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Vancouver Regional Roundtable
(July 20, 2016)

On July 20, 2016, the Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Status of Women, hosted a regional roundtable in Vancouver, British Columbia. This roundtable is part of a broader engagement process to engage stakeholders across the country to inform the development of a federal strategy on gender-based violence. More information about the engagement process.

This roundtable brought about 20 stakeholders together to discuss issues related to gender-based violence that are regionally specific. Participants included representatives from non-governmental organizations and universities who work in the areas of: supporting women with disabilities, sex workers, Indigenous women, and newcomer, migrant and immigrant women; sexual assault; prevention work in schools; and legal policies and law reform.

Sheila Malcomson (NDP, Member of Parliament) and representatives from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the British Columbia provincial government were also in attendance.


The roundtable discussion is summarized here. This summary should not be interpreted as a comprehensive account of the discussion, nor is it meant to suggest that there was consensus among the participants on the points outlined below.

Some of the regional considerations participants outlined include the:

  • ongoing, "normalized" violence against women and girls in the Downtown eastside, and a perceived lack of a serious response to this violence
  • increasing student populations, including in Northern and remote areas, who may be transient and at high risk
  • changing nature of some communities, given new immigrant populations
  • the increasing risk of violence for women in workplaces, especially as women are encouraged to pursue work in the skilled trades and other male-dominated professions

Participants shared insights about the needs and experiences of specific populations at risk of gender-based violence, including the need to:

  • connect the high rates of violence perpetrated against Indigenous women and girls, and Indigenous elders, to colonization and residential schools
    • recognize that healing is intergenerational and needs to involve "de-colonization and re-culturization"
    • need to "give voice to" and talk about violence against Indigenous women and girls
  • support and educate new immigrant populations about laws and resources in Canada, given that a lot of violence against immigrant women continues to go unreported
    • frame violence against immigrant women within the broader framework of GBV and be careful not to stigmatize cultural communities or create further biases
  • ensure strategies address the experiences of LGBTQQI2S (Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Trans, Queer and Questioning, Intersex and Two Spirit) communities, as individuals are often rendered invisible or silenced in this sector
  • recognize the lack of services for and data concerning violence against women with disabilities
  • ensure the health and safety of sex workers is a priority, and that they are supported to define their own needs and experiences
  • be mindful of the differences between violence in the context of sex work and human trafficking
  • understand the particular vulnerability of homeless women, and the need to measure and better understand the violence they face
  • understand the vulnerability of pregnant women and the health impacts of violence
  • name and address child sexual abuse and its impacts across the lifespan
  • support women leaving prison, many of whom have previously experienced violence and are marginalized and at risk of further violence upon release

Gaps identified included the need to:

  • better support women's safety in the legal system, as it continues to re-traumatize women
  • provide more training for police and the judiciary, including how to work with and rebuild trust with Indigenous communities and in the area of trauma-informed care
  • better support practitioners, including to deal with vicarious trauma
  • provide more support for projects that are defined locally and in innovative ways (that is, that are not short-term, project-based and expected to fit in pan-Canadian model)
  • review Bill C-36 (An Act to amend the Criminal Code in response to the Supreme Court of Canada decision in Attorney General of Canada v. Bedford and to make consequential amendments to other Acts) in terms of what it means for women who work on the streets and women who engage in indoor sex work; to assess whether it places sex workers in an adversarial relationship with police; and in terms of how it is applied across Canada
  • address jurisdictional barriers, including as they relate to the collection of data and linking data across provinces and territories and across systems (for example, health and justice)

Building on what works, participants suggested:

  • Increasing the focus on prevention, including by educating young men and boys about consent
  • Continuing education efforts on campus, and ensuring university policies are student-led, and support accountability
  • Trauma-informed, feminist responses, including those that recognize women's resistance and involve survivors in designing them
  • Locally led, community based initiatives, including those in Indigenous communities involving youth and focus on shifting norms about violence
  • Ceremony to recognize violence against women, including men's roles in ending it, to help with healing trauma and healing spirits
  • Commemorative events and activities to increase public awareness and education and build partnerships
  • Holistic responses, recognizing emotional and physical health/mental health and other needs of victims and survivors, and the importance of affordable housing and childcare
  • Defining outcomes in multiple ways, including letting women define what success means (for example, connecting with culture, processing grief, taking back control) and through other external measures (for example, finding housing, completing school)
  • Coordinated responses, including those focused on building positive relationships between the community and the police

Overall, participants highlighted that the federal strategy should recognize:

  • violence crosses cultures and communities
  • the needs of specific vulnerable groups
  • women's self-determination and choice
  • community strengths and knowledge to define what works
  • the importance of partnerships in bringing about change
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