Four area First Nations and organizations are receiving over $33,000 in “Giving Voice” grants from the provincial government to fund projects aimed at stopping violence against Aboriginal women and girls.

“We all have a responsibility to end violence against women. As a former police officer, I have seen domestic violence’s awful consequences; and it needs to be made clear that there is zero tolerance for abuse,” says Prince George-Mackenzie MLA Mike Morris. “No one – no victim – should be forced into silence. This is why their voices must be heard and heeded to let all know that violence against women is unacceptable in all cultures, Aboriginal or non-Aboriginal.”

The four local First Nations and organizations receiving funding are the Carrier Sekani Family Services, Kwadacha Nation, Nusdeh Yoh Aboriginal Choice School, and the Yekooche First Nation.

“No woman or girl should have to live in fear of violence or abuse. This is a paramount principle in our province’s aim of a violence free B.C.,” says Prince George-Valemount MLA Shirley Bond. “Aboriginal women are more likely to be victims of violence than non-Aboriginal women. We’ve listened to First Nations leaders and by supporting Aboriginal-led projects, we are helping their communities develop grassroots solutions to improve life for Aboriginal women and girls. There is much work to be done but this is an important step in the right direction.”

The purpose of the “Giving Voice” grants, an initiative of the Minister’s Advisory Council for Aboriginal Women, is to provide Aboriginal women, men, youth, and Elders safe opportunities to give voice to issues of violence and abuse within their lives, families, and communities. The projects are designed to change behaviours and attitudes, along with mobilizing communities.

$15,000 is going to the Carrier Sekani Family Services for a project that will utilize the concept of sharing knowledge and wisdom while engaging in traditional cultural activities to mobilize Youth and Elders in developing their nation specific Youth Wellness Strategy.

The Kwadacha Nation will get $7,500 towards workshops for its existing Men’s, Women’s, Elders and Youth Groups and restorative justice healing camps. Subjects will include ending violence and teaching communication skills along with problem solving techniques in relationships.

A grant worth $3,100 will help the Nusdeh Yoh Aboriginal Choice School conduct two, six week long art-focused sharing circle sessions for girls, youth and women that will be focused on building awareness of the effects of violence. At the end of these sessions, run in partnership with Prince George Secondary School, both groups would hold an art show to build community awareness of how violence affects Aboriginal girls and youth.

A $7,500 grants will help the Yekooche First Nation support its Women’s Group hold 25, 90-minute bi-monthly meetings to raise awareness and empower each other and the community against violence and bullying.

The Yekooche First Nation, Nusdeh Yoh Aboriginal Choice School and the Kwadacha Nation project’s must be completed by Nov. 30, 2015 while the Carrier Sekani Family Services’ initiative needs to be conclude in November 2016.

Across British Columbia, 37 community-based Aboriginal organizations will share close to $350,000 in “Giving Voice grants”.