The federal government has announced just over $450,000 in funding for two programs designed to help the NWT’s Indigenous women. 

Ottawa pledged $200,000 to the Native Women’s Association of the NWT “to create systemic change within the housing supports network,” alongside almost $265,000 to the Gwich’in Tribal Council for a program designed to help women in the tourism and arts and crafts sectors.

The Gwich’in Tribal Council’s program will last for three years, providing support and advice to partner organizations and “an action plan to better engage women in the art and crafts traditional economy.”

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The Native Women’s Association (NWA) project will, according to the federal government, “add new insights on Indigenous women and homelessness, to contribute to the Yellowknife action plan and shape ongoing planning and implementation of culturally and gender-appropriate responses to ending homelessness.”

The project will see the NWA work with the City of Yellowknife and territorial government.

This is the second federal funding announcement affecting the NWA in a little more than a month.

In June, a far larger $46 million, four-year injection of cash to the NWT for training and jobs included $145,000 per year in assistance for the association.

Native Women’s Association President Liza Charlo-Pieper said in a news release: “We believe that in helping women and their families find housing, we are also helping our whole community grow and prosper.”

Joy O’Neill, economic development officer for the Gwich’in Tribal Council, said at a news conference inside Yellowknife’s Tree of Peace: “In a year or two, I envisage women being much more empowered, feeling the community and government actually cares and is willing to respond to their needs.

“Right now we have women in Fort McPherson who are producing beautiful works and some delicious confections, but there is really no place for them to sell their work. They have to make sure their product gets to our offices or the Gwich’in store. Women who are working up in Tuktoyaktuk, if they want a larger market for their product, they send it to Inuvik.

“With this program, women will discover exactly what they need to succeed, know their challenges are being addressed, and be able to have larger markets and greater efficiencies.”

‘Continue the momentum’

Yellowknife is one year into a 10-year plan to end homelessness.

In July, the City’s senior administrative officer – Sheila Bassi-Kellett – told councillors “good progress in a range of areas” was being made toward the aim of entirely eradicating homelessness by the time the plan ends.

One of the issues Bassi-Kellett raised last month was the approaching termination of a five-year funding agreement with the federal government, due to expire in 2019.

“We’ll want to continue to work with our partners at the federal level to see what options there are to continue the good momentum that we’ve made,” she said at the time.

The action plan is expected to cost the City $113 million over the 10 years to implement, hence the urgency with which officials are eager to seal significant funding agreements at both federal and territorial level.

Wednesday’s federal announcement follows a call for proposals issued by the federal government in October last year, asking for organizations to submit ideas for projects helping the economic security and prosperity of Indigenous women.

Fourteen projects across Canada will receive more than $4.3 million as a result of the ideas received.