Using this Resource

VAW Legal Information Resource: Supporting Aboriginal Women Facing Violence is an on-line legal information resource intended to support Violence Against Women (VAW) service staff who are working with First Nation, Métis or Inuit women. It provides an introduction to understanding areas of law that impact women dealing with violence, why they are important to understand, how VAW service providers can help and useful resources for more information. Intended as an information resource, VAW Legal Information Resource – Vawlawinfo.ca – does not provide legal advice, nor is it a substitute for legal advice.

Project Background: Building Service Capacity: Supporting Access to Justice for Aboriginal Women Dealing with Violence

VAW Legal Information Resource was developed from a two year training project designed to increase access to justice for First Nation, Métis and Inuit women facing violence by providing VAW service provider staff with a better understanding of key concepts in relevant areas of law. The project, Building Service Capacity: Supporting Access to Justice for Aboriginal Women Dealing with Violence, funded by the Law Foundation of Ontario, provided legal support training for women’s shelter and outreach service staff in 10 communities, where agencies were serving a high number of First Nation, Métis or Inuit women dealing with violence.

Legal consultants delivered four-day training workshops to VAW shelter and outreach staff in YWCA Canada Member Associations and community partners in:

  • Alberta: Lethbridge
  • Manitoba: Brandon and Thompson
  • Northwest Territories: Yellowknife
  • Nunavut: Iqaluit
  • Ontario: Sudbury and Muskoka
  • Saskatchewan: Regina, Saskatoon, and Prince Albert

Training sessions were tailored to each community, and included local presenters to provide detailed information and community connections, as well as local presenters setting the Aborginal context. Training sessions also included site visits to local service providers such as the child welfare office or a courthouse. The site visits and presentations from local representatives supported strengthening relationships between sectors and individuals working with First Nation, Métis or Inuit women dealing with violence. Selected materials presented at each training site are included in the Workshop Resources section.

Resource Development

The information provided in this on-line resource is based on the legal information presented during the training sessions conducted in the Building Service Capacity project. The workshops identified the following legal areas as most relevant for VAW service provider staff to be familiar with in order to support First Nation, Métis and Inuit women facing violence:

  • Child Protection Law
  • Family Law
  • Criminal Law
  • Legal Protection Orders
  • Matrimonial Real Property (MRP) on Reserve
  • Income Support

These form the basis of VAW Legal Information Resource.

Information on the context of First Nations, Métis and Inuit women in Canada today, including historical and legal context, is included in the section Understanding the First Nations, Métis and Inuit Context. The section is intended to provide key concepts in the structures and functioning of colonialism in Canada. Materials on First Nations, Métis and Inuit context from the workshops are located in the Workshop Resources section.

In the training, participants identified the information which they felt would help them to have a better understanding of how to support and advocate for women. This is captured in Key Information for VAW Support Workers in each of the legal area sections.

Resource Purpose and Limitations

This resource was developed to be used by staff in VAW shelters and support services. It provides basic information on the areas of law, legal issues, processes and options that are likely to be relevant to women experiencing violence, with a particular focus on areas relevant to First Nations, Métis and Inuit women. VAW Legal Information Resource provides an overview of the key concepts in each identified area of law and is not intended to provide complete information about the law.

This on-line legal resource does not provide legal advice, nor does it replace legal advice. For legal advice, women should be connected directly to professional legal advice, and should be assisted in finding a lawyer by VAW service staff. Names of provincial and territorial statues are provided for reference and are accurate at the time of writing. The information in this resource has been reviewed for accuracy as of January 2014, and does not reflect any changes in the law or processes occurring after that date.