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INDIGENOUS WOMEN: Canada's fastest growing prison population. Why?

Indigenous women are the most victimized and oppressed group in Canada and 90% of incarcerated women report being victims of assault.
Valent Legal Spotlight_June

One reason for this startling fact: Indigenous women are the most victimized and oppressed group in Canada and 90% of incarcerated women report being victims of assault. When we fail women in our communities, they are at risk for ending up in our criminal justice system.

When you read statistics and facts like these, among the emotions which likely bubble up are outrage, sadness and often frustration over not knowing how you can help.  Anyone can point toward an issue. It is the special few who are compelled into action and the rarest of those who create measurable results.

Imagine the remarkable improvement to underserved communities when a partnership extends beyond the dotted line into a mission for social justice and change. 

That tangible improvement is happening now in the lives of our province’s most vulnerable women and children who have powerful, compassionate, and dedicated allies in the Elizabeth Fry Society and Valent Legal.  This trailblazing partnership is redefining how companies and non-profit organizations can impact cultural and social institutions when they operate in tandem.

Representing the Elizabeth Fry Society of Mainland Nova Scotia, Executive Director Emma Halpern explains, “It is about social good and social entrepreneurship through supporting the work of Elizabeth Fry to provide services to the most vulnerable women, girls, and gender diverse individuals in our community. This partnership provides the foundation for building access to justice for people who otherwise are marginalized.”

“People’s problems don’t occur in a vacuum”

Every day in Nova Scotia, individuals find themselves in a variety of life-altering situations ranging from a housing crisis, economic insecurity, workplace harassment, discrimination, mental health challenges, legal issues and beyond.

“People’s problems don’t occur in a vacuum and it’s so hard for people who are particularly vulnerable. They may come to Valent (Legal) for their legal problems but there are multiple other ways their lives are challenged. To solve their problems more broadly, they need other types of support.” Halpern continues, “Through their (Valent Legal) partnership with the Elizabeth Fry Society, we can provide wraparound support for our most vulnerable citizens in all the aspects of someone’s life that requires change.”

When sending a cheque is no longer enough  

As Halpern describes it, “law firms can do tremendous good in our community through meaningful partnerships with community organizations and charities.” Halpern elaborates, “This partnership is more than just a charitable donation. Valent Legal’s resources help us to grow our work, think differently about our work, and we are improving their work as a result.”

This unique and visionary partnership is seeking social change by both building community and reforming the broken systems currently in place. The combined services provide the structure for marginalized women through fostering reintegration, rehabilitation, personal empowerment, and addressing the root causes of criminalization.

“Elizabeth Fry helps expand the reach of our law firm and the work we do in advancing the rights of vulnerable individuals,” says Mike Dull, partner with Halifax law firm Valent Legal. “Because again, as Emma said: it’s not about a paycheque. Our intent here is to highlight systemic issues that marginalize people and work toward changing them as much as we can.”

To discover more about the assistance the Elizabeth Fry Society offers visit efrymns.ca and learn more about the Human Rights and Social Justice work by Valent Legal visit here.
 

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