Open Letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper

Posted in Information on March 20, 2010 by ineedhealing

March 16, 2010

AN OPEN LETTER TO PRIME MINISTER STEPHEN HARPER

Rt. Honorable Stephen Harper

Prime Minister of Canada

Office of the Prime Minister
80 Wellington Street
Ottawa K1A 0A2

pm@pm.gc.ca

613-941-6900

Prime Minister:

On this occasion, the Native Women’s Shelter of Montreal (NWSM), writes to you as one of the 134 community projects recently informed of the Federal Government’s decision to decline the renewal of funding to the Aboriginal Healing Foundation (AHF). The AHF is an Aboriginal-managed national non-profit institution, established in 1998. The AHF mandate is to encourage and support community-based Aboriginal directed healing initiatives. These initiatives aim to address the intergenerational legacy of physical and sexual abuse suffered in Canada’s Indian Residential School System. The AHF and its affiliated projects, rely almost exclusively on Federal government funding to meet their mandates.

The recent Federal budget’s pledge of $199 million to address the legacy of Indian Residential School, and “to ensure that necessary mental health and emotional support services continue to be provided to former students and their families”, however generous, has not been committed to the AHF. Consequently, the aforementioned 134 community-based projects nationwide will be terminated as of March 31st, 2010. This decision will have crippling affects, even devalue the process of reconciliation initiated in June of 2008, when the formal apology was issued for the Federal Government’s role in the Indian Residential School System.

We would like to further call your attention to the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs’ December 2009 report, “Evaluation of Community-Based Healing Initiatives Supported Through the Aboriginal Healing Foundation”. The Evaluation highlights that “there is almost unanimous agreement among those canvassed that the AHF has been very successful at both achieving its objectives and in governance and fiscal management”. Furthermore, it concludes that the positive impacts of these projects are far reaching, affecting individuals, youth, women, as well as whole families and communities.

According to this report and to the data collected quarterly by each community project, “the majority of projects note they are not sustainable without AHF funding.” This same Evaluation made the following recommendations:

  1. The Government of Canada should consider continued support for the Aboriginal Healing Foundation, at least until the Settlement Agreement compensation processes and commemorative initiatives are completed.
  2. The Government of Canada explore options with the Aboriginal Healing Foundation to determine how best to maximize any additional resources, should they become available, in order to be better able to meet the healing needs of Aboriginal Canadians.
  3. The Government of Canada undertake a study, in partnership with the Aboriginal Healing Foundation, research organizations, and stakeholders, to determine the healing needs of Aboriginal Canadians post Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement and determine whether funding should be continued and, if so, to what extent, and what role, if any, the Government of Canada should play.
  4. The Government of Canada implements, in the funding agreement with the Aboriginal Healing Foundation, a requirement to collect data to help determine cost effectiveness of community‐based healing projects supported by the Foundation. They should also examine the possibility of a mandate to conduct strategic research and evaluation activities; however, this enhanced mandate should not detract from funding that would normally flow to community‐based projects.

 

We would like to note that, despite these recommendations, organizations such as ours will no longer be receiving crucial funding to maintain our healing programs. The NWSM’s mandate is to provide a safe and supportive environment that strengthens cultural identity, self-esteem, and independence for Aboriginal women and their children. As a result of these devastating cuts, three crucial support based jobs will be lost, and NWSM’s ability to provide a culturally appropriate safe space for Aboriginal women and their children to overcome violence, addiction, and homelessness will be compromised. These services have become irreplaceable in the lives of hundreds of Aboriginal women and children every year in the greater Montreal area alone.

The NWSM is well aware of the impact of the recent economic downtown on the country’s finances. The shelter is especially conscious of the disadvantages that Aboriginal women and their children face on a daily basis, as well as the added consequences of tighter family resources. The NWSM is a none political entity, but in this situation the shelter would be remiss in not speaking out about the plight of our clientele. The actions by the Federal government in ceasing funding to the AHF, contradicts their promise in the 2010 Budget of “ensuring that all women in Canada, including Aboriginal women, are safe and secure regardless of the community in which they live.” According to this very same budget, Aboriginal women are a particularly vulnerable population who require additional support and protection.

We therefore ask, Mr. Prime Minister, that you and the Federal government take immediate action, reaffirming your commitment to the 2008 reconciliation process, revisit this decision, and restore funding to the Aboriginal Healing Foundation. Your interventions are necessary in order to ensure that Aboriginal people nationwide may continue on their journey towards overcoming the harsh consequences of the Indian Residential School System. The NWSM unequivocally applauds any additional spending promised to alleviate this heritage, but any true commitments will remain unfulfilled without the full restoration of funding to the Aboriginal Healing Foundation and its 134 projects nationwide.

In the spirit of healing,

Nakuset

Executive Director, Native Women’s Shelter of Montreal

Cuts to AHF Funding – Briefing

Posted in Information on March 16, 2010 by ineedhealing

ABORIGINAL HEALING FOUNDATION FUNDING CUTS

 ISSUE:

On March 31, 2010, funding to the Native Women’s Shelter of Montreal (NWSM) will cease as a result of funding cuts to the Aboriginal Healing Foundation (AHF) in the Federal Government’s 2010 budget.

SUMMARY:

  •  As a result of the AHF funding cut, 134 community projects across Canada will no longer provide cultural healing services to Aboriginal people.
  • In Montreal, as of March 31, 2010 the culturally sensitive support services of the Native Women’s Shelter will cease. Additionally several key personnel, the majority aboriginal women, will see their positions cut due to a lack of funding. 
  • The NWSM asks that the Federal Government reinstate funds to the AHF and the efforts to improve the lives of Aboriginal women and children.

RECOMMENDATION: 

 In the spirit of healing and awareness, the Native Women’s Shelter of Montreal calls upon the Federal Government of Canada to reinstate funding to the Aboriginal Healing Foundation and efforts for the improvement of conditions for Aboriginal women and their children throughout Canada.

 BACKGROUND:

 The Native Women’s Shelter of Montreal (NWSM) has provided support to First Nations, Inuit and Métis women and their children who are in difficulty since 1987.

 The Aboriginal Healing Foundation (AHF) is an Aboriginal-managed national non-profit institution, established March 31, 1998. The AHF mandate is to encourage and support community-based Aboriginal directed healing initiatives which address the intergenerational legacy of physical and sexual abuse suffered in Canada’s Indian Residential School System. The AHF relies on Federal government funding to meet its mandate.

 FINANCIAL IMPLICATIONS AND SOURCE OF FUNDS:

 In eliminating support to the Aboriginal Healing Foundation, the Federal Government is ultimately removing one third of the funds required by the NWSM for the proper delivery of services to its clientele.

 ANALYSIS:

 The NWSM provides a safe, culturally relevant, and therapeutic environment where Aboriginal women can focus on their various personal challenges namely addictions, mental health, homelessness, and abuse. The shelter provides front line services and in-house programming as a result of the funding received through the Aboriginal Healing Foundation of Canada.

 Without funding from the Aboriginal Healing Foundation, as of March 31st, 2010 the NWSM is faced with the immediate termination of all healing programs. The implications of this termination are catastrophic. The shelter will no longer be able to meet its mandate of providing Aboriginal women and children with the support necessary in empowering them to regain their independence and transition successfully within the community and leaving the shelter to provide only the basic services of food and shelter. Moreover, as a result of these cuts the NWSM has no choice but to terminate the positions of several key personnel, 2/3 being aboriginal women. 

 In the 2010 budget speech, Stephen Harper stated that “We need to keep helping those who need a hand up” and further elaborated on providing assistance “to the most vulnerable communities”. The AHF has been a fundamental instrument in the delivery of services which addresses the legacy of residential schools. The $199 million promised to address the legacy of residential schools in the 2010 budget has not been committed to the AHF to carry on their mandate; the Federal government is thus crippling the process of addressing the legacy of residential schools by failing to renew this funding.

 The actions by the Federal government in ceasing funding to the AHF contradicts their promise in the 2010 Budget of ”ensuring that all women in Canada, including Aboriginal women, are safe and secure regardless of the community in which they live.” According to this very same budget, Aboriginal women consist of a particularly vulnerable population who require additional support and protection.

 The implications of funding loss are of particular importance to the Aboriginal community due to the critical need for a culturally appropriate safe space for Aboriginal women and their children to overcome violence, addiction, homelessness, and the impact of the residential school legacy. The NWSM intends to foster collaboration among Aboriginal organizations nationwide in pursuit of this cause.

http://www.petitiononline.com/fundAHF/petition.html

Posted in Information on March 16, 2010 by ineedhealing

Show your support. Please sign this online petition to be presented to the Prime Minister, Stephen Harper supporting the reinstatement of funds to the Aboriginal Healing Foundation.

http://www.petitiononline.com/fundAHF/petition.html

We need to work together to achieve the reinstatement of funds to the Aboriginal Healing Foundation and the 134 community projects affected by this funding cut.

Posted in Information on March 16, 2010 by ineedhealing