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.
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.
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.
“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. “
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