Backgrounder -  Government of Canada announces historic investment in Saskatchewan women’s organizations 

Media advisory

Department for Women and Gender Equality’s Women’s Program 

One of the ways the Department for Women and Gender Equality advances gender equality in Canada is by providing funding to eligible organizations through the Women’s Program. Projects are selected via calls for proposals on specific themes, as well as through a continuous intake process that allows the Women’s Program to address emerging issues as they arise.                                                  

The Women’s Program funds projects that address systemic barriers to women’s equality in three priority areas: ending violence against women and girls; improving the economic security and prosperity of women and girls; and encouraging women and girls in leadership roles.

Capacity-building Call for Proposals 

In October 2018, Minister Monsef announced a Call for Proposals under the Capacity-building Fund of the Women’s Program. Projects at the local, provincial, and national level were eligible for different amounts of funding, based on their specific need and reach. 

On March 8, 2019, International Women’s Day, Minister Monsef announced that over 250 women’s organizations across the country would receive funding from the Capacity-building Fund. 

The objective is to fund proposals that will increase the capacity of eligible women’s organizations and Indigenous organizations serving women, whose initiatives contribute to a viable women’s movement in Canada that advances gender equality. Funding will increase the ability of organizations to grow, meet the increasing demands for their services, and continue to work collectively to address gender equality issues. The fund stems from the Budget 2018 announcement of $100 million over five years to help support a viable and sustainable women’s movement across Canada. 

Saskatchewan Projects 

Today’s announcement profiled nine projects in Saskatchewan selected for federal funding through the Capacity-building Fund: 

The Elizabeth Fry Society of Saskatchewan 

Project title: Multi-Year Capacity Building Initiative
Funding amount: $250,000 

With this investment, the Elizabeth Fry Society of Saskatchewan will increase the financial health of the organization, develop a compelling communications strategy, strengthen community partnerships, gather feedback on organizational assets and weaknesses and then assess and evaluate the effectiveness and sustainability of the initiatives. These initiatives will support the organization in advocating for the human rights and social and economic well-being of some of the most marginalized women and girls in Saskatchewan. 

The first Elizabeth Fry Society in Canada was established in Vancouver in 1939. The Society now has member societies across Canada. The Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies continues to maintain and strengthen its ties with other national justice, women’s and voluntary organizations. 

“Our organization provides services to women before, during and after incarceration, and many of our programs are designed to support crime prevention through a social developmental approach. As our programs are free for the women who need our support, we are very appreciative of federal government support and the chance to build capacity over several years, which will benefit the most marginalized women and girls in Saskatchewan.” 

Sandra Stack, Executive Director
Elizabeth Fry Society of Saskatchewan

Family Service Saskatoon 

Project title: Building for the Future
Funding amount: $222,405 

Family Service Saskatoon (FSS) is a primary service-provider for women and girls exposed to gender-based violence. This investment will allow the organization to increase service capacity in the areas of strategic planning, results-based management, diversification of funding sources, human resources management, and partnership development. These initiatives will strengthen FSS as an agency assisting to end violence against women. The project will address the identified capacity issues to ensure FSS has the resources to meet the needs of women in Saskatoon. The key activities of the project will occur within the Saskatoon community and will include provincial outreach via new and existing networks and partnerships. 

FSS was founded in 1911 as a non-partisan, non-profit organization, governed by just one volunteer and a community-based Board of Directors. In its early days, the agency brought together heads of other agencies and interested citizens to discuss the establishment of a Community Chest, known today as the United Way. 

“Our search for stable funding is usually a time-consuming process with unpredictable outcomes. We are pleased that the Government of Canada recognizes the funding obstacles faced by women’s groups and has answered with a reliable investment so we can expand our capacity to serve the needs of women and girls in our community who have been exposed to, or are victims of, gender-based violence.” 

Janine Baumann, Executive Director
Family Service Saskatoon

Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations 

Project title: Indigenous Women’s Capacity Building for Advocacy Program
Funding amount: $603,942 

The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) will train up to 35 Indigenous women from the FSIN’s Women’s Secretariat, Saskatchewan First Nations Women's Council (SFNWC) Advisory Circle, and Tribal Council Women’s Commissions, to work as staff and learn research, advocacy, and facilitation techniques to enhance their organizations’ leadership and advocacy capacity. The SFNWC recognizes that to bring about organizational and systemic change for Indigenous women, ongoing training, skills development and community engagement is required at the grassroots level. Their work will serve as a catalyst for developing a viable Indigenous women’s movement that will advance gender equality in First Nation communities and organizations. 

The FSIN, formerly the Federation of Saskatchewan Indians, is a Saskatchewan-based First Nations organization. The organization represents 74 First Nations in Saskatchewan. They are committed to honouring the spirit and intent of the Treaties, as well as the promotion, protection and implementation of the Treaty promises that were made more than a century ago. 

“Advancing gender equality for First Nations women in Saskatchewan is a grassroots matter for the community to engage in and work collaboratively for positive results. Our needs require us to train First Nations women who can then step up and help lead the community. This funding will provide us the opportunity to achieve that goal. We are appreciative to the Government of Canada for the multi-year funding and for their insight and understanding into the needs of First Nations women’s organizations in Saskatchewan.” 

Heather Bear, Vice Chief
Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations

Prince Albert Métis Women's Association 

Project title: Strengthening our Resolve: A Capacity Building Journey for Prince Albert Métis Women's Association
Funding amount: $246,900 

The Prince Albert Métis Women’s Association is seeking to improve their operations. This commitment to excellence involves a series of planning, training, development, partnership, recruitment, reflection, measurement, advocacy and consultation activities. Their plan for carrying out these activities is aimed at producing measurable improvements in human resources, strategy planning and financial capacities as an Indigenous women’s organization. 

The Prince Albert Métis Women's Association was incorporated in 1994 and has been immersed in a variety of community activities since their inception. All programs provided are built on a foundation of leadership through Métis community engagement with the active participation of the Prince Albert community with pride, ownership and responsibility. 

“Improving our capacity to train Métis women and others from our community is necessary for our growth as an organization and for the growth of our remarkable women who are ready to become leaders in our communities. We are grateful for the support we have received from the Government of Canada. They have been a good partner on our journey to self-improvement and it is especially comforting to know the funding will be available for a guaranteed period of time.” 

Noreen McBride, Director
Prince Albert Métis Women's Association

Saskatoon Indian and Métis Friendship Centre 

Project title: Evolution and Elimination of Gender and Racially-Based Disparities
Funding amount: $249,700 

The Saskatoon Indian and Métis Friendship Centre will take part in training and research to improve program areas and organizational services. This includes capacity-building efforts and sustainability to advocate for equality of women and Indigenous people through education, community engagement and cultural access. They seek to reach women and Indigenous people within Saskatoon, with the potential for an international audience and outreach. 

The Saskatoon Indian and Métis Friendship Centre (SIMFC) is an autonomous non-profit organization that was incorporated in 1968. It is a part of the Friendship Centre Movement which is representative of 120 Friendship Centres from across Canada designed to meet the unique needs of the Indigenous community. SIMFC supports First Nations, Métis and Inuit cultural distinctiveness, by providing holistic cultural programming for all ages. 

“This financial support from the federal government will enable us to extend our reach and gives us the time we need for effective long-term planning. We now have the resources we need to train, educate and improve every aspect of our organization, which gives us more capacity to advocate for the wellbeing of women and youth and the advancement of gender equality.” 

Colleen Whitedeer, Chairperson
Saskatoon Indian and Métis Friendship Centre

Saskatoon Sexual Assault & Information Centre

Project title: Building Our Capacity to Support Sexual Assault Service in Saskatoon
Funding amount: $118,312 

Saskatoon Sexual Assault & Information Centre (SSAIC) seeks to create sustainability and stability for the governance, operations, human resource management and financial viability of its organization. SSAIC will create frameworks, policies, procedures, practices and documentation upon which the agency can rest and build. SSAIC is the only agency in Saskatoon with the mandate to serve sexual assault survivors and carries the primary responsibility in the community for working with other service providers, professionals and members of the health and justice community to coordinate services and advocate for changes and improvement to services and systems for sexual assault survivors. 

SSAIC is a Saskatoon-based non-profit that began in 1975 when a small group of women began to challenge the myths and stereotypes around violence against women, rape, and victim blaming. Today’s SSAIC has grown to accommodate the demand for services with two full-time employees and 50 volunteers who staff the crisis line. 

“We are very excited to receive this funding from the Government of Canada.  As more and more sexual assault survivors reach out to us for help, it is crucial that we are able to stabilize and update our agencies structures so we continue to have the capacity to provide the needed support to survivors in Saskatoon.” 

Faye Davis, Executive Director
Saskatoon Sexual Assault & Information Centre

Sexual Assault Services of Saskatchewan 

Project title: Increasing SASS’ Internal Capacity to Support Organization Development
Funding amount: $616,047

Sexual Assault Services of Saskatchewan (SASS) seeks to increase internal capacity for organizational growth to help it become an even more effective provincial leader in advocating for gender equality in Canada. As a provincial office, SASS’ resources for advocacy are small in comparison to national organizations. To address these needs, SASS will engage in the following six key activities: communications, human resource capacity and management, leadership and board governance, building sector capacity, enhanced partnership and collaborations, and sustainability.

SASS was founded in 1984 when ten agencies in Saskatchewan which provided support and assistance to victims of sexual assault formed a coalition. The founding members operated under the philosophy that all people have the right to exercise control over their sexuality and deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. Through the goal of accepting human equality and rejecting violence, SASS members today still provide community awareness and education, offer support services to victims, and lobby for legislative changes.

“Working together to prevent and address gender-based violence is a fundamental approach to the problem. Survivors of gender-based violence are often alone and feel isolated and helpless but through collaboration and the community support we provide, these women can find and obtain access to the important services they need. We’re glad to see the Government of Canada has met our need to build our capacity to serve, raise community awareness and provide better educational programs.”

Kerrie Isaac, Executive Director
Sexual Assault Services of Saskatchewan

Young Women's Christian Association of Regina 

Project title: Building Fund Development Capacity: The Centre for Women and Families
Funding amount: $250,000 

The YWCA Centre for Women and Families will create and implement an effective fund development program. This program will build awareness of YWCA Regina’s current programs and services, engage major community donors and lead the capital campaign to raise $5 million to finance the construction of the Centre for Women and Families, a collaborative service delivery hub that works to support women and their families in Regina in order to advance gender equality in our community. 

YWCA Regina has been in operation and serving the needs of women and families since 1910. Their mission is to support and empower women, children and youth to reach their full potential.

“We are pleased the Government’s new funding model for women’s organizations recognizes the need for more stable, long-term commitments. We will take this opportunity to strengthen our capacity to serve with strategic planning aimed at reducing our dependence on government funding over time. This transition will allow us to become more effective and efficient as we maintain our focus on advancing equality for women in Regina.” 

Melissa Coomber-Bendtsen, Chief Executive Officer
YWCA Regina

YWCA Prince Albert 

Project title: Increase Capacity for Communication, Advocacy, and Women's Empowerment
Funding amount: $243,978 

YWCA Prince Albert seeks to improve their ability to integrate their services and support with the growing needs of a modern society. The project will include a new position within the organization to assist in the development of an effective branding, marketing, communication and advocacy strategy. Empowering and engaging the Prince Albert community to build their capacity to serve requires an updated, relevant digital platform that can work as a two-way system of communication, advocacy and education. 

Since 1912, the YWCA Prince Albert has been a leading provider of housing and services for the most vulnerable people in the community. 

“Our capacity to serve a modern society that relies on the Internet for information and education requires us to develop and update how we use our digital platforms, social media outlets and more. The timeline we need to do this requires stable, long-term funding, something we have never had ready access to in the past. We are pleased to see the Government of Canada has recognized the old funding models as a barrier to gender equality and greatly appreciate this new approach to supporting and funding women’s organizations.” 

Donna Brooks, Chief Executive Officer
YWCA Prince Albert

Department for Women and Gender Equality’s Gender-Based Violence Program 

Following the June 2017 announcement of It’ s Time: Canada’ s Strategy to Prevent and Address Gender-Based Violence, the Department for Women and Gender Equality (formerly Status of Women Canada) launched the Gender-Based Violence (GBV) Program in January 2018. 

The GBV Program complements the department’s Women’ s Program, and helps organizations working in the GBV sector to develop and implement promising practices to address gaps in supports for survivors and their families. 

While violence affects people of all genders, ages, cultures, ethnicities, geographic locations, and socio-economic backgrounds, some populations are more at-risk and face additional barriers to accessing services. The GBV Program responds to this need by providing funding to eligible organizations at the local, regional and national levels for projects that address gaps in supports for specific groups of survivors, including Indigenous women, and other underserved populations, such as children and youth, LGBTQ2 communities, non-status/refugee/immigrant women, seniors, women living in official language minority communities, women living in northern, rural and remote communities, and women living with disabilities. 

Call for concepts: Promising Practices to Support Survivors and their Families 

In January 2018, Minister Monsef announced $20 million in funding for a call for concepts as part of the new Gender-Based Violence Program. Following Budget 2018, the funding for the Gender-Based Violence Program more than doubled so that more organizations, such as sexual assault crisis centres, are better able to help population groups at the highest risk of experiencing violence. The GBV Program piloted an innovative approach to supporting community organizations, which includes: 

  • a longer funding period of up to five years;
  • a two-stage application process, which reduced the administrative burden for applicant organizations. Less information was required in the initial concept phase, which meant a leaner application process for organizations;
  • eligible recipients were expanded to include labour groups and unions; provinces, territories, municipalities and their agencies; research organizations and institutes, centres of expertise, educational institutions (i.e. universities, colleges, CÉGEPs, secondary schools, school boards/school districts), as well as public health institutions, hospitals, and health care service providers; and
  • testing and evaluation of promising practices is emphasized, which will lead to clear impact and results for Canadians. 

Today’s announcement also highlighted one project receiving funding from the GBV Program: 

STOPS to Violence 

Project title: Addressing Gender-Based Violence in Saskatchewan: A Collective Impact Approach
Funding amount: $975,000 

STOPS to Violence will implement and evaluate a collective impact approach to address gender-based violence (GBV) across the province involving stakeholders from different sectors working together to expand the capacity to address GBV in Saskatchewan. 

Saskatchewan Towards Offering Partnership Solutions (STOPS) to Violence is a province-wide network drawing on partnerships, information sharing and education to promote healthy relationships and build strong, peaceful communities. Their network is made up of community organizations, government partners, service providers and individuals from across the province. 

“Our organization is called STOPS to Violence because we want to do just that. We appreciate the support from the federal government which help us to better collaborate with our stakeholders so that we can provide improved services to survivors of gender-based violence across Saskatchewan.” 

Tracy Knutson, Executive Director
STOPS to Violence


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