The federal and territorial governments have announced $500,000 to allow five Northwest Territories family violence shelters to expand their crisis hotline services.
The contribution is part of a joint action plan to end gender-based violence in response to the final report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, released in 2021.
The funding, announced in Yellowknife this week, will be distributed to the Alison McAteer House in Yellowknife, the Family Support Centre in Hay River, the Sutherland House in Fort Smith, the Inuvik Transition House and the Aimayunga Women and Emergency Foster Care Shelter in Tuktoyaktuk.
The money is intended to support each shelter’s phone line, available for NWT residents experiencing intimate partner and family violence, but a territorial representative said there is some flexibility around how the cash is spent.
“Plans so far include updates to some of their hardware and infrastructures to increase the number of lines so they can accept more calls, as well as increased media and advertising for the shelters, so people are more aware of the services they provide and more awareness of the five crisis lines that exist in the territory,” said Hayley Maddeaux-Young, the NWT government’s director of mental wellness and addictions recovery.
“Additionally, they’ll be doing some support and training for their shelter staff so that they are in a better position to provide support services to folks when they call.”
Speaking at a press conference in Yellowknife, federal women and gender equality minister Marci Ien said crisis lines are especially important in the NWT, where some communities have limited support.
“In the Northwest Territories, where rural and remote regions experience additional barriers, it’s important that everyone has access to crisis resources, no matter where they live or who they are,” Ien said. “Crisis hotlines offer life-saving support to women and children fleeing violence.”
During the pandemic, demand for crisis hotline services significantly increased across Canada, including the Northwest Territories, along with reports of family violence. Ien said that as of 2022, those numbers were still rising.