Leaders of National Aboriginal Organizations and Provincial and Territorial Representatives set date and start planning for a National Roundtable on Murdered and Missing Women

PRESS RELEASE- FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Membertou, NS – October 22, 2014 – Today leaders from National Aboriginal Organizations and Northwest Territories Premier Robert McLeod, along with Ministers and officials from Provinces and Territories met to prepare for a National Roundtable on murdered and missing Indigenous women.

This meeting was a tangible step forward on the Roundtable. All present agreed that the National Roundtable will take place in February 2015 to coincide with an upcoming meeting of the Aboriginal Affairs Working Group and recognized the urgency of this issue including the need to collectively move forward on solutions. The focal point of the roundtable is preventing and addressing violence including the most extreme cases that result in missing and murdered Indigenous women.

The Roundtable will bring together Indigenous leaders and representatives, Provincial and Territorial Ministers. Federal Ministers will formally be invited to the Roundtable.
This meeting builds on a commitment between Premiers and National Aboriginal leaders made in Charlottetown on August 27, 2014 to support convening a National Roundtable discussion with the federal government on the issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women.

Organizations represented in the meeting include: the Assembly of First Nations (AFN), Métis National Council, Congress of Aboriginal Peoples, Inuit Tapiriit Kantami, Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC), Les Femmes Michif Otipemisiwak / Women of the Métis Nation, and Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada.
“Creating safe, healthy and thriving communities is a priority for First Nations across Canada, and we are working to ensure concrete action to end violence against Indigenous women and girls,” said AFN Regional Chief Morley Googoo who participated in the National Aboriginal Women’s Roundtable (NAWS) this week as well as preparatory meetings for the National Roundtable. “Bringing all parties together to build on existing recommendations and to confirm action and implement solutions to address the root causes of why so many Indigenous women remain vulnerable is essential as we move forward.”

“NWAC is pleased that the issue of violence against Aboriginal women and girls is being recognized as an urgent matter that requires a collaborative approach involving the community, the provincial/territorial and federal governments. NWAC is committed to working towards the elimination of all forms of violence towards Aboriginal women and their girls”, said Native Women’s Association Vice-President Dr. Dawn Harvard.

“The Métis Nation is pleased with the progress made today by Aboriginal Leaders, Premier McLeod and provincial and territorial Ministers in moving forward in a formalized process which will lead to a national roundtable convened to address the critical issue of murdered and missing Aboriginal women and girls” stated President Clément Chartier of the Métis National Council.
President of Women of the Métis Nation, Melanie Omeniho, stated, “I am particularly pleased that this monumental step was taken on the final day of the NAWS IV gathering here in Membertou signifying a real and positive agreement by both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal leaders to take a pro-active approach, taking into account the decisions of the gathering which I believe will help guide the deliberations which will be undertaken by the proposed round table.”

Congress of Aboriginal Peoples National Chief Betty Ann Lavallée “We are committed to taking all action to support the safety of our women, children, men and boys. I commend the provinces and territories for standing with us and want to particularly thank Premier McLeod for his leadership. It is time for the federal government to join us and work together to prevent and end violence in all of its forms.”

Rebecca Kudloo, President of the Inuit Women’s Association of Canada, also representing at the meeting Terry Audla, President of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, said “The outcome of today’s meeting is a very positive development in working together to end violence against Inuit women, girls and children. Violence is at crisis levels in many of our communities, which lack basic essential services that are taken for granted in most of Canada. We look forward to working with the provinces and territories, and hope that our federal partners will join us as well.”

Terry Audla, President of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, added “Canada has to rise as one big community to tackle violence that is ruining so many lives and families and preventing us from building better future for our children across Inuit Nunangat. I thank and commend Pauktuutit for its dedicated work on these issues over the last 30 years. ”

Premier Robert McLeod, from the Northwest Territories chaired this initial planning meeting and stated “This was a very positive step and I am encouraged by the support of attending Ministers and Leaders. We all recognized the need to bring people together so we can focus on the action required and look forward to further engagement with National Aboriginal Organizations, and provincial, territorial, and federal Ministers.”

 

For more information, please contact:

Lynne Groulx
Executive Director
1 Nicholas Street, 9th Floor
Ottawa, ON K1N 7B7
Toll-free 1-800-461-4043
Tel: 613-722-3033 ext. 223
Email: lgroulx@nwac.ca

14.10.22 Joint Statement on National Roundtable

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NWAC Remembers Bertha Clark Jones, A Founding Leader

PRESS RELEASE – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

(October 22, 2014) (Ottawa, ON) – The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) is deeply saddened by the passing of Bertha Clark Jones on October 21, 2014. She was a remarkable Métis woman who advocated for the rights and equalities of Aboriginal Peoples, served Canada as a member of the Air Force, and was one of NWAC’s founders and first President.

Bertha Clark Jones grew up no stranger to difficulties and hardship. She was raised in northern Alberta in a large family during the Great Depression. There she learned the determination and her hard work ethic from her parents and grandparents that she would later apply to advocating for human rights.

During World War II she served in the Royal Canadian Air Force. Her experiences with the Canadian military led to an ongoing mission to advocate for fair treatment of Aboriginal veterans. From there it was an ongoing legacy of advancing human rights in Canada. To defend Aboriginal women, she co-founded Voice of Alberta Women (VANW) and helped steer it to represent both Status and non-Status Aboriginal women. Over time, VANW became the Native Women’s Association of Canada, and, thanks to Bertha Clark Jones, continues her legacy of advocacy and pursuit of equality for Aboriginal women in Canada. Bertha Clark Jones was recognized for her efforts to improve lives in 2007 by Indspire with a lifetime achievement award.

“She is an inspiration to all of us” NWAC President Michèle Taïna Audette said, “Bertha Clark Jones remains a model for empowered Aboriginal women, and her life is a testimony to the incredible changes we can achieve for society. Her absence is sorely missed, but we will work hard to honour her legacy of social justice.”

The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) is founded on the collective goal to enhance, promote, and foster the social, economic, cultural and political well-being of First Nations and Métis women within First Nation, Métis and Canadian societies. As a national organization representing Aboriginal women since 1974, NWAC’s mandate is to achieve equality for all Aboriginal women in Canada.

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Claudette Dumont-Smith, Executive Director 1 Nicholas Street, 9th Floor Ottawa, ON K1N 7B7
Toll free 1-800-461-4043
Tel.: 613-722-3033 x. 223
cdumontsmith@nwac.ca

12.10.23 NWAC Remembers Bertha Clarke Jones

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NWAC launches their report -Sexual Exploitation and Trafficking of Aboriginal Women and Girls: Literature Review and Key Informant Interviews

PRESS RELEASE – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

(October 16, 2014) (Ottawa, ON) – The Native Women’s Association of Canada’s (NWAC) has just released their comprehensive report on the trafficking of Aboriginal women and girls in Canada for sexual exploitation. The report is part of several reports that were funded by the Canadian Women’s Foundation, along with their National Task Force Report. To access all the reports, please go to: http://canadianwomen.org/reports/trafficking

NWAC’s report is solutions-oriented and provides many recommendations and practices to help prevent trafficking and help Aboriginal women and girls to exit situations of sexual exploitation. The report also helps shed light on the nature of Aboriginal women and girls’ vulnerabilities to trafficking, and explores the larger societal factors that contribute to their over-representation in sex trafficking in Canada. Service providers, government, and those who engage with and support trafficked Aboriginal women and girls will find the resource valuable for the insights, strategies, and recommendations.

The report contains a comprehensive literature review, key information interviews, and surveys. NWAC worked with women who were experiential survivors, service providers, officers of the law, and judicial officers to gather information and stories. The report covers root causes, recruitment, prevention, exit strategies, legal, justice, and policy measures, as well as exploring some current Canadian initiatives into trafficking from a perspective that recognizes the importance of addressing the needs of Aboriginal women and girls.

One of the key findings from the report are that Aboriginal women and girls are over-represented in trafficking; with some research going so far as to find Aboriginal women and girls as the majority of those being sex trafficked in Canada today. Key informants in NWAC’s interviews, the survey, and in the literature repeatedly identified the Indian Residential School impacts and intergenerational trauma, systemic poverty, and discrimination as major factors in contributing to increasing vulnerability of Aboriginal women and girls.

The report calls for more initiatives to ensure and promote educational access and success for Aboriginal women and girls as a key preventative measure; and that for Aboriginal women and girls exiting exploitative circumstances, they require non-judgmental attitudes, harm reductionist approaches, culturally-relevant programming, safe housing, long-term counselling, and education and training to make sustainable alternative healthy lifestyles. As a result of its findings and in recognition of the needs and well-being of trafficked Aboriginal women and girls, NWAC recommends decriminalizing women in prostitution and prosecuting pimps and johns.

“It is our hope that this report and the women’s stories within it will further show the need for public and Government attention, care and protection of trafficked Aboriginal women and girls in Canada,” said Michèle Audette, NWAC President. “We want more for our women and girls – we want a life filled with choices, peace and economic security and a world where our women are valued,” continued Audette.

The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) is founded on the collective goal to enhance, promote, and foster the social, economic, cultural and political well-being of First Nations and Métis women within First Nation, Métis and Canadian societies. As a national organization representing Aboriginal women since 1974, NWAC’s mandate is to achieve equality for all Aboriginal women in Canada.

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Claudette Dumont Smith, Executive Director
1-800-461-4043 or cdumontsmith@nwac.ca

14.09.15 NWAC Releases Human Trafficking Report

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October 4th Sisters In Spirit Vigils- A Movement for Social Change

PRESS RELEASE – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

PUBLIC STATEMENT

October 1, 2014 (Ottawa, ON) – The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) will be reading this Statement on October 4th 2014 as part of the Sisters In Spirit Vigil—A Movement for Social Change:

October 4th is a day when we honour the lives of missing and murdered Aboriginal women and girls and support families who have been tragically touched by the loss of a loved one to violence. More than 100 SIS Vigils are registered from coast-to coast-to coast for October 4th 2014. No other event in Canada brings so many Aboriginal communities and Canadian citizens together to specifically celebrate, honour and support Aboriginal women and girls.

First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples as well as many other concerned Canadians are rising up and embracing their own forms of expression and their own calls for action. An inquiry would be a crucial step in implementing a comprehensive and coordinated national action plan that is necessary to address the scale and severity of violence faced by Aboriginal women and girls. Together, we must demand action and secure commitments from all levels of government.

October 4th is dedicated to honouring the lives of missing and murdered Aboriginal women and girls and support families who have been tragically touched by the loss of a loved one to violence. Vigils take many forms: a rally, a candlelight vigil, a workshop, a moment of silence, a walk, or a gathering of people to share memories and a meal. Together, the October SIS vigils have become a movement for social change and a reminder that our sisters will not be forgotten.

In closing, we express our sincere thanks and gratitude to the families. Many are here today and we thank them for sharing their stories. You are the reason we continue to demand action. We are honoured to walk beside you on this journey!

This public Statement is a very powerful way for Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal leadership to signal their support and commitment to the issue of missing and murdered Aboriginal women and girls. “NWAC invites all Aboriginal organizations across Canada to lend their support to this public Statement,” said President Michele Audette, adding that “now is the time to come together and demand action. When we show we are a united front, we hope all levels of government will listen.”

The 2014 public Statement specifically calls for “all levels of government to work with Aboriginal women and representative organizations.” The NWAC continues to call for a National Public Inquiry and a comprehensive national action plan to address violence against Aboriginal women and girls. NWAC thanks all their long-standing SIS Vigil partners for once again supporting NWAC’s work.

We look forward to your continued involvement and participation.

The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) is founded on the collective goal to enhance, promote, and foster the social, economic, cultural and political well-being of First Nations and Métis women within First Nation, Métis and Canadian societies. As a national organization representing Aboriginal women since 1974, NWAC’s mandate is to achieve equality for all Aboriginal women in Canada.

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For additional information, please contact:

Claudette Dumont-Smith, Executive Director cdumontsmith@nwac.ca
Native Women’s Association of Canada
1 Nicholas Street, 9th Floor
Ottawa, ON K1N 7B7
Tel.: 613-722-3033
Toll Free: 1-800-461-4043

14.10.01 Sisters in Spirit Vigils

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