Support for Nova Scotia’s First Nations People Facing Domestic Violence

women-violence

From Peace Bonds to Emergency Protection Orders

Until recently, those living in First Nations communities in Nova Scotia did not have the same emergency protections against domestic violence as other Nova Scotians. That meant that First Nations victims of domestic abuse were often left with sub-par strategies for handling abusive situations. They could apply for a peace bond from the court, but that was only available during regular business hours. Families were advised to call 911 or go to a shelter in emergency situations. Peace bonds take longer than getting an emergency protection order and they require the person named in the complaint to be given a chance to respond to the application.

Now, a First Nations family seeking immediate protection from domestic abuse can now apply for an emergency protection order. Emergency short-term orders that can now be enacted immediately and last for up to 30 days. Justices of the peace and family and provincial court judges are issuing these orders as needed under Nova Scotia’s Domestic Violence Intervention Act. Those in need can now apply for emergency protection orders by phone seven days a week (9am-9pm). Overnight hearings are possible depending on the crisis.

New “Second-Stage” Housing

Joanne Bernard, minister responsible for Housing Nova Scotia and the Nova Scotia Advisory Council on the Status of Women said, “”We know indigenous women need a culturally sensitive approach that supports their specific needs.”

In addition to new laws around protection orders, the provincial and federal governments have committed up to $824,000 for a four-unit development for ‘second-stage’ housing.  Second-stage housing is longer-term, individual housing, where residents can stay for a longer period of time. There are programs and services offered to help them transition to independent living. The Mi’kmaw Native Friendship Centre in Halifax will provide support services for victims of domestic violence, such as counselling, parenting and employment assistance programs.

This blog post was written by a CCLA-PBSC RightsWatch student. Views expressed do not necessarily reflect the view of the CCLA or PBSC.