NWAC Encourages Indigenous Women’s Leadership in Disaster Risk Reduction as BC Wildfires Continue

July 19, 2017 (Ottawa, ON) – The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) is mindful of the great risk to the safety of Indigenous women, girls, transgender, and Two-Spirit people as wildfires continue to encroach on populated areas of British Columbia. In addition to great concern for the safety of communities at risk of fire and those currently under evacuation, NWAC recognizes the hardships facing those returning to their homes and those who have lost theirs.

“Hundreds, if not thousands, of Indigenous women and girls’ lives will be affected by this,” commented NWAC President Francyne D. Joe. “Natural disasters are more likely to kill women than men and this disparity is amplified by socio-economic status. Statistically, this means that First Nation women on-reserve are in the most danger.”

President Joe represented the voice of First Nations and Métis women at the Marrakech Climate Change Conference in November of 2016 and NWAC continues to participate in the processes of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). As recognized by the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, Indigenous women hold traditional ecological knowledge that is vital to the success of disaster preparedness efforts.

“As global temperatures rise, we can expect that more fires will threaten the security of our people,” continued Joe. “Women are most often the ones caring for elderly persons and children and, largely for this reason, are the last to evacuate when natural disasters strike.”

“This nation cannot afford to omit Indigenous women from participation in efforts to address climate change. Indigenous women’s strong capabilities, intimate knowledge of their communities’ needs, and close connection to the land make them ideal candidates to guide and implement emergency measures that protect their homes, their economies, and lives,” said Joe. “I encourage every level of government and every community to champion Indigenous women’s unique perspectives and support our leadership in this area.”

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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

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NWAC Identifies Key Priorities for Supporting Indigenous Women and Girls at Council of Federation

July 19, 2017 (Edmonton, AB) – Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) President Francyne D. Joe addressed the Council of Federation (COF) on Monday regarding the importance of including  NWAC in all Nation-to-Nation discussions, the work of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (National Inquiry) in the scope of improving the socio-economic status of Indigenous women, and the need for a community-based prevention model to drive the child welfare system in all regions.

Hosted by Premier Rachel Notley, the Council of Federation includes all 13 provincial and territorial premiers and meets bi-annually and usually includes five National Indigenous Organizations (NIOs) in the summer meeting.

President Joe recommended that provinces and territories engage and support Indigenous women and the organizations advocating for them, using the support that Kathleen Wynne has provided to the Ontario Native Women’s Association as an example.  “The creation of permanent bilateral mechanisms between the Office of the Prime Minister and 3 of the NIOs recognizes racial discrimination as distinct but does not include a gendered lens,” said Joe.  “The marginalization of Indigenous women from the national discourse can be remedied on a provincial and territorial level through mindful action such as supporting our Provincial and Territorial Membership Associations (PMTAs); we’ve now offered to facilitate the forging of these alliances.”

NWAC identified the need to engage First Nations and Metis women on the grassroots level in order to better understand their distinct priorities and generate strong outcome measurements for the socio-economic empowerment of Indigenous women.  “Women, girls, transgender, and Two-Spirit Indigenous people need to be free from the disproportionate threat of violence in order to achieve equality,” stated Joe.  “This is one of the ways in which the recommendations of the National Inquiry will support socio-economic advancement.”

Urging action on the dire crisis within the child welfare system, Joe provided the following message during a post-meeting press conference on Monday.   “We need to support Cindy Blackstock and Jordan’s Principle. We do hope to have more support from the Premiers at some point so we can ensure that this government follows through [on delivering] equity for our children.”

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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

 

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Francyne D. Joe Receives 3-Year Mandate from NWAC Annual General Assembly

July 17, 2017 (Edmonton, AB) – The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) would like to thank Ministers, Senators, Elders, Youth, delegates, and observers for supporting NWAC at its the 43rd Annual General Assembly (AGA).  The event, held on Treaty 6 territory in Edmonton, Alberta from July 15th to 16th, 2017, resulted in the election of Francyne D. Joe as President.

Over 120 attendees were welcomed by Alberta’s Minister of Indigenous Relations, the Honourable Richard Feehan, who recognized Indigenous women’s exclusion from the Nation-to-Nation relationship and stressed the need for Indigenous women’s expert voices in leadership.

NWAC Western Elder Roberta Moses, NWAC President Francyne D. Joe, and former NWAC National Youth Rep Nikki Fraser all hail from British Columbia.

Keynote speaker and Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) Carolyn Bennett reiterated her support of the implementation of the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and pledged to work alongside NWAC in developing measurable outcomes for the successful empowerment of Indigenous women and girls, identifying the need for services for Indigenous people to be delivered by Indigenous people as a key element in that work.

INAC Minister Bennett presented on the Saturday.

Two former NWAC Presidents, Commissioner Michèle Audette and Dr. Jeannette Corbiere Lavell, enlightened attendees with updates from the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (National Inquiry) and an appeal to support the Senate’s proposed amendments to Bill S-3 known as 6(1)(a) all the way, respectively.

Chair of the Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples, Senator Lillian Dyck, gave an update on Bill S-3 and the removal of sex-based discrimination in the Indian Act and outlined her reasons for drafting Bill S-215: An Act to amend the Criminal Code (sentencing for violent offenses against Aboriginal women).

One of the most vocal supporters of addressing the effect of racial and sex-based discrimination through law and policy in the House of Commons, Senator Kim Pate, drew strong parallels between the root causes of the over-incarceration of Indigenous women and those contributing to the disappearances and murders of Indigenous women and girls.  For immediate action, she called on communities to claim responsibility for rehabilitating or sponsoring women in their own communities.

Senator Kim Pate provided context for pressing issues concerning Indigenous women and girls on the Sunday.

“Thank you to everyone involved in this year’s AGA for sharing your time with us in order to help build a better future for the next generation of Indigenous women,” said Joe.  “Being joined by so many powerful people reassures me that recognition of the need for the voices of those with the lived experiences of Indigenous women to shape the way that this nation addresses the issues that affect us is growing. “

NWAC delegates brought healing to the space with drumming and song.

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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
lgroulx@nwac.ca

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NWAC Joins the Call for a Restructure of the National Inquiry into MMIWG

July 11, 2017 (Ottawa, ON) – Following the resignation of Commissioner Marilyn Poitras yesterday, the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) is joining the call to restructure the current process of the National Public Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (National Inquiry) and concentrate on delivering a Families First model.  After lobbying for an Inquiry for more than a decade, NWAC is committed to the successes, outcomes, and legacy of a National Inquiry.

“This process has lost its focus on those who are impacted by the loss of loved ones and on honouring the lives of Indigenous women,” observed NWAC Interim President Francyne D. Joe.  “The departure of a Commissioner, immediately following the resignation of the Executive Director, is a clear indication that there are unresolved structural issues occurring at the highest levels. It’s time to give families the barrier-free process they deserve.”

Ten months into the National Inquiry’s timeline, the Commissioners must now accept the responsibility of building a new model.   It is NWAC’s belief that the National Inquiry must be correct fundamental issues in its framework and assures families that this kind of course correction was successfully adopted by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

“The National Inquiry spent months getting advice from families and international human rights bodies and this is not reflected in its structure,” said Joe.  “We need to see the implementation of a trauma-informed process with a human rights-based approach.  There has to be a direct departure from the legalistic approach we’ve seen in the allocation of funds and multiple bureaucratic barriers to the participation of families, such as the inadequate availability of support and resources available to those wishing to participate and the needlessly intense vetting process.”

NWAC supports the implementation of the recommendations of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the report of the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) in all the procedures of this Inquiry, particularly creating mechanisms to order independent reviews of individual cases where there are outstanding concerns about the adequacy of police investigations.

“Trust from families is the only meaningful source of credibility and confidence in the National Inquiry,” concluded Joe. “The consequences of this cannot be the burden of grieving families.”

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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
lgroulx@nwac.ca

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NWAC Welcomes Announcement of More Hearings to be Held by the National Inquiry into MMIWG

July 6, 2017 (Ottawa, ON) – The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) is continuing its work in seeking accountability from the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (National Inquiry) as they announce a preliminary schedule of hearings.  Chief Commissioner Buller’s comments at a press conference held today also included reassurances that their work is proceeding quickly, that they are confident in having material for their interim report in November, and that they will be requesting an extension of their timeline and the funds to support the additional work.

“Commissioner Buller’s informational statements today were needed but I feel that an opportunity was missed in addressing the departure of senior staff, including Michele Moreau,” offered Interim President Francyne D. Joe.  “The announcement of an Interim Executive Director and other details about who will replace Director Moreau would demonstrate to families and communities that they have planned and prepared for any resignations and are capable of moving quickly to continue momentum.  It would tell us that there is someone overseeing this strategy and executing the schedule families are depending on.”

Although NWAC has been informed by the Inquiry that they have received training to ensure that all aspects of the Inquiry are performed in a trauma-informed manner, NWAC encourages its full application when addressing the public.  This includes a comfort level when speaking about the LGTBQ2S+ community, sensitivity to the needs of families in relation to the Inquiry’s expediency in holding Community Hearings of the Truth Gathering Process (Community Hearings), and mindfulness of the impact of body language and tone on messages being delivered.

In a letter being sent to National Inquiry leadership today, NWAC formally requests a list of the regional organizations informing the Community Relations team as they draft specific cultural protocols for each area in which Community Hearings are held.  As outlined in the second of two Report Cards under Terms of Reference numbers 3, 7, and 10, NWAC believes that publically listing the organizations hosting, welcoming, advising the Inquiry, and providing family supports is necessary in order to ensure transparency and give other groups the opportunity to make additional recommendations.

“We will keep asking for what we feel honours the Families First model, including important information like which legal and human resources supports are available to families as they register,” finished Joe.  “We’d also like to see the organizational elements stabilize so that the National Inquiry may maintain and build on its existing institutional knowledge.”

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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
lgroulx@nwac.ca

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NWAC Calls for Strong Indigenous Leadership as Executive Director Resigns from Inquiry into MMIWG

July 1 (Ottawa, ON) – As its Executive Director plans her withdrawal from the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (National Inquiry), the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) maintains a vested interest in its success and continues to have numerous concerns as it reaches its tenth month of operation today. In a statement released via the National Inquiry last night, former Executive Director Michele Moreau’s departure for personal reasons was met with sadness by the National Inquiry.

Chantale Courcy, who had been functioning as Interim Executive Director before Moreau was hired, accepted a promotion within the Public Service Commission of Canada and officially resigned on June 12th, 2017. She was closely followed by staff member Tanya Kappo, whose association with the Inquiry had sent a positive message about the National Inquiry’s connection with grassroots movements and interest in hiring recognized Indigenous leaders.

“We want assurance that this setback will be dealt with quickly and that a First Nations, Inuit, or Métis woman or two-spirit person is appointed to the position of Executive Director. We need to see leadership that is already known to be strong within the Indigenous community,” stated NWAC Interim President Francyne D. Joe.

The fifth of such departures by staff since the National Inquiry’s launch on September 1st, 2016 is alarming but is not necessarily indicative of deeply problematic issues that can’t be remedied. “The Commissioners must come together to reassure the public that they remain committed to prioritizing the release of a solid timeline and fixing these operational issues once and for all,” commented Joe. As she has stated, a timeline must be released so that families of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) can start planning to tell their loved ones’ stories.

NWAC, who remains deeply invested in the success of the National Inquiry, has listed many of its concerns in its first two quarterly Report Cards, including a lack of transparency and communication from the Inquiry. In an update for families entitled “What’s next for the National Inquiry?”, dated June 19th, 2017, Chief Commissioner Marion Buller confirmed that the Commissioners would be asking for an extension.

Joe hopes to see a positive outcome despite many unsettling developments. “The Executive Director is the hub of operational functions. All of our concerns about adhering to the timeline before and after Community Hearings of the Truth Gathering Process were postponed for the summer are exasperated by the announcement of Moreau’s resignation. It is crucial that the National Inquiry regain operational stability as soon as possible in order to gain confidence from everyone who is invested in its success.”

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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
lgroulx@nwac.ca

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