FAIRBANKS — Victim advocates, shelter managers and tribal coalition members met at the David Salmon Tribal Hall on Tuesday to discuss a strategy to improve the safety of women in Alaska and how to implement the Violence Against Women Act, federal legislation which was reauthorized in March.
The Unity Meeting on VAWA — which included representatives from the National Congress of American Indians, the Alaska Federation of Natives and domestic violence and sexual assault prevention organizations from across the state — was the first gathering of its kind at the annual AFN convention, said Tami Jerue of the Alaska Native Women’s Coalition.
“We have been trying to do something like this for ten years,” Jerue said. “I think it’s historical, us being here with the whole AFN and NCAI.”
Jerue said evaluating the challenges that organizations across the state are dealing with will help with advocacy efforts.
“We are not getting funded in the villages. (The State of Alaska) hears us, but they are not supporting us in a way that we need,” she said. “The other issue is that we’re not getting adequate funding for the village police officers and the advocates.”
Dr. Malia Villegas, the director of the NCAI Policy Research Center, said the NCAI’s role in the meeting is to help identify which issues are priorities for Alaska Native women. Those priorities can be taken into consideration in 2018 when VAWA is up for reauthorization
“NCAI wants to be part of the conversation about what VAWA looks like up here in Alaska, what the implementation process is and what some of the issues are that are unique to Alaska Native women,” Villegas said. “We want to be sure that we are representing and supporting their leadership on this front.”