Victims of sexual assault need services closer to home
AUNDECK OMNI KANING—Noojmowin Teg Health Centre is working towards bringing forensic testing for victims of sexual assault to Manitoulin.
“Currently, if someone is a victim of sexual assault on Manitoulin they are supported by the local police and escorted to Health Sciences North for a rape kit,” explained Noojmowin Teg Executive Director Pam Williamson. “I was speaking to someone recently from Whitefish River (First Nation) who noted someone from the community had to go to M’Chigeeng to report the incident and then to Sudbury for the forensic testing. This is a big gap and something needs to get done to bring these services to the Island.”
Ms. Williamson explained that the Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Committee, a subcommittee of the Manitoulin Addictions and Mental Health Partners, is the committee that is bringing this project forward.
“When they spoke to me about it I became very passionate—it is a service that we need to be able to offer here.”
When Noojmowin Teg and Mnaamodzawin expanded its facility in Aundeck Omni Kaning last year, a bathroom was built in the clinic area to meet requirements to serve sexual assault or physical violence patients in the future if funding became available.
“We have the facilities and the support from community organizations and the Island police services,” said Ms. Williamson. “We were turned down for funding our first round despite having so many partners endorsing the project, which was disappointing, but we haven’t given up.”
Ms. Williamson said that Noojmowin Teg has recently applied to the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care (MHLTC) through the Indigenous Interprofessional Primary Care Team, for enhanced services, including forensic testing.
“The Wikwemikong Tribal Police, UCCM Anishnaabe Police Services and OPP have supported this application as well as Manitoulin Family Resources, to name a few,” said Ms. Williamson. “The support for this service has been overwhelming. This service is needed here on Manitoulin and we hope that we are able to offer it in the near future.”