top of page
BFBT logo.png

Breaking Free Breaking Through

Breaking Free, Breaking Through is an arts-based research project to examine violence against Aboriginal women.

A joint project between the Ontario Native Women's Association (ONWA) and the Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres (OFIFC).

Breaking Free Breaking Through

Breaking Free, Breaking Through (Extended)

Apple Wagon Films
Breaking Free, Breaking Through (Extended)
Breaking Free, Breaking Through (Extended)

Breaking Free, Breaking Through (Extended)

Play Video
ONWA Press Release -

ONWA Press Release -

Play Video

Breaking Free, Breaking Through

REPORT (2015)

breaking-free-breaking-through-report CO

An arts-based research project to examine violence against Indigenous women.

2015 Report

Indigenous women, in five communities across Ontario, were guided by an expressive arts therapist. Because Indigenous women come from a variety of nations and cultural backgrounds, the diversity and particulars of each location meant that each community had to define which art form was relevant to spend time on. Women illustrated their life with pivotal moments, both positive and negative, in order to tell their life story. Upon completion of each painting and sharing the women felt strong and empowered. Above is a gallery of some of the artwork from the Breaking Free, Breaking Through Project.


I come from a painful past, full of loss and full of abuse.

At a young age I learned that I could only depend on myself.

As time went on I lost my voice, my pride, and almost my life.


It felt as if I were alone with no one to love and care for me.

The only thing I had were my drugs and my thoughts of suicide.


Why should I push on?

I’m a failure,

And my son would live a better life without me.

I don’t know exactly when it hit me,

But I realized I need to wake up.

I am the only one my son has left.


I cleaned up my life,

And since then I have done everything I could possibly do

To make my son’s life as happy and fulfilling as I possibly can.


- Survivor

I come from a battered and broken home.

Where I have always felt alone.

I entered into the world so cold.

Looking to be wanted: needed and loved.

I found heart break and pain.

I never gave up.

I knew one day down this long lonely road of life there is someone to love for me.

The road of loneliness and pain come to an end when I found a friend.


Now I know no matter how long the road of life is,

You always stand strong and hold your head high.

I am a proud Native woman.



- Survivor

Another activity of the Breaking Free, Breaking Through Project was poetry writing. The poems were to begin with the statement 'I come from..." This task required the women to reflect on their history and put it to word. Above is a collection of poetry by some of the Survivors.


Breaking Free

REPORT (1989)


A proposal for change to Indigenous Family Violence.

1989 Report
bottom of page