Quebec providing $25.8 million to address domestic violence in Indigenous communities

To combat the rise of domestic violence in Quebec, the provincial government announced $25.8 million in funding for Indigenous communities over five years to create new shelters and assist local police services.

The minister of public safety, Geneviève Guilbault, said the province is setting aside $10 million for services to prevent domestic violence, including shelters, in the Nunavik region, in northern Quebec.

The funding will come from the previously announced $229 million in funding for the fight against domestic violence, which has been on an upward trend in the first half of 2021. So far, there have been 11 reported cases of men allegedly killing their female partners.

In April, the Sureté du Quebec said Peter Ainalik, 44, killed his female partner, Kataluk Paningayak-Naluiyuk, 43 and then took his own life. Their bodies were found in a home on March 25 in Ivujivik, a fly-in community of about 400 people 2,000 kilometres north of Montreal.

"When you get a domestic case in a small village in Nunavik, you can imagine the impact on the whole community because everyone know each other," said Ian Lafrenière, Quebec’s minister for Indigenous affairs Thursday at a news conference.

The minister was joined by other cabinet ministers, including the minister for the status of women, Isabelle Charest, and health minister Lionel Carmant to announce $9.8 million is also going to Indigenous police forces. Another $6 million will fund "culturally relevant outreach services" in line with the recommendations from the Viens Commission and the National Inquiry into missing Indigenous women and girls.

Statistically, Indigenous women are three times more at risk of domestic violence and face more barriers getting help.

"We're talking about small communities, communities that could be isolated, in terms of access to resources, that could be social workers, therapists," Lafrenière said.

While advocates welcome the news, some worry it won’t be enough.

"Throughout Quebec there's a lot of organizations that work with this population, and six million dollars is not a lot of money," said Nakuset, executive director of the Native Women's Shelter in Montreal.

"My fear is that we are all going to try to apply for these monies and we'll only get just a little bit of it. And the need is great."

In the meantime, Quebec's Indigenous affairs minister calls this money a baby step and promised more help for Indigenous women is coming.

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