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New funding to help victims of violence, exploitation, Manitoba government says

WINNIPEG — The Manitoba government is committing $1.5 million in annual operating funding for an Indigenous-led safe space for women victimized by violence and sexual exploitation.

Families Minister Rochelle Squires says the money will help Velma’s House offer round-the-clock supports that include meals, a place to sleep, and connections to housing and employment.

Velma’s House opened in the spring of 2021 in Winnipeg and quickly outgrew its location, which could accommodate 10 people at a time.

Last fall, the federal government committed nearly $7 million, some of which was to help the group move to a new, larger building.

The National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls called for governments to fund Indigenous-centred and community-based health and wellness services.

Velma’s House is one of the only 24-7 safe spaces in Manitoba that supports sexually exploited women.

It is operated by Ka Ni Kanichihk, which means “those who lead” in Cree. 

“The folks who access Velma’s House face barriers most of us cannot imagine, in every facet of their lives,” executive director Yvonne Jordaan said in a news release Thursday.

“Velma’s House is the one place they can go where the doors are always open.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 16, 2023 

The Canadian Press