New police strategy to include prevention, support for Indigenous women

The Greater Sudbury Police Service wants to help educate Indigenous women and girls, as well as keep them safe. Resources were compiled over the past two years to create a strategy in response to the national inquiry on missing and murdered Indigenous women. Part of the initiative provides prevention outreach materials for at-risk Indigenous women and girls.

Sudbury Police set to launch strategy booklet May 16

Lisa Osawamick is the Aboriginal Woman Violence Prevention Coordinator at Greater Sudbury Police. She is the support person who helps Indigenous women and girls who may be the victim of crime. (@SudburyPolice on Twitter)

Sudbury Police want to help educate Indigenous women and girls, as well as keep them safe.

At its "year in review" celebration next month, the police service will officially launch its formal public strategy document that responds to its year-long project "Looking ahead to build the spirit of our women: Learning to live free from violence."

The local initiative is in response to the national inquiry on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women. It took two years to compile and is a partnership with the N'Swakamok Native Friendship Centre in Sudbury, Ont.

Part of the strategy is to provide outreach and pro-active education for at-risk Indigenous women and girls, says Lisa Osawamick, who is the Aboriginal Women Violence Prevention Coordinator for Sudbury Police.

She says the team sought out input from community members within Indigenous groups and agencies to help design the strategy.

"We asked them for feedback on what they would like to see."

"We don't want our daughters or aunties to go missing"

Within the prevention part of the strategy, Osawamick and other members of the team provide outreach workshops, presentations and educational material.

"One of the visions that we had through this particular initiative is that we don't want anybody to go missing or [be] murdered. We don't want our daughters or aunties to go missing or [be] murdered."

Another part of the strategy provides resources following a crime.

As the Aboriginal Prevention Coordinator, Osawamick sits with Indigenous women or girls who may have been the victim of a crime. She provides culturally appropriate support.

The strategy also includes a family tool kit.

Osawamick says if a family reports that a loved one has gone missing or was the victim of homicide, the resources available within the strategy include information about what role police can have in the case or what a family can expect.

Sudbury is unique

Osawamick hopes other Ontario communities follow suit. She says Sudbury is the only police service so far to create such a strategy.

"I think we are pretty unique in Ontario, [having] a joint initiative with the Greater Sudbury Police and Indigenous agencies such as N'Swakamok Native Friendship Centre," says Osawamick.

"There is hope that our young girls can grow up and live in safe environments in our city."