lived in First Nations communities.
In 2014 a Statistics Canada's country-wide survey on self-reported domestic violence found that Indigenous women were about three times more likely to report being a victim of spousal violence as non-Indigenous women.
The Province of Manitoba said on their website that anyone dealing with an abusive relationship, or who may know someone who may be in an abusive relationship can seek help by calling 1-877-977-0007.
— Dave Baxter is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the Winnipeg Sun. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.
Dave Baxter, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Winnipeg Sun