Island police service targets domestic violence

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A First Nation police service on Manitoulin Island recently announced the creation of a unique new program geared toward reducing risk factors associated with domestic violence.

The UCCM Anishnaabe Police Service, headquartered on M’Chigeeng First Nation, announced the four-year Lighting the Fire Within project on July 17.

Funded through Women and Gender Equality Canada, the project is the first of its kind to be delivered by any police service in Canada.

It is designed to fill the gaps in services for both victims and perpetrators of domestic violence and to facilitate the creation of safer, stronger, and healthier First Nations communities through culturally sensitive and trauma-informed programming.

“One of our overriding missions is to provide effective and efficient policing while being culturally sensitive and looking at different ways that we can provide better services for the individuals, groups, and families that we work with,” said Daughness Migwans, social navigator with the UCCM Anishnaabe Police.


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Migwans has been involved with the development and creation of the LTFW project since its inception.

“When we looked at some of the occurrences in our community and some of the feedback we’ve received from our partners, there were some things that stood out,” she said. “One of them was that there weren’t really any services available that would work with the perpetrator of domestic or interpersonal violence.”

Migwans and her team noticed that police involvement with domestic violence cases typically occurs after an incident has already happened, and most services are geared towards the victims of violence.

The LTFW program will provide support to offenders through a pre-charge diversion program for individuals involved in non-criminal code domestic disputes.

“It’s not a criticism of the services in place,” she noted. “We want to keep the victims of domestic violence safe. But oftentimes, the perpetrators are left out of that healing process. They are given a punishment, but they are not necessarily learning anything about their behavior and why they do what they do.”

Migwans said the police service “determined that we have a significant number of calls that come in that don’t meet the threshold for mandatory charging on domestic violence cases. We want to begin to intervene earlier in that cycle.”

The program will also work to improve the police force’s capacity to respond to incidents effectively. Police officers will receive training that is focused on creating a trauma-informed, culturally sensitive approach to interacting with victims.


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“In the training program, we want to look at things like why you might get different reactions than you might expect from victims of domestic violence, and how to approach victims from an inter-generational perspective,” said Migwans.

To fulfill its final objective of developing and fostering a relationship of trust with police services, LTFW will include an interest-based program for youth in the community.

Through community development activities, like sports, the interest-based program will promote healthy relationships and mutual respect.

LTFW will act as a compliment to the police service’s already successful Social Navigator Program, which is now a permanent program within the organization and recognized throughout all of Ontario.

The UCCM Anishnaabe Police Service is currently recruiting a new employee to lead the initiative and to work with an external evaluator to assess the success of the project.

The LTFW Coordinator will assist the police service in meeting the project objectives identified in the project implementation plan.

The police service is also looking to put together an advisory committee made up of industry professionals and Indigenous women with lived experience of domestic violence.

The advisory committee will provide feedback regarding the development of the program objectives which are created to meet the project’s goals.

Anyone interested in learning more about the program can contact the UCCM Anishnaabe Police Service at 705-377-7135.

Sudbury Star is part of the Local Journalism Initiative and reporters are funded by the Governmennt of Canada to produce civic journalism for underserved communities. Learn more about the initiative