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


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.

Ottawa Projects

Today’s announcement profiled 12 projects in Ottawa selected for federal funding through the Capacity-building Fund:

Action ontarienne contre la violence faite aux femmes (AOcVF)

Project title: Strengthening French-language services in Ontario for women survivors of violence

Funding amount: $571,830

AOcVF will increase its organizational capacity as well as that of its member organizations in order to better serve Francophone women in Ontario. This funding will allow AOcVF to strengthen its governance, strategic planning, human resource management, collaboration and advocacy. AOcVF will also develop a partnership-building strategy to strengthen its collaborative work with member organizations and partners. This work will increase the capacity of Francophone organizations in Ontario through the development of a collective advocacy strategy.

AOcVF was founded in 1988 by frontline workers who identified the need for a province-wide francophone feminist organization informed by a feminist analysis to establish French-language services and produce education and awareness materials.

“The demand for French-language services for women who are victims of violence is increasing in Ontario. To continue to respond, we must adapt. With the support of the federal government, we now have the funds to update and strengthen our structures, including our governance, collaborations and partnerships, for greater collective impact to address ​​violence against women. This project will strengthen the capacity of our organization at all levels to better meet our growing demand.”

Maggy Razafimbahiny, Interim Director General
Action ontarienne contre la violence faite aux femmes

Alliance des femmes de la francophonie canadienne (AFFC)

Project title: On the Move: Ensuring the Capacity-building of Francophone and Acadian organizations in Canada

Funding amount: $514,675

AFFC plans to strengthen its organizational capacities to better support member organizations representing Francophone and Acadian women’s communities. AFFC will develop and implement sustainable solutions to increase networking skills, training, and knowledge transfer of best practices among member organizations. These activities are expected to have a ripple effect on increasing capacity for member organizations and contributing to improvements in the social, economic and civic development of Francophone women in minority situations.

AFFC represents over 1.3 million women from Canada’s Francophone and Acadian communities and works with 13 women’s organizations across the country. It is dedicated to gender equality, raising awareness and promoting the role and contribution of Francophone women in their communities and their right to live and develop fully in French.

“We are very thankful for today’s investment. The value of the services we provide for Francophone and Acadian women is well understood by other women’s organizations and by the women who rely on us for support. With this new long-term funding from the Government of Canada, we can strengthen our organization and provide support to other Francophone women’s organizations across the country.”

Soukaina Boutiyeb, Directrice générale
Alliance des femmes de la francophonie canadienne

CALACS Francophone d’Ottawa

Project title: Leading the Way

Funding amount: $198,405

CALACS Francophone d’Ottawa has identified a critical need to retain and document essential institutional knowledge. Its work is concerned with the transfer of knowledge from one generation of providers to the next and will make this knowledge accessible and create optimum conditions for its transfer, acquisition and integration into the day-to-day operations of the organization. The knowledge transfer tools and best practices developed throughout the duration of this work will be shared with the CALACS network and other organizations in the sector.

CALACS Francophone d’Ottawa is a feminist organization, managed and operated by and for women, that strives for equality. It offers a multitude of services to French-speaking women survivors aged 16 and over and is actively involved in GBV prevention and awareness in the community.  

“Each generation learns from the previous one and within organizations like ours, this is especially true. The time and effort required to collect this knowledge and integrate it requires dedicated funding and resources. We are excited to have an investment from the federal government so we can start to share this knowledge with the next generation of providers for the benefit of the women they serve.”

Josée Guidon, Manager
CALACS Francophone d’Ottawa

Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies (CAEFS)

Project title: Sisters Inside: Building Capacity to support access to justice and equality for criminalized women

Funding amount: $687,450

CAEFS is looking to develop the partnerships, tools and training needed to support its advocacy work for women and gender equality at the local and national level. On the local level, CAEFS will supply long-term support to member societies in scaling up and developing programs and services that address barriers to justice and long-term reintegration of criminalized women.

CAEFS is an association of self-governing, community-based Elizabeth Fry Societies that work with and for women and girls in the justice system, particularly those who are, or may be, criminalized. It has 24 member societies across Canada and continues to maintain and strengthen its ties with other national justice, women’s and voluntary organizations.

“We are pleased to learn our project was approved for a long-term investment under the federal government’s new plan for women’s organizations. Barriers to justice and reintegration into society are long-term problems that require constant attention and advocacy. This funding will help us support local members who are scaling up to meet the rising demand for services while strengthening our advocacy for women and gender equality at the local and national levels.”

Kassandra Churcher, Executive Director
Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies

City for All Women Initiative (CAWI)

Project title: Coming into Our Own

Funding amount: $222,360

CAWI seeks to ensure their work to advance gender equality and improve women’s social and democratic engagement continues. This funding will allow CAWI to restructure and expand, primarily in the area of human resources and financial sustainability. In order to achieve more financial independence, CAWI will develop a successful social enterprise with the services it provides in facilitation and organizational change to advance equity.

CAWI began in Ottawa in 2004 to ensure the concerns of women from diverse backgrounds are considered in municipal decision-making. At the time, Ottawa did not have the type of information needed to take gender and diversity into account. In June 2004, Ottawa City Council passed a motion to formally recognize CAWI as a city-community partnership.

“For years we have been preoccupied with engaging a diversity of women and building partnerships to the point where we had no time or resources for managing our own growth as an organization. Thanks to today’s announcement from the Government of Canada, we will have stable funding to reorganize and achieve our financial and strategic goals for more financial independence.”

Valerie Stam, Executive Director
City for All Women Initiative

Feminist Alliance for International Action (FAFIA)

Project title: Capacity Building for the Future

Funding amount: $406,400

FAFIA will be able to build its capacity to deliver services and programs and improve all areas of its business and fundraising structures. FAFIA will create a series of strategic plans to review and revise three main areas of engagement: fundraising, communications and partnerships. An additional long-term outcome will be a comprehensive business plan and a renewed vision for governance and better communications with member organizations and the broader public.

FAFIA is an alliance of equality-seeking organizations committed to making international agreements on women’s human rights a reality. It has member groups at the provincial, territorial and national levels. It provides a forum for women from across Canada to work together to ensure a better quality of life for all women.

“FAFIA works with organizations from across Canada to implement women’s international human rights. For many years, we struggled with volunteer labor alone. This investment from the federal government will mean we can restructure and plan for the future. Building our capacity means we can be here for the future of women’s rights in Canada.” 

Amanda Dale, Director
Feminist Alliance for International Action

Immigrant Women Services Ottawa (IWSO)

Project title: Equal pay for equal services: Closing the Salary Gap

Funding amount: $200,000

IWSO is developing a sustainability strategy to diversify their funding base and close the salary gap for its staff – a workforce comprised entirely of immigrant, refugee and racial minority women. Greater economic equality for IWSO’s staff will reduce time spent recruiting and result in greater retention of service providers and a more efficient use of resources. This funding will allow these women to gain expertise as they grow along with the agency, knowing their economic security is less of an issue than it may have been. During the scope of the project, senior staff at IWSO will increase awareness-raising activities for issues affecting immigrant women on their journey to becoming equal members in Canadian society.

IWSO is a community-based agency serving immigrant and visible minority women since 1988. It works to create opportunities for women to integrate into society, rebuild lives free of violence, and achieve personal goals. Every year, over 2,000 women and children are helped by IWSO’s dedicated staff and volunteers.

“Like the many strong women who come to us for help, we want to be as independent as possible, and this requires financial security. Our plan to diversify our funding and close the salary gap for our staff can finally move forward now that we have support from the federal government. We are grateful for their help and expect the outcome of this investment to make a significant difference in the lives of our devoted and dedicated staff, all of whom are immigrants, refugees or minority women.”

Mercy Lawluvi, Executive Director
Immigrant Women Services Ottawa

Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC)

Project title: Risk Management and Building Grassroots Capacity

Funding amount: $750,000

With this funding, NWAC will develop and apply a risk management framework to building capacity at the grassroots level. This framework will identify, monitor, and mitigate risks to the organization. NWAC will also identify and implement needed changes and revisions to its internal policies, systems, and processes necessary for long term stability and sustainability. This approach will also be used for building financial capacity and improving governance among its Provincial and Territorial Member Associations (PTMAs). Outcomes are expected to result in improved organizational stability and governance. This change will benefit the work of NWAC and PTMAs in supporting the wellbeing and prosperity of Indigenous women, girls, Two-Spirit, and gender-diverse people.

NWAC was incorporated as a non-profit in 1974. It was founded on the collective goal to enhance, promote, and foster the social, economic, cultural and political wellbeing of First Nations, Métis and Inuit women, girls and gender-diverse people within First Nations, Métis and Inuit Canadian societies.

“We are thankful for the support from the federal government. It will help improve our internal capacity and organizational structure, which will help ensure the greater wellbeing and prosperity of Indigenous women, girls, Two-Spirit, and gender diverse people in our communities.”

Lynne Groulx, CEO
Native Women’s Association of Canada

Ottawa Coalition to End Violence Against Women (OCTEVAW)

Project title: Ending VAW: Strengthening Our Foundation, Building Our Movement

Funding amount: $122,400

This funding will allow OCTEVAW to strengthen its organizational capacity, especially on communications and outreach, advocacy, and revenue generation. The project outcomes include an advocacy strategy and tool-kit, a knowledge transfer strategy, a comprehensive communications strategy, and a digital media strategy. OCTEVAW will also identify and develop revenue generation strategies to contribute to its long-term sustainability. Tools and best practices derived from its work will be shared with others.

OCTEVAW is a non-profit, non-partisan coalition that unites organizations and individuals in Ottawa and the region to end gender-based violence and abuse against women and children. Members and partners include rape crisis agencies; victim services; child protection services; area hospitals; representatives of the justice system, including the police, the Crown, and probation and parole services; health and counselling services; academic researchers; and other concerned community members.

“Our mission is to end gender-based violence and violence against women. We believe in women’s, girls and gender diverse peoples’ right to live free of violence and abuse. Thanks to the investment from the federal government, we will strengthen our capacity, and better serve survivors.” 

Erin Leigh, Executive Director
Ottawa Coalition to End Violence Against Women

Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada

Project title: Strengthening the Inuit Women Sector – Working Together to Build Capacity

Funding amount: $736,903

Pauktuutit will use this funding to strengthen its partnerships by providing a platform for Inuit women to come together and communicate their distinct and shared priorities. It seeks to establish the Inuit Women’s Advocacy Network, while also providing the knowledge sharing and collaboration needed to develop a strategy with specific outcomes to address key needs, gaps and challenges.

Pauktuutit is the national organization representing Inuit women in Canada. Pauktuutit fosters greater awareness of the needs of Inuit women, advocates for equality and social improvements, and encourages Inuit women’s full participation in the community and in the regional and national life of Canada.

“Inuit women are stronger when we work together and help one another. We need to be able to come together to share our ideas, priorities and knowledge so we can continue to grow. We are thankful that our plan to develop an advocacy network for Inuit women has received support and funding from the Government of Canada. Through the continuing efforts of Inuit women and with support such as this, a brighter future is made possible for ourselves, our families and our communities.”

Rebecca Kudloo, President
Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada

St. Matthew’s Harmony House

Project title: The Next Ten Years

Funding amount: $22,800

St. Matthew’s Harmony House will develop an in-depth strategic plan to ensure it has the resources to meet the emerging needs of women and children whose lives are impacted by violence. The strategic plan will cover all aspects of the organization including finances, human resources, partnerships and strategic direction and goals.

St. Matthew’s Harmony House is a second-stage shelter providing a transition period from crisis shelter services to independent living for women and their children who are survivors of violence. It promotes the creation of a world where women and their children are safe and free from all forms of violence and oppression.

“The considerable challenges faced by survivors of violence fleeing violence and front-line agencies like Harmony House that support them, require us to pause from time to time, to consider how we can best meet ongoing and emerging needs of the women and children we work with. Thanks to today’s investment from the federal government, we will have the opportunity to ensure we have a solid plan that takes us into the future prepared to adapt and respond in the best way possible so we can continue to assist women and children to build futures free of violence‎.” 

Leighann Burns, Executive Director
St. Matthew’s Harmony House

The Sexual Assault Support Centre of Ottawa (SASC)

Project title: Fit for the Future: Restructuring SASC for the survivors of today and tomorrow

Funding amount: $190,770

SASC is facing rising demand for its services and this funding will allow it to strengthen its capacity to respond to the needs of survivors of sexual violence. SASC will use this funding to become a stronger, more flexible and effective organization. Work will be undertaken to develop a strategic plan that includes a complete review of existing processes and policies. A feminist program evaluation framework will be used to assess existing programs and those in development.

SASC is a community-based non-profit established in 1983 to provide survivor-directed support services to women who have experienced sexual violence. It offers a 24-hour support line, group and individual support, legal advocacy, accompaniment to court, hospital and police, information, public education and specialized programs for young women, immigrant and refugee women and women who have experienced cult abuse.

“The demand for our services has risen with the growth of the communities we serve. Our need to reinvent ourselves has come at a time when long-term funding is difficult to secure. We’re thankful the federal government has provided this multi-year funding plan for women’s organizations, which will help the many survivors of sexual violence who rely on SASC and other centres for services and support.”

Ezioma O. Nnorom, Acting Executive Director
The Sexual Assault Support Centre of Ottawa

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.

Ottawa Projects

Today’s announcement also highlighted three projects in Ottawa, Ontario, receiving funding from the GBV Program:

Inuuqatigiit Centre for Inuit Children, Youth and Families

Project title: Inuit Well Being: Support for Inuit Impacted by Gender-Based Violence and their families

Funding amount: $750,000

The Inuuqatigiit Centre for Inuit Children, Youth and Families is a major hub of early years and youth services for Inuit families in Ottawa. To expand its ability to deliver services and programs related to gender-based violence, this project will test and evaluate an Inuit-specific, strength-based, trauma-informed, and holistic model of service delivery for Inuit women survivors of gender-based violence and their families. The project will focus on delivering culturally appropriate programs and services and any additional supports that may be required, depending on outcomes and expectations.

The Inuuqatigiit Centre for Inuit Children, Youth and Families is a multi-service organization that provides cultural, educational, recreational and social support services to Inuit women, children, youth and families. It was established in 2005 by parents of children enrolled in the Head Start Children’s Program at Tungasuvvingat Inuit, their program sponsor. In 2006, sponsorship was transferred by the Public Health Agency of Canada to the present-day Inuuqatigiit Centre for Inuit Children, Youth and Families.

“We have grown in a short time from an organization serving Inuit families and children into a multi-service provider with the ability to deliver programs across a wide range of social services. But our present capacity to address issues of gender-based violence needs to be reviewed and expanded. We are very grateful for this investment from the federal government in our future programs to combat gender-based violence with specific services that are designed by and for Inuit women survivors and their families.

Karen Baker-Anderson, Executive Director
Inuuqatigiit Centre for Inuit Children, Youth and Families

Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC)

Project title: Developing Evidence-Based Training to Service Providers, Supporting LGBTQ+ and Two-Spirit Indigenous Survivors of Gender-based Violence

Funding amount: up to $982,710

NWAC will use this funding to develop and test an engagement and training manual for service providers supporting Indigenous LGBTQ2 and Two-Spirit survivors of gender-based violence. The manual will be developed with input from survivors of gender-based violence and will be culturally relevant and trauma-informed.

NWAC was incorporated as a non-profit in 1974. It was founded on the collective goal to enhance, promote, and foster the social, economic, cultural and political wellbeing of First Nations, Métis and Inuit women, girls and gender-diverse people within First Nations, Métis and Inuit Canadian societies.

“For us to train providers to respond appropriately and effectively in a variety of circumstances and conditions, our training needs to be upgraded. We are pleased to receive this new investment from the Government of Canada that will help us do our work with confidence and continue supporting Indigenous survivors of gender-based violence.”

Lynne Groulx, CEO
Native Women’s Association of Canada

Women of the Métis Nation (WMN) (Les Femmes Michif Otipemisiwak)

Project title: Community-Based Engagement of Métis Survivors of Gender-Based Violence

Funding amount: up to $1 million

WMN will engage Métis survivors of gender-based violence to help test and evaluate the promising practice of shaping Métis-specific services for those impacted by gender-based violence. This will be achieved through engaging and encouraging survivors to share experiences and in doing so, help to shape the services they need. Over time, the outcomes will be developed and adapted to ensure the services that are delivered promote healing and recovery.

Les Femmes Michif Otipemisiwak-WMN promotes and represents the personal, spiritual, social, cultural, political and economic interests and aspirations of women of the Métis Nation in Canada. Operating as a secretariat of the Métis National Council since 1999, it was incorporated in 2010 at the organization’s inaugural meeting.

“Providing improved services to Métis survivors of gender-based violence is an important and necessary step for us to take. With this new support from the federal government, we can do the work over time and design Métis-specific programs with the help and guidance of Métis survivors. This will improve and empower the lives of Métis women and contribute to the collective knowledge we need to better address gender-based violence in our communities.”

Melanie Omeniho, President
Women of the Métis Nation (Les Femmes Michif Otipemisiwak)

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