Manitoba announces new support for families of MMIWG2S+

The Manitoba government is creating a new $15-million “healing and empowerment” endowment fund, that will offer support for the families of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls and two-spirit (MMIWG2S+).

Families Minister Nahanni Fontaine made the announcement on Red Dress Day, a day meant to remember and honour MMIWG2S+.

She called the endowment historic and transformative, emphasizing that this money will help to directly support affected families.

“All of us that have been doing this work and are involved with the community know Bernice and Wilfred Catcheway. And every year, they go and search for their beautiful daughter Jennifer Catcheway. They have searched our province high and low, and they have done it on their own dollars. This endowment fund will help support that.”

Fontaine says the fund will also help fund Indigenous-led frontline organizations, and support family members looking to further their education, or access healing and ceremony.

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She says it will be a permanent fixture in the province, continuing long after she leaves office.

“No matter what government is in place in Manitoba, this endowment fund will exist. No matter what minister is at the helm, this endowment fund will always exist for families.”

Raven Hart and the Kind Hart Women Singers perform an honour song at Sunday’s announcement. Arsalan Saeed / GLOBAL NEWS

The investment is expected to generate up to $750-thousand every year, which will be paid out in application-based grants.

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“This is going to mean the world to so many families, and help save so many families’ lives,” says housing and addictions minister Bernadette Smith.

“As a family impacted by this, I know how very difficult it has been for many of our families struggling through this. Struggling to access funds, struggling to even get a poster put up, to get resources, to be able to access ceremony, to get gas money to get into the city to search for their loved one, to have a place to stay.”

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The fund will accept donations, and Fontaine hopes that it will one day grow to $50-million.

“To that end, we will be ensuring that we are seeking donations from corporate entities, businesses, and the like. Anybody who says that they believe in reconciliation, that they’re on the path of reconciliation, action that. Action that and invest in the endowment fund.”

Guidelines for eligibility and distribution will be developed in the coming months, in partnership with MMIWG2S+ families, the Matriarch Circle and community partners.

The project is expected to launch in 2025, and will be managed by the Winnipeg Foundation.

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Canada, Manitoba to develop Red Dress Alert for missing Indigenous women and girls

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