Safety of Indigenous Women in Urban Settings

The Safety of Indigenous Women in Urban Settings (SIWUS) is a collective of Indigenous and non-Indigenous agencies and stakeholders in Calgary who work together to provide support to Indigenous women and girls who are victims of family and domestic violence. HomeFront is leading the initiative and has developed the foundation to manage this shift in how we support Indigenous victims of violence in our communities.  

Data from Statistics Canada (2018) indicates that more than 6 in 10 Indigenous women report having been physically or sexually assaulted. Indigenous women and girls face many barriers when getting support for their safety and they are a significant part of Calgary’s high-risk community.  

By addressing the systemic barriers and challenges faced by this population, the SIWUS collective aims to empower Indigenous women and girls to reduce their risk of vulnerability to violence. In establishing new partnerships and leveraging existing ones, SIWUS will provide individuals with wrap-around services, navigation, and case management through a network of relevant agencies and organizations. 

SIWUS honours Indigenous ways of knowing, teaching, and approaches as foundations to effect real change within and across systems that strive to support and protect Indigenous women and girls. Through formal collaboration and protocols that draw on the insight of Elders and survivors, along with the resources and services of agencies, a foundation has been laid for a strategy that reflects the social, cultural, and systemic needs of Indigenous women and girls experiencing violence. 

The spirit and intent of SIWUS is aligned with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada Calls to Action and to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP)

Truth & Reconciliation Commission of Canada: Calls to Action  

39: We call upon the federal government to develop a national plan to collect and publish data on the criminal victimization of Aboriginal people, including data related to homicide and family violence victimization. 

40: We call on all levels of government, in collaboration with Aboriginal people, to create adequately funded and accessible Aboriginal-specific victim programs and services with appropriate evaluation mechanisms.

United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples 

Article 22 (2): States shall take measures, in conjunction with indigenous peoples, to ensure that indigenous women and children enjoy the full protection and guarantees against all forms of violence and discrimination.

Article 23: Indigenous peoples have the right to determine and develop priorities and strategies for exercising their right to development. In particular, indigenous peoples have the right to be actively involved in developing and determining health, housing and other economic and social programmes affecting them and, as far as possible, to administer such programmes through their own institutions.