Evidence of meeting #25 for Status of Women in the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was communities.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Chief Anne Archambault  Assembly of the First Nations of Quebec and Labrador
Renée Brassard  Assistant professor, School of Social Work, Université Laval, As an Individual
Mélanie Denis-Damée  Provincial Representative Substitute Representative, Council for young women, Quebec Native Women Inc.
Guy Duchesneau  Social Services Coordinator, Health, Leisure and Social Services Department, Huron-Wendat First Nation Council
Ann Desnoyers  Social Worker, Health, Leisure and Social Services Department, Huron-Wendat First Nation Council
Laura Munn-Rivard  Committee Researcher
Julie Cool  Committee Researcher
Isabelle Dumas  Procedural Clerk
Stéphane Savard  Suicide and Family Violence Prevention Counsellor, First Nations of Quebec and Labrador Health and Social Services Commission, Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador

9:35 a.m.


The Chair Liberal Hedy Fry

Good morning, everyone. I'm going to call this meeting to order.

Thank you so much for coming. I don't know if you know exactly what this committee is doing, but according to something known as Standing Order 108(2), we are looking at a study of violence against aboriginal women.

We're looking at violence against aboriginal women from a broad perspective. We're looking at the root causes of that violence and how it has lasted for such a long time. We're looking at the extent of it and what sorts of violence we are talking about--is it simply one sort of violence? We don't want to talk about domestic violence only; we want to talk about all the violence--psychological, physical, and sexual--and discrimination, if there is any, which is a form of violence. We want to discuss the whole broad scope of violence as you see it.

Secondly, we wanted to look at ways in which we can remedy it. Now, understanding that government cannot remedy anything with regard to aboriginal people--there is a long history--what are the things we can put in place that would assist aboriginal women especially, as well as men and families, to be able to achieve some sort of life free from this abnormal level of violence? We understand that this abnormal level of violence is three times the level of violence against non-aboriginal women in Canada even though aboriginals make up only 3% of the population.

We have four groups. Normally each group has about 10 minutes, give or take, whatever you feel comfortable with, to just tell us about what you think under those headings. Then we will have some questions and answers and have an interaction. If you hear a question and you believe you have something to say, you can jump in and answer.

Even though it is a formal meeting, we're trying to make it as informal as possible to make everyone feel comfortable with being very open and frank about what they want to discuss.

From the Assembly of the First Nations of Quebec and Labrador, we have with us Grand Chief Anne Archambault.

Will you begin, please? You have with you Monsieur Savard, who is your conseiller en prévention. Both of you can decide how you want to present. I'll give you a two-minute warning if you are going for very long.

9:35 a.m.

Grand Chief Anne Archambault Assembly of the First Nations of Quebec and Labrador

Thank you, madame la présidente.

Good morning, everybody.

Ladies and gentlemen, good morning.

On behalf of the Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador, I would first like to thank the Standing Committee on the Status of Women for inviting us to make a presentation during these hearings on violence against Aboriginal women.

It is our hope that your government will consider the realities of First Nations and that the points I will be making can become the basis for a real partnership—one where Canadian government officials treat First Nations' political leaders as equals, with a view to developing policies and implementing the appropriate measures.

I would like to quickly present a demographic profile of the First Nations in Quebec and Labrador. Although the population of Quebec is aging, the reality among First Nations is completely different, as they are experiencing strong demographic growth and have the youngest population compared to Canada's overall population, the average age in the Aboriginal population being 24.7 years of age, compared to 37.7 for Quebec. The First Nations represent approximately 1% of Quebec's population, with 70,946 members living in more than 40 communities and distributed among 10 distinctive nations. The population and its geographic location vary considerably from one nation to the next and from one community to the next. They are scattered across regions to which access is limited, as well as in remote, rural and urban areas.

I would like to provide you with a brief overview of the current situation. The socio-economic status of the Aboriginal people, and particularly Aboriginal women, is one of the consequences of colonization. Prior to the arrival of the Europeans, the Aboriginal nations were sovereign and independent. At the time, they already had their own customs, languages, systems of law and government, as well as their culture. Women were held in high esteem because they gave life and passed on the traditions. Following contact with the Europeans and the colonization process, the traditional systems underlying Aboriginal society were compromised. Legislation, and particularly the Indian Act, caused them to lose their independence, as that statute set the rules to be followed from then on with respect to almost every aspect of their lives. That legislation has had grave consequences for Aboriginal women, considerably weakening their traditional role within society, within their own society.

In order to have a better appreciation of violence against Aboriginal women, it is also necessary to look at the socio-economic context in which they are evolving, something that has a direct impact on that issue. I will not take time to provide the statistics.

Mr. Rodolfo Stavenhagen, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous people, mentions in his report, following a visit to Canada, that he would put Canada in 63rd place among the nations of the world as regards the social conditions of Aboriginal people in this country. Their socio-economic conditions, major changes to their traditional way of life, the effect of Indian residential schools and the use of alcohol and other harmful substances are the main factors behind the violence directed at Aboriginal women.

Let's talk about that violence. Aboriginal women who are victims of violence are often living in poverty, are often younger and have less education. A number of statistics show that Aboriginal women are more affected by violence than non-Aboriginal women.

Economic conditions are one of the early signs of violence. In a situation where there is violence, there is often isolation as well. I would like to read you a quote: “The psychological after-effects of violence are many: disruption, frustration, confusion, anger, sadness, a sense of helplessness and loss of self-esteem.” That is taken from a summary by Karen Myers published in 1995.

According to Health Canada, Aboriginal women are five times more likely to require medical care following acts of violence. The lack of resources available to victims is such that they must leave the community and settle in urban areas to receive the care and support they need in order to heal. Furthermore, Aboriginal women who are victims of violence also face other obstacles, such as racism, discrimination, isolation, and linguistic, cultural and geographic barriers.

At this point, I would like to address the causes and disastrous consequences associated with violence and sexual abuse in the communities. The immediate environment is a huge risk factor that must not be overlooked. There is the overcrowding in our communities, to which can be added problems of poverty and inadequate educational attainment, and when combined with alcohol and drug use, you have an explosive mix that can result in violence of all kinds against women in our communities. When I say “violence of all kinds”, I am referring to psychological violence, verbal violence, physical violence and sexual violence.

There are no services available in our communities and no resources are specifically dedicated to dealing with the problem of violence and sexual abuse. Furthermore, communities are remote and travel is difficult. The fact that communities are not equipped at the local level has consequences in terms of the number of complaints. The lack of awareness of local services, combined with the problems of violence and sexual abuse, all contribute to fewer complaints from women who are victims of violence and sexual abuse.

The complexities of the legal system and language problems, taken together with the concept of confidentiality in the communities, also have disastrous repercussions. The lack of response protocols and adequate training programs on how to deal with violence and sexual abuse are also factors in preventing women from using community services.

It is also important to consider that someone who has grown up in a violent environment and has witnessed violence may consider it to be normal and inevitable, and that person will have a strong tendency to reproduce that behaviour throughout his life—hence the need to pay particular attention to our children and provide them with the necessary protection.

In closing, as you can see, the phenomenon of violence against Aboriginal women must not be taken lightly. The paucity of human resources in the communities, combined with a trivialization of this issue, mean that women often end up coping with the violence and sexual abuse on their own.

What is needed is a package of coordinated programs and measures providing for continuity of services, in order to counter and reduce violence and sexual abuse against women in the communities. The program on violence has never met the communities' expectations. Monies invested in prevention are still inadequate, considering the huge need in the communities. A violence prevention program alone cannot satisfy the communities' need for assistance.

Finally, the Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador recommends the following: develop specialized resources to deal with sexual violence; invest in a specific anti-violence training program, in order to equip the communities with the needed specialized resources; invest additional money in order to ensure, not only prevention, but the development of a continuum of services to cope with violence against women; foster partnerships with provincial authorities as regards the justice system, resources geared to the communities and memoranda of understanding; and, finally, develop a program aimed at preventing violence against young children.

Thank you for your kind attention.

9:45 a.m.


The Chair Liberal Hedy Fry

Merci, madame.

Now we will hear from Ms. Renée Brassard, professor of social work at the University of Laval.

June 11th, 2010 / 9:45 a.m.

Renée Brassard Assistant professor, School of Social Work, Université Laval, As an Individual

Good morning, my name is Renée Brassard. I teach at the School of Social Work, but I am a criminologist by training.

Today my comments will be quite brief, because some of the points I intended to address have already been made by the Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador. I have jotted down a few comments and will limit myself to those. I have also tabled a summary of recommendations with the committee and you will see what I had in mind in so doing.

It is a well-known fact that violence against Aboriginal women in both Canada and Quebec is one of the direct consequences of colonialism and a history punctuated by government policies that have resulted in cultural erosion, the ongoing breakdown of family and other relationships, and poverty and underdevelopment which persists to this day.

I would like to draw the attention of committee members to the fact that, over the last two decades, several Canadian commissions of inquiry, expert reports and studies have all reiterated the fact that Aboriginal women constitute the segment of the population most affected by violence in Canada. It is also acknowledged that violence against Aboriginal women is an endemic problem. So, this is not something that is receding. Quite the contrary, it is a persistent problem which is growing worse.

That violence can take several different forms, as you so aptly pointed out, Madam Chair. The forms of violence faced by Aboriginal women are many: physical, sexual, psychological, systemic, institutional, legislative—as we see at present with the discussions on Bill C-3—communal, and also spiritual. By “communal” violence, I mean abuse of authority against Aboriginal women in communities all across Canada, whereas spiritual violence refers to the loss of traditional values and the destruction of individual cultural or religious beliefs.

The current state of knowledge regarding violence against Aboriginal women in Canada is such that we now know that different factors that are still in play conspire to keep Aboriginal women in Canada in these sad circumstances and allow the violence that afflicts them to be perpetuated. What I wanted to specifically address are the main factors which encourage or allow the violent situations facing Aboriginal women in Canada to occur and recur. Of these factors, I would like to mention these in particular: a lack of political will at the federal, provincial and local levels; the lack of autonomy of Aboriginal communities in terms of directing their own development; a system of economic and legislative dependency which keeps the Aboriginal communities in a state of underdevelopment and gives rise to social inequality and multiple forms of discrimination; limited access to power by Aboriginal women; the presence—obviously—of a vicious cycle of violence because of the relational proximity within the communities, complete silence on this issue and an attitude of resignation in relation to the violence; and, finally, inadequate social responses, which have been recognized over and over again in a variety of reports as being ineffective and culturally inappropriate.

When I refer to social responses to violence against Aboriginal women, I am obviously referring to piecemeal interventions, a lack of resources for Aboriginal men—we tend to prefer incarcerating Aboriginal men, rather than helping them to heal and be rehabilitated—and, Madam Chair, the criminalization and overrepresentation of Aboriginals in our prison institutions. I'm sure you also know that Canada is one of the countries that jails more Aboriginal people than any other country in the world, compared to societies such as Australia, New Zealand and the United States.

If we want to stop violence against Aboriginal women in Canada, it is necessary to acknowledge the valuable potential solutions and recommendations that can be found in the major studies carried out in Canada in the last two decades, and which are underused even now. The report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal People, which does suggest potential solutions, should also be revisited.

Furthermore, I think it is important to point out that this work, which was often carried out under the auspices of several Aboriginal organizations in Canada, has the merit of having given a voice to many Aboriginal women, as well as many different Aboriginal groups in Canada with respect to violence against women, children, men and a whole people. As a means of guiding the committee's work, I have gathered together here a number of recommendations which warrant your attention.

In closing, in light of these facts, we urge the House of Commons Standing Committee on the Status of Women to take full advantage of whatever flexibility it has to ensure that these recommendations are actually implemented, in order to foster the well-being of women, men and all Aboriginal communities in Canada.

Thank you.

9:50 a.m.


The Chair Liberal Hedy Fry

Merci, madame.

From Quebec Native Women Incorporated, we have with us Mélanie Denis-Damée. Can you begin, please? This also says “Council for Young Women”, and I am pleased to see a young woman here.

9:50 a.m.

Mélanie Denis-Damée Provincial Representative Substitute Representative, Council for young women, Quebec Native Women Inc.

My name is Mélanie Denis-Damée and I am the alternate provincial representative. I took some notes as the previous witnesses were speaking. In my community, violence against young mothers and suicides connected to the violence are very prevalent issues.

I am a little nervous.

9:50 a.m.


Carol Hughes NDP Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

Even if some of these things may already have been said, it's a good idea to say them again.

9:50 a.m.

Provincial Representative Substitute Representative, Council for young women, Quebec Native Women Inc.

Mélanie Denis-Damée

I have seen for myself that violence against young mothers, suicide and domestic violence are very prevalent problems in the communities. Women who have experienced domestic violence are often afraid to make a complaint against their assailant. They have no choice but to return to the family home, because there is a lack of housing in the community. That is also the case in urban environments. Women feel powerless to deal with the justice system. It means making a complaint against the individuals who have abused you, but women are afraid to testify against them, because of a lack of self-confidence and low self-esteem. As for the children, they are also abused following an episode of domestic violence.

I agree with the comments made by the two previous witnesses. It is a very good idea for women to denounce violence and testify before a court of law. However, often they are illiterate and do not speak French as well as their own language. I know some people who do not understand French very well. Women need to have access to an interpreter who could help them understand what is being said and assist them throughout the process of lodging a complaint before the court.

Furthermore, there is a need to continue to raise awareness with respect to suicide and to support the children following an episode of domestic violence. I know that it isn't easy. I know that because I went through it myself. So, I can speak based on my own experience. My children witnessed this, and it was traumatic for them. The scars remain, even today.

Thank you.

9:55 a.m.


The Chair Liberal Hedy Fry

Merci, Mélanie.

Now we have, from the Council of the Huron-Wendat Nation, Ann Desnoyers and Mr. Guy Duchesneau, who are both social workers.

You will decide how you divide up your speaking, but I will give you a two-minute sign when I think you're getting close to your time limit.

9:55 a.m.

Guy Duchesneau Social Services Coordinator, Health, Leisure and Social Services Department, Huron-Wendat First Nation Council

Thank you, Madam Chair. On behalf of the Huron-Wendat First National Council, I would like to express our thanks for this opportunity to present our views. I would like to describe the context. Our community is located approximately 15 kilometres from Quebec City. The Huron Nation has a population of about 3,000. Of that number, 1,300 live on the reserve and 1,700 live off-reserve.

The Health and Social Services Branch manages a health centre which provides services comparable to those available at CLSCs or CSSSs in the area. Our centre is located in the area that falls within the jurisdiction of the Health and Social Services Agency in the National Capital, and specifically the North-Quebec CSSS.

Since its inception in 1989, the health centre has maintained close ties with all agencies in the area and participates in the work of a variety of issue tables dealing with violence against women and elder abuse.

I would like to ask Ms. Desnoyers to continue the presentation and talk about our field work. We do a great deal of it. Without disagreeing with what has been said previously, I think there are different realities in each of our communities, including in our own. We do a lot of work on the ground.

Earlier, it was mentioned, with respect to the budgets we receive through the Department of Indian Affairs, that they are relatively small and have not been adjusted over the years. I believe the budget for family violence has not changed in 10 years, which means that we cannot increase our own resources. We have one resource person two days a week, at the most, who is able to provide services. And that does not include the prevention work and direct responses that are needed within the community to combat violence against women and violence in general.

I would now like to ask my colleague, Ms. Desnoyers, to talk about our work in the field.

10 a.m.

Ann Desnoyers Social Worker, Health, Leisure and Social Services Department, Huron-Wendat First Nation Council

Good morning, everyone. As Mr. Duchesneau mentioned, I will be focusing on more practical matters because, as psychosocial workers, much of what we do is done in the field.

In terms of statistics for our community, I was able to speak to the acting director of the police department, who confirmed that there are currently 20 police files dealing with complaints regarding incidents of violence, assault and domestic violence that occurred in 2009. Of that number, 15 files have now been forwarded to the Crown prosecutor. As far as the acting director knew, given the fact that all the numbers have not yet been compiled, there are at least three cases where the individual was convicted. Of all the files dealing with violence, we currently have two cases of sexual assault that have been referred to the court for prosecution.

Of course, we are aware that many victims do not dare bring a complaint because of the rigidity of the criminal system and because they are afraid of reprisals from community members. This is a subject which is still taboo in our community, and in many Aboriginal communities across Quebec.

At present, the same forms of violence we are all familiar with are present in our community of Wendake. However, over the years, psychosocial workers have tended to focus more on psychological violence, which we believe to be far more subtle, even though it has the same impact as physical violence.

When working with people in the communities and in the workplace, we have focused on negligence, manipulation and denigration. Those are all aspects of this form of violence. In our practice, we have observed that violence often occurs in emotional and important relationships. That is the case for relationships involving couples, young people or between parents and children, but also where there are emotional dependencies in the relationship or when one of the two spouses has certain personality traits. For example, we talk about “perverse narcissism” when there is a need to control and dominate the other person. That is something we observe most often in our social services practice.

In order to remedy that, we have developed our own response strategies. It's always nice to be able to talk about what works in our community. On the basis of our observations, we updated the domestic violence response protocol in 2009. This is a partnership between the Wendake police service and ourselves, as psychosocial workers. I have appended the protocol to the documents you were provided. When there are complaints to police, officers attend at the individual's premises. After responding, they will ask the victim to sign a consent form so that we can be given the information and provide follow-up and support. These are services that are currently provided at our health centre. And we are talking about all the victims here—both men and women. We do not neglect the men in this process.

Unfortunately, all victims do not agree to sign that consent form. So, we developed an information kit for victims that police have with them. The kit contains a list of addresses relating to specific resources that are part of the Quebec system and with whom we deal, including community safe houses. We also have a number of brochures and all the necessary material to ensure that the victim is not left without resources.

We have provided and continue to provide training to police officers, particularly with respect to the victim's needs. The attitude of our police officers is not always appropriate. So, we offer to provide training which deals, in particularly, with responding to the situations based on the cultural context. We present the appropriate approach for responding to incidents of domestic violence, and address both the legal process and especially the question of confidentiality. In order to keep the lines of communication open with our victims and our people, there is a need to put a lot of focus on confidentiality.

The goal is obviously to foster greater understanding among police officers of the needs of victims, and especially, the appropriate attitude to take. We also looked at the entire police trajectory when domestic violence complaints are lodged, with a view to ensuring well-coordinated interventions between ourselves and the police.

A positive result of the adoption of this new protocol in November of 2009 is that two victims came to us for help, and we were able to provide psychosocial support. That is beneficial from our standpoint and we are proud to be able to rely on this new protocol.

Every year, we also draw attention to the Week Without Violence. We develop tools year after year. As I said earlier, we focus much more on more subtle types of violence, such as psychological violence. This year, we produced a poster that I have and could provide you with later. The theme was “Let's remember that all violence, even when there are no scars, leaves a mark”. We also had pencils produced which we distributed to homes in our community, to raise people's awareness.

Psychosocial workers also sit on several different issue tables, including one entitled: “Elder abuse, negligence and violence”. These are people who live in the area served by the Jacques-Cartier CLSC. There are 10 partners, including police officers and a variety of stakeholders. They work together to organize prevention-related activities, particularly aimed at seniors, and training as well.

As I said earlier, we have signed a number of cooperation agreements, including with safe houses. In the Jacques-Cartier area in the Quebec-Nord district, there are also specific resources for men, including Autonhommie and G.A.P.I., which offer individual or group sessions to men with violent or aggressive behaviour. We don't leave them in a corner by themselves. We provide service.

However, when it comes to eliminating violence, the role of the federal government, as we see it, should be to focus more on prevention and support prevention-related activities. That is a key concern for organizations. These initiatives must be supported. There must also be recurring funding. We know that, where domestic violence is concerned, connections are very important. If staff turnover results in ongoing imbalance, we ourselves and our organization lose credibility. That is why it is important to provide recurring funding.

There is also a need to dedicate resources to promotion, including the promotion of healthy communication and healthy relationships, in order to put an end to emotional dependency. Another issue is management of certain personality traits which can be connected to violent or manipulative behaviours.

Those are the comments we wanted to make this morning. Thank you very much.

10:05 a.m.


The Chair Liberal Hedy Fry

Merci, madame Desnoyers.

I'm now going to ask the committee members, starting with Madame Hughes, to introduce themselves and tell you a little bit about where they come from and who they are. Then we can get into questions and answers--or into discussion more than questions and answers.

Carol, please go ahead.

10:05 a.m.


Carol Hughes NDP Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

Good morning.

I am the member of Parliament for Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, in Northern Ontario. There are 17 Aboriginal communities in my region. I was a union representative with the Canadian Labour Congress, but I have been on leave since being elected. When I was employed by that organization, I focused a great deal on certain issues. Before that, I worked for Probation and Parole Services. For a while, I also worked with young offenders. I held those jobs for approximately 13 years. Your comments are a very good fit with the questions I would like to ask.

10:05 a.m.


Lois Brown Conservative Newmarket—Aurora, ON

Good morning. Thank you very much for being here.

My name is Lois Brown. I am the member of Parliament for Newmarket—Aurora, which is a riding about 30 kilometres north of Toronto, and I'm a Conservative member of Parliament.

10:05 a.m.

Laura Munn-Rivard Committee Researcher

I am Laura Munn-Rivard. I'm a research assistant.

10:05 a.m.

Julie Cool Committee Researcher

I'm Julie Cool. I'm the analyst on the Standing Committee on the Status of Women.

10:05 a.m.


The Chair Liberal Hedy Fry

I'm Hedy Fry. I'm the member of Parliament for Vancouver Centre and I was the secretary of state for status of women and multiculturalism for about six years under the Chrétien government, so I am a Liberal, obviously.

10:05 a.m.

Isabelle Dumas Procedural Clerk

My name is Isabelle Dumas and I am the clerk of the committee.

10:05 a.m.


Nicole Demers Bloc Laval, QC

My name is Nicole Demers, I am the member of Parliament for Laval, and I am here to learn.

10:10 a.m.


Roger Pomerleau Bloc Drummond, QC

My name is Roger Pomerleau, and I am the member of Parliament for the riding of Drummond. There is no Aboriginal community in my riding, except for some Abenakis who are not far away—the Odanak and Wolinak communities. We see them occasionally, as we participate in many of the same activities.

However, I have witnessed violence, at least some forms of it. I often go to Montreal because my mother lives there. And there are more and more Inuit who feel completely isolated there. I often see that and I think it's tragic. They can hardly speak French or English. They have no resources and are reduced to begging. They can't express themselves or express what they're feeling. That's what I find most afflicting about this situation.

10:10 a.m.


The Chair Liberal Hedy Fry

Now, who would like to start with a question?


10:10 a.m.


Lois Brown Conservative Newmarket—Aurora, ON

Thank you, Madam Chair.

Prior to entering politics, I was vice-president of a company on disability management that I co-founded some years back. Most of the people we worked with were people who were injured on the job. Our job was to get them safely back into work. So we worked with the medical community, and we worked with ergonomists to assess the kind of job they might be able to undertake to successfully get them back into their place of employment.

The best strategy for injury management is no injury. Each of you has talked this morning in some way about prevention, and I think, Ms. Desnoyers, you specifically used the word “prevention”. I believe that's the best way to address the issue of violence against aboriginal women. I wonder if we can explore this a little bit and talk about how we find the prevention measures.

Ms. Archambault, you spoke specifically about leadership skills and developing leadership skills for women. I guess my question would be about what leadership skills we need to help aboriginal women develop. What are they looking to develop? Where do we see them using those skills? Because it doesn't matter what sector of society you come from, people are disadvantaged if they don't have the skills to assert themselves. That might be in a professional way, but it doesn't have to be in a profession as such; it might be just the competency that they need to develop in an area.

What are aboriginal women looking for? And how can we help them get there so that the leadership skills are evident and they develop the self-esteem? That's another phrase that was used by several of you.

Madame Denis-Damée, you spoke about having self-esteem. I wonder if we can explore that.

Ms. Archambault, could you start?

10:10 a.m.

Assembly of the First Nations of Quebec and Labrador

Grand Chief Anne Archambault

Sure, with pleasure.

If you don't mind, I would like to comment in French.

You raised an interesting question. In terms of prevention, we are seeking ways to ensure that First Nations people sustain fewer injuries and make less use of the health care system. That requires resources. Those resources are mentioned in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. According to the Declaration, we should be establishing our own institutions.

By developing our own institutions, we can prepare our people, educate and train them, so that they are ready when they move into the workplace. Personally, I support the CSSPNQL. Dental care is a good example. They told us that Indian people would be able to have their teeth fixed, but it's not being done and that is causing them problems. They have poor digestion and end up using the health care system. They use the Quebec health care system, when they can access it, of course. So, ultimately, what we need are our own institutions, so we can protect these people.

Does that answer your question?

10:15 a.m.


Lois Brown Conservative Newmarket—Aurora, ON

Well, it does, partly, and I asked this question yesterday of some of our witnesses. I asked them about education and how we keep young people in school in order to get the education they require, so that you do have people from the aboriginal community coming back to the aboriginal community to provide dental hygiene or to provide dental services.

When I look at budget 2010, I see that the government put in $285 million for health services and $200 million over two years to help develop leadership skills. Are we looking at developing young people from the aboriginal communities who are going to become the leaders in their own communities with these skills? Is that going to be helpful in the long run to reduce violence against aboriginal women in particular, because they are developing their self-esteem and they are taking responsibility in new areas of professionalism and new areas of contribution to their community?

Are there any other comments?

10:15 a.m.


The Chair Liberal Hedy Fry

Is there anyone else who wishes to comment?

Madame Brassard.