Liard Aboriginal Women’s Society: Together for Justice

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Determinants of Health: Gender

Overview

Cultivating community-wide safety to improve response services to women and girls

Indigenous Women, RCMP and Service Providers Work Together for Justice: A Response-based Safety Collaboration in the Yukon.

The Together for Justice initiative was borne with the intent of putting a stop to violence against women and to help women who have experienced violence transfer to violence-free lives. This was to be accomplished through motions meant to cultivate community safety with Gatherings between community members, Aboriginal organizations, front-line service organizations for women, RCMP, and perhaps most importantly, Elders. Relationship-building activities were designed to slowly cultivate comfort and trust between the parties so that a non-judgmental and safe space would be created. It was hoped that the groups would form lasting relationships, which would serve to strengthen interdependence between organizations, and improving RCMP and other service-provider responses to women requiring assistance.

It was determined that altered and improved responses to Aboriginal women would be required for creating safety because the current avenues of maintaining their safety were ineffective and at times detrimental. It was also determined that changes to the current system needed to be accomplished via collaboration by all agencies and people involved in supporting the safety of women in Watson Lake and Whitehorse areas.

ADDITIONAL SUPPORTING INFORMATION

The Together for Justice framework was based on the following response-based principles and understandings, which have largely become the ground for the work.

  • The quality of social responses is the single best predictor of individual and community outcomes in cases of violence and other forms of adversity.
  • Accurate information and accurate descriptions are the first indispensable step in forming effective social responses.
  • Individuals are active and spirited beings who respond to one another and to positive and negative events, including violence.
  • Dignity is central to social life and to individual and collective wellbeing. All forms of violence are an attack on the dignity of the person. Recovery from violence is largely a struggle for dignity.
  • Violence is social in that it involves at least two people, a victim and an offender. Complete descriptions should include the actions of both people; the perpetrator, in committing violence, and the victim, in resisting violence.
  • Violence is unilateral in that it involves actions by one person against the will and well-being of another. Descriptions should reflect the unilateral nature of violent crimes.
  • Individuals respond to and resist violence, overtly and covertly, directly and indirectly – physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Violence cannot be understood unless the resistance of the victim is taken into account at all points.
  • Descriptions are formed in language. Language can be a tool for liberation or oppression. Language is the central tool for all criminal justice and professional work – and daily life.
  • Violent crimes, victims and offenders are open misrepresented in criminal justice and professional settings, and in the media. Careful analysis of descriptions is central to ethical and informed social responses
  • Complete analysis must take into account:
    1. The nature of perpetrator actions in context
    2. Victim responses and resistance to those actions
    3. Social responses to perpetrator and victim
    4. Perpetrator and victim responses to social responses
  • Voices of Indigenous women and Elders must be considered in all interventions to ensure they are helpful and respectful.

The Liard Aboriginal Women’s Society (LAWS) and Watson Lake RCMP have broken new ground with a unique community safety initiative. “Together for Justice” is a protocol for building community safety that confirms the new relationship that has been built between LAWS and the local RCMP. On International Women’s Day, Friday March 8, 2013, Together for Justice celebrated its shared journey and commitment to continue a collaboration that advances safety for women. The Protocol establishes principles, objectives and core commitments which capture the new relationship.

The protocol was developed out of a series of workshops that took place from February 2011 to March 2013. The project was initiated by LAWS and held in both Watson Lake and Whitehorse. RCMP employees have joined with Kaska women, Yukon Women’s Coalition delegates, representatives from government and community organizations. Sessions have carefully focused on the justice system, policing, culture, historical colonialism and residential schools to explore and understand how society responds to women who experience violence.

Primary Source Document

Liard Aboriginal Women's Society, Liard Aboriginal Women's Society: Together for Justice; Project Final Evaluation

Contact information of developer(s) and/or implementer(s)

Cathy Richardson, Phd, Professor, Counsellor, Researcher, Social Change Facilitator; cathyresponds@gmail.com; New Montreal Cell: 438-862-2261; University of Montreal: 514-343-7224

Intervention Focus

Intervention Goal / ObjectiveLevel(s) TargetedEquity Focus
The Together for Justice Project arose as a vision of the Kaska women of Liard Aboriginal Women’s Society (LAWS) to exterminate violence in their community of Watson Lake
  • Community level
  • Individual level
  • Interpersonal level
  • Organizational level
People living in conditions of disadvantage are not explicitly stated to be a target population of the intervention.
Acting upon a dream of building relationships amongst themselves, RCMP, and other community members (something unheard of and which had significant tension and challenges which had to be overcome first due to historic RCMP and community relations)
  • Organizational level
People living in conditions of disadvantage are not explicitly stated to be a target population of the intervention.

Health Issue(s) that is/are addressed by the Intervention

Health Promotion

    Risk Reduction

    • Prevent violence

    Specific Activities of the Intervention

    • Advocacy for policy or policy changes
    • Create a community coalition
    • Information sessions offered about a risk factor or condition
    • Provision of seed grants
    • Community event/forum
    • Group process/program
    • Partnership development
    • People living in conditions of disadvantage were included in decision-making processes.
    • Other

    Priority/Target Population for Intervention Delivery

    Life Stage

    • Adults (age 25-64 years)

    Settings

    Educational Settings

      Community Setting

        N/A

        Outcomes

        Outcomes and Impact Chart
        Level of ImpactDescription of OutcomeEquity Focus
        Community LevelIt is duly notable then, that the Project was a success despite that the women of LAWS were without the support of their First Nation’s government. LAWS was its own leadership, and the organization derived support as a result of their stance on violence against women and from the unique movement towards equality they created. It takes a community to stop violence against women and LAWS has proven a forerunner in this.Outcomes are reported for people living in conditions of disadvantage, and are not compared to people living in more advantaged conditions.
        Individual LevelEd of Kaushees Palce Shelter: "Response-based practice has o$ered a way to analyse abuse and see where women workers the ability to weed out colonial practices that are based in western medical and psychological models that blame or pathologize women. The response-based approach has brought women a way to engage in self and social analysis that brings grace and honour to our sense of self and how we perceive our responses to the abuse around us. (Personal communication, Whitehorse, October 2012).Outcomes are reported for people living in conditions of disadvantage, and are not compared to people living in more advantaged conditions.
        Interpersonal LevelValidation of women having been heard, a process of healing from silence.Outcomes are reported for people living in conditions of disadvantage, and are not compared to people living in more advantaged conditions.
        Interpersonal LevelIndividuals have overcome historical grievances with other professionals and healed from the wounds enflicted upon each other even in the recent past; having healed from this strife.Outcomes are reported for people living in conditions of disadvantage, and are not compared to people living in more advantaged conditions.
        Organizational LevelMaintaining open lines of communication between agencies and organizationsOutcomes are reported for people living in conditions of disadvantage, and are not compared to people living in more advantaged conditions.
        Organizational LevelHaving committed and supportive leadershipOutcomes are reported for people living in conditions of disadvantage, and are not compared to people living in more advantaged conditions.
        Organizational LevelHaving the leadership of EldersOutcomes are reported for people living in conditions of disadvantage, and are not compared to people living in more advantaged conditions.

        Adaptability

        Implementation History

        • Implemented once (could be a pilot) - The intervention has been implemented once and is theoretically replicable elsewhere.

        Expertise Required for Implementation within the Context of the Intervention

        • Requires specialzed skills that are rarely accessible within the context - The intervention requires the participation of personnel with advanced skills (e.g. medical doctors, epidemiologists, social workers) and that are rarely accessible within the intervention context.

        Are there supports available for implementation

        Yes. Many recommendations have been made by participants with the intent of helping Together for Justice as an initiative and an idea thrive. Certain ones have remained prominent throughout the course of the Project. The most popular recommendations for the success of the movement in making positive change were maintaining open lines of communication between agencies/organizations, listening to Aboriginal women in order to help and support them, having committed and supportive leadership, and having the leadership of Elders.

        Are there resources and/or products associated with the interventions

        No.