Oshawa ON – Women’s Shelters Canada (WSC) has launched its Roadmap to a National Action Plan on Violence Against Women (VAW) and Gender-Based Violence (GBV). An advocacy campaign is now underway that calls on governments at all levels to take the steps to achieve a Canada free of gender-based violence.
Luke’s Place Legal Director, Pamela Cross had the honour of co-chairing the justice and legal systems working group, one of four created by WSC to provide input to its report.
“Our working group, including my co-chair Deepa Mattoo and I, considered and debated hundreds of possible recommendations, knowing we could only submit 20 for inclusion in the report”, said Cross. “The recommendations from our working group call for a major overhaul of many aspects of legal and justice systems: education and accountability for all legal/justice system actors, coordination of family laws across the country, access to legal advice and representation for all survivors of GBV/VAW, increased community-based supports for survivors engaged with the criminal system, reforms to immigration policies and protocols, systems accountability and many more.”
The report asserts 100 recommendations, made across four pillars that emerged through conversations with the government and include: enabling environment and social structure, prevention, promotion of responsive legal and justice systems, and support for survivors and their families. A fifth pillar on Indigenous Women’s Leadership was assigned to a process outside this project and rests with the WAGE Indigenous Women’s Circle. Another separate, related process is the development of a national action plan in response to the findings of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG).
The WSC report concludes with these words:
Our project, to guide the framing and implementation of Canada’s first National Action Plan on VAW/GBV starts and finishes with a bold, ambitious and intersectional vision.
Rooted in vibrant activism, a network of services, leaders and experts, and a context calling for radical system change, this report is offered as one building block to achieve that vision. . . .Viewing this moment as the rarest of all moments – a once-in-a-generation opportunity for real change . . . we have dared to imagine that one day this will lead to the elimination of GBV/VAW and threats of such violence for all. . . We hope that you, the reader of this report, accept this challenge and find the base we have provided helps you achieve this daring goal.”
The report is the result of intense strategic engagement and analysis that took place over three months in early 2021 with anti-violence experts from across Canada representing 1000 person-years of experience and knowledge in the areas of violence against women (VAW) and gender-based violence (GBV).
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- 6.3 million women and girls in Canada will experience sexual violence or intimate partner violence in their lifetime
- Every 2.5 days, a woman or girl is killed in Canada
- Indigenous women are 6x more likely to be killed than non-indigenous women