Submitted by: Jennifer Lord, MNO Manager of Mental Health and Victim Services

The Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) is pleased to announce the beginning of a new project in Thunder Bay called the Aboriginal Sexual Violence Community Response Initiative (ASVCRI).

This province-wide, multi-year program is funded by the Ontario Women’s Directorate and is being run in conjunction with the Ontario Native Women’s Association (ONWA), Independent First Nations (IFN), the Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres (OFIFC) and the Chiefs of Ontario (COO). Each organization has chosen a different Ontario community to do this work and the MNO is leading their project in Thunder Bay.

Through ASVCRI Coordinator, Valerie Stortini, the project will build relationships with fellow service providers in Thunder Bay to understand how all agencies interact with one another when a woman experiences sexual violence. Once this understanding is achieved, the various parties can identify any institutional barriers and enhance these systems for the benefit of the client, the worker and the community at large. The MNO sees this initiative as one that promotes change from the community level upwards.

The project will use a combined approach of working with service providers, as well as speaking with and learning from Aboriginal women who’ve experienced sexual violence. The final phase of the project will engage youth in the city area so that they may learn from those that have experienced sexual violence and be provided with tools to not only inform but also strengthen and empower. For further information, please contact Jennifer Lord, MNO Manager of Mental Health and Victim Services at 613-798-1488.