A government grant for the Boundary Metis Community Association (BMCA) will allow the group to provide workshops for local aboriginal women to come together and learn about their culture.
BMCA received $7,488 for the project that is entitled Hear Our Voices. The project is part of the Giving Voice project, which is an initiative of the Minister’s Advisory Council for Aboriginal Women whose members are respected Aboriginal women from across British Columbia.
The purpose of the program 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 province is committed to a collaborative approach to address violence against Aboriginal women,” said John Rustad, minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation, in a press release. “By supporting projects designed and developed by and for Aboriginal women we are moving towards the overall goal of improving the quality of life for all Aboriginal people in B.C.”
Myrna Logan, vice-president of the BMCA, told the Gazette the group is pleased to receive the grant for the Hear Our Voices project.
“It will provide aboriginal women and girls with cultural awareness, skills and resources surrounding violence and abuse,” she said. “Training workshops will increase knowledge on a personal level as well as community level. This will assist in building a stronger, safer and better informed community on the issues of violence and abuse.”
Logan said the project will include a two-day drum-making workshop and teachings and subsequent monthly drum circles. The project will also feature women and girls’ education and awareness workshops on violence and abuse.
“We’re going to be working with the women’s coalition and resource centre staff on that,” said Logan. “We’re going to do medicine wheel teaching with a weekend workshop. We’re going to do monthly women’s traditional aboriginal sweats and talking and sharing circles. We’re going to do public speaking workshops to build self-esteem and confidence.”
Logan said the project will begin as soon as the organization receives the money. She adds that all the facets of the project will have community resource staff on hand such as aboriginal mental health and addiction workers and aboriginal family support and women’s violence staff.
The government’s Giving Voices grant program includes two streams. The first one, which the BMCA received, is targeted at local aboriginal women and must be completed by Nov. 30, 2015; the second features more money and must be completed by Nov. 30, 2016. Twenty-five programs received the first stream of grants for between $3,100 and $7,500, while 12 organizations will receive between $13,000 and $15,000 under the second stream, which hasn’t been announced yet.
“The second stream, which we also applied for, is to bring education to the larger community,” she said. “We haven’t heard if we’re successful with that one yet. We will continue to pursue that and if we don’t get that, maybe they thought we need to educate our own before bringing it to the community in general.”