Women’s groups in Northern Canada get $1.6M for gender equality

‘It is rare to get multi-year funding, and rarer to get multi-year federal funding,’ says Lyda Fuller, executive director of the YWCA NWT during a funding announcement on April 15. (Avery Zingel/CBC)
Four groups working to improve the lives of women and girls in the Northwest Territories, in Canada’s central Arctic, will now have sustainable, multi-year funding.

Liberal MP Michael McLeod announced $1.6 million in federal money for the Dechinta Centre for Research and Learning, the Yellowknife Women’s Society, sexual health educators FOXY and the YWCA NWT.

“It is rare to get multi-year funding, and rarer to get multi-year federal funding,” said Lyda Fuller, executive director of the YWCA NWT at the Centre for Northern Families in Yellowknife on Monday.

The YWCA now has $603,415 to create a new advocacy co-ordinator position to address poverty and violence against women. The organization will train staff and plan strategic advocacy work to improve gender equality in the territory.

The YWCA currently offers housing, child care, empowerment programs and shelter from family violence in the N.W.T.

Look out world — the women are going to be loud and proud.

Lyda Fuller, Executive director of YWCA NWT

In recent years, advocacy work has “quieted down” because there are few opportunities to take on long-term projects, said Fuller.

“We are eager to work together with the other women’s organizations. So look out world — the women are going to be loud and proud,” Fuller said.

McLeod said organizations that support women and girls are often under-resourced and planning is constrained by year-to-year funding.

MP Michael McLeod said multi-year funding will help under-resourced women’s groups undertake long-term work. (Avery Zingel/CBC)

“There wasn’t enough to go around a lot of times,” McLeod said.

The Yellowknife Women’s Society will get $268,800 for human resources, advocacy work and to improve financial stability.

Multi-year funding will change where the society channels their efforts, said executive director Bree Denning.

“This is an assurance that [we’re] going to be able to carry through with the work,” said Denning. “Our efforts won’t be wasted if anything changes and we’re not renewed for another year.”

Dechinta to promote post-secondary

Dechinta will get $363,966 to develop policies that break down barriers for Indigenous women pursuing post-secondary education.

FOXY will use $371,526 to strengthen its organization and look for alternative revenue to decrease its reliance on government funding. Since 2012, the organization has connected with more than 3,000 youth from 35 northern communities.

Dechinta board member Glen Coulthard and executive director Kelsey Wrightson at a funding announcement at the Centre for Northern Families in Yellowknife. The federal government allocated $363,966 to this organization. (Avery Zingel/CBC)

Federal Minister for Women and Gender Equality Maryam Monsef issued a call for proposals in October. Now, the $1.6 million will flow to organizations who have “been doing this work for decades on little more than a shoestring budget,” said Monsef in a news release.

In October, Monsef announced that more than 250 women’s organizations across Canada would receive sustained funding to help advance gender equality.

The federal government announced it would spend $100 million over five years in the 2018 budget to support gender equality. The 2019 budget adds another $160 million over five years.

Northern business gets $100K boost

McLeod also announced money for Alietum Ltd., a local business owned by Jennifer Waugh. Alietum is one of the first woman-owned, unmanned aerial vehicle companies in Canada.

Waugh said the funding will help her pursue another passion of hers — promoting women in aviation, science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

MP Michael McLeod announced $100,000 for Jennifer Waugh’s Alietum Ltd., an unmanned aerial vehicle business. (Avery Zingel/CBC)

Waugh will receive up to $100,000 to buy manned aircraft-based remote sensing and surveying technology.

That money is part of the federal government’s strategy to double the number of women-owned businesses in Canada.

Of Canada’s nearly 1.2 million small and medium-sized businesses, less than 16 per cent are majority-owned and run by women. Women are also twice as likely to be rejected for financing due to insufficient collateral or be characterized as “high-risk,” McLeod said.

Advancing gender equality could add up to $150 billion to the GDP, said McLeod.

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Searching for an Inuk role model to end violence against women, CBC News

United States: Violence against Indigenous women still a hot topic for Alaska Federation of Natives, Alaska Public Media

Avery Zingel, CBC News

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