Regina Leader-Post with Melissa Coomber-Bendtsen 26 April 2019
With new funding in hand, Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) vice-chief Heather Bear is excited to start training more Indigenous women to take up the work of advocating for women and family rights.
On Friday morning at the YWCA in Regina, the FSIN received more than $600,000 as part of a $3.7-million federal announcement involving 10 women’s organizations across the province.
“The Women’s Commission in Saskatchewan represents 74 First Nations, and we plan to do some research and some training and build capacity within our communities all over the region, so it’s money that is going to be well-spent,” said Bear.
“Women have always had integral roles within our communities and throughout time we’ve lost some of that, so I think the revitalization and bringing that back, the good ways of our people back into the society is really going to effect change.”
Women’s organizations across Canada submitted funding proposals for “capacity-building” last fall under a new federal funding category specifically designed to help organizations with back-end or support costs, so staff can focus on the actual work of helping people.
The FSIN plans to use the funding to provide leadership and advocacy training for 35 Indigenous women, so the organization can continue its work to end violence against Indigenous women more effectively.
YWCA Regina also received $250,000, which it will use to improve its fundraising capabilities ahead of the construction of a new Centre for Women and Families, which is slated to begin in 2020.
“It is a competitive market and so we have to have the ability to raise … important dollars to help us do our work and avoid crisis for women and families in our city, so this funding will help us create a development officer position and help move that fundraising effort forward,” said Melissa Coomber-Bendtsen, CEO of YWCA Regina.
Coomber-Bendtsen said the money will also offer relief to staff through the provision of more supports.
“Our staff work in trauma and crisis all of the time, and we don’t have enough funding and support often to make sure we’re supporting our staff, so capacity building and sustainability funding allows us to support our staff better,” she said.
Ralph Goodale, minister of public safety and emergency preparedness, made the announcement and said directing funds specifically to build capacity like this has never been done before. The 10 organizations receiving funding in Saskatchewan are a portion of 250 women’s organizations across the country that are receiving this type of funding after submitting successful proposals.
“The point of the funding is to provide predictable, sustainable resources to support women’s organizations themselves, so that they have that firmer foundation upon which their organization and their financing is based, and they can focus on building and delivering the services to women and families rather than constantly filling out applications to try to get little bits of money to sustain themselves,” said Goodale.
“This will relieve pressures on the infrastructure and basic capacity side.”
The eight other Saskatchewan organizations that received funding are the Elizabeth Fry Society of Saskatchewan, Family Service Saskatoon, Prince Albert Metis Women’s Association, Saskatoon Indian and Metis Friendship Centre, Saskatoon Sexual Assault and Information Centre, Sexual Assault Services of Saskatchewan and YWCA Prince Albert.