Meaghan Richens
VJN News

The Ontario government has announced it is investing around $250,000 in three research projects aimed at better practices in law enforcement when dealing with sexual violence against indigenous women.

Yasir Naqvi, Ontario minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services, said these research projects are just one part of the province’s action plan to eradicate sexual violence and harassment, in addition to a long-term plan to end violence against Indigenous women announced by Premier Kathleen Wynne in February.

“Very much a part of both those plans is working with researchers and academics to better understand some of the … challenges and best practices to be able to assist in investigations, to solve heinous crime and be able to assist victims,” Naqvi said.

It is estimated that one in three Canadian women experiences sexual assault but Indigenous women in Canada are three times more likely to experience violence than non-Indigenous women, according to a news release.

“Sexual violence and harassment perpetrated against Indigenous women and girls is underreported due to a lack of various supports,” said Sylvia Maracle Executive Director, Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres (OFIFC) in a statement.

The research will explore on-reserve police reporting and the effect of police involvement on Ontario’s sexual assault treatment programs by Indigenous women and according to Naqvi, has already begun.

“The research projects are happening… the people who do the work, of course, bring a lot of expertise in these areas, they have done a lot of work, and they are of course doing more work to provide us guidance,” Naqvi said.

Part of this research will also explore sexual violence reporting and how response practices can be made more culturally responsive for Indigenous women and girls.

“In terms of Indigenous communities, we need to make sure that the services we’re providing - both in terms of reporting crime and solving the crime, providing assistance to the victims – that they’re all done in the context of the Indigenous culture,” said Naqvi.

“[Considering] The historical context around trauma that may have resulted from residential schools, in the spirit of truth and reconciliation that the report has provided,” said Naqvi.