MIRAMICHI (GNB) – Three First Nations communities in the Miramichi region now have access to community-based resources and services for victims of intimate partner violence with the establishment of an Aboriginal Domestic Violence Outreach Program.

“We are committed in our efforts to help put an end to intimate partner and gender-based violence,” said Justice and Public Safety Minister Denis Landry. “With the establishment of this program, aboriginal women and children living in Eel Ground, Esgenoôpetitj and Metepenagiag and surrounding area will now have access to these vital resources and services in their home communities.”

The commitment to establish the five-year pilot program was announced last October and was made possible by the federal Department of Justice’s Victims Fund, a five-year funding agreement to provide victims of crime in New Brunswick with increased access to services. The program is also receiving in-kind support from the Miramichi Emergency Shelter for Women.

“These services are essential in helping to end intimate partner violence in our province, but this is the first program of its kind that is based in First Nations communities,” said Service New Brunswick Minister Ed Doherty, who is also minister responsible for Aboriginal Affairs. “I applaud the community partners and all others who support this important pilot program.”

The Eel Ground First Nation has provided office space for the program, and an outreach co-ordinator will travel to Esgenoôpetitj and Metepenagiag frequently to meet with women in those communities who require support. The outreach co-ordinator will also assist aboriginal women living off First Nations. The program will offer services such as crisis intervention; risk assessment; safety planning; individual support; follow-up and referrals; sexual assault services; and the arrangement of safe meeting places.

“There is a need for direct and culturally-appropriate services for aboriginal women who are victims of intimate partner violence, and for these services to be accessible in their communities,” said George Ginnish, Chief at Eel Ground First Nation. “This pilot program will help eliminate the barriers faced by aboriginal women who need support.”

The program office is located at 40 Mic Mac Road at Eel Ground. Anyone seeking to access resources or services can call 506-627-4743. For outreach services for the region outside of regular business hours, contact the Miramichi Emergency Centre for Women at 506-622-8865. In the event of an emergency, call 911.