Definity Insurance Foundation announces $3.1 million gift to the Canadian Women’s Foundation’s Northern Strategy for gender equality, focused on Indigenous communities

Toronto – October 30, 2023 – Women, girls, and Two Spirit, trans, and non-binary people in northern communities face unique economic challenges – and spearhead unique but under-resourced initiatives to address them. Definity Insurance Foundation is announcing a transformative investment of $3.1 million in the Canadian Women’s Foundation’s Northern Strategy, guided by Indigenous women in the Yukon, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Nunavik, and Nunatsiavut.

Definity Insurance Foundation’s gift is the largest philanthropic donation the Canadian Women’s Foundation has ever received for gender equality efforts in northern provinces and territories.

Gendered economic barriers intensify in northern Indigenous communities. Racism, geographical challenges, and climate crises means that many Indigenous women and gender-diverse people lack access to basic safety and services. Legacies of colonialism, discrimination, and residential schools combine to erode their connectedness, belonging, sense of identity, and mental health.

First Nations, Métis, and Inuit women face some of the lowest employment rates and come up against barriers to higher education and better jobs (Statistics Canada, 2016). While women’s overall employment rate hit a record high in January, the rate for Indigenous women decreased and they face lower employment compared to Indigenous men (Statistics Canada, 2022). With rising costs of living in Canada, 48 per cent of Indigenous women say they cannot cover unexpected expenses of $500 (Statistics Canada, 2022). These realities make Indigenous women in the North more vulnerable to risks such as homelessness, gender-based violence, and relationship abuse (Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, 2014).

“Gender justice leaders in the North lead some of the most innovative programs by and for Indigenous women and girls,” says Paulette Senior, President and CEO of the Canadian Women’s Foundation. “They know the solutions to northern economic safety and community challenges. But many don’t get the philanthropic backing they need to achieve full impact.”

Definity Insurance Foundation’s investment in the Northern Strategy turns this tide and tackles root causes of gendered economic inequalities. By fostering entrepreneurship and self-employment initiatives, diverse women and Two Spirit, trans, and non-binary people will be better equipped to build employment opportunities, increase workforce participation and overcome economic challenges.

“Women are disproportionately affected by job loss, pandemic-related disruptions, gender-based violence, and precarity, and these issues are magnified in the North,” says Arti Freeman, President & CEO, Definity Insurance Foundation. “To rebuild the economy, we need to eliminate gender bias and address systemic barriers while centering the social and economic needs of women and gender diverse individuals. Our partnership with the Canadian Women’s Foundation will provide access to essential and transformative resources for diverse women, girls, Two Spirit, trans, and non-binary people in Canada’s northern communities. By supporting their self-determination and pursuit of entrepreneurial opportunities, we can collectively create sustainable change far into the future.”

Three grantee partners will be identified and funded directly by the Northern Strategy Women and Girls Advisory Committee. Three other grantees will be identified through an open call for proposals overseen by the committee. Each grantee will receive funding for up to five years to help them achieve economic security impacts to benefit First Nations, Métis, and Inuit women and gender-diverse people they serve.

About the Canadian Women’s Foundation: We are Canada’s public foundation for gender justice and equality. We advance this by growing support for grassroots feminist action, partnering with communities and organizations to improve conditions, and building diverse leadership and knowledge for sustainable change. Since 1991, our generous donors and supporters have contributed more than $250 million to fund over 3,200 life-transforming programs throughout Canada.

About Definity Insurance Foundation: The Definity Insurance Foundation is a national philanthropic organization that works with charitable partners across Canada to address barriers to good health, socio-economic opportunity, and climate-related challenges by supporting solutions that focus on the roots and impacts of inequality. Anchored by our values of community, justice, and integrity, we proactively seek partnerships built on relationships​​​. By collaborating with intermediaries and collectives, we advance community-led solutions that address systemic barriers, with a particular focus on those faced by Black, Indigenous, and other racialized communities. We listen to communities disproportionately impacted by barriers and energize collective power to move toward a more just and equitabl​e​​ society.

For more information and to schedule interviews, contact:

Meetu Madahar (she/her)
Brown & Cohen Communications & Public Affairs Inc.
Phone 416-484-1132 ext. 3 | Mobile 416-817-4668

Editor’s Note: When referring to the Canadian Women’s Foundation, please use the full name. Please do not abbreviate or use acronyms.