NWAC and Canadian Association Of Police Chiefs Announce Collaboration – Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women

JOINT STATEMENT

(Ottawa, ON) – The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police (CACP) and the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) are pleased to make the following statement:

The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police (CACP) and Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) met today resulting in a very constructive and cordial meeting. Both organizations are deeply concerned about the issue of missing and murdered Aboriginal women. We have agreed to participate in partnership and to be constructive voices in developing solutions on this critical issue. Police leaders are committed to concrete action regardless of what process is determined.

The Native Women’s Association of Canada 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.

The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police was established in 1905 and represents approximately 1,000 police leaders from across Canada. The Association is dedicated to the support and promotion of efficient law enforcement and to the protection and security of the people of Canada. Through its member police chiefs and other senior police executives, the CACP represents in excess of 90% of the police community in Canada which include federal, First Nations, provincial, regional and municipal, transportation and military police leaders.

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For further information, please contact:

Claudette Dumont-Smith, Executive Director
Native Women’s Association of Canada
Toll free 1-800-461-4043
Tel.: 613-722-3033
cdumontsmith@nwac.ca

Timothy M. Smith
Government Relations and Strategic Communications
Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police
Mobile: 613-601-0692
timsmith2000@rogers.com

14.09.30 NWAC and Canadian Association of Police Chiefs Annouce Collaboration

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Ending Violence Against Aboriginal Women And Girls Must Be A Priority For Canadians in Election Year

PRESS RELEASE- FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

(29 September 2014) OTTAWA – With federal political parties preparing for an election year, Amnesty International and the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) are calling on Canadians to help make ending violence against Aboriginal women and girls a priority for all politicians. Our organizations will be working with women’s organizations and other allies across Canada to ensure that all parties make tangible commitments to end violence against Indigenous women and girls in the upcoming election.

Recently released RCMP statistics report the murder of 1017 Aboriginal women and girls between 1980 and 2012, with more than 100 others remaining missing under suspicious circumstances or for unknown reasons.

NWAC President Michèle Audette told a press conference on Parliament Hill today. “Each woman was somebody. She was also somebody’s sister, daughter, mother, or friend and every one of them deserved to be safe from violence. They deserve more from our Government than excuses and a patchwork of underfunded and inadequate programs and services. We need solutions and actions that will make a difference in women’s lives.”

Alex Neve, Secretary-General of Amnesty International Canada said, “Instead of committing to the kind of comprehensive, concerted response that is so urgently needed, successive governments have rolled out the same piecemeal approach that has failed to provide Aboriginal women and girls the protection they need. Momentum for meaningful action is building across Canadians but we need more Canadians to speak out.”

Ten years ago, Amnesty International published its major research report, Stolen Sisters: Discrimination and Violence against Indigenous women in Canada. The report followed a nation-wide campaign by NWAC to focus attention on the severe threats facing Aboriginal women and girls. At the time, all parties in the House of Commons publicly acknowledged the need for action.

A full decade later, however, government response continues to fall short of what is required by the extreme scale and severity of this violence. Recommendations by Indigenous women’s organizations—including a widely supported call for an independent national public inquiry—continue to be ignored.

On October 4th, vigils will be held in scores of communities across Canada and across the globe to honour the lives of Aboriginal women and girls lost to violence. The vigils are being coordinated by NWAC, and organized by community groups and affected families, with the support of a wide range of human rights, social justice, and faith organizations.

Amnesty International and NWAC are urging the federal government to work with Aboriginal organizations to implement a comprehensive national action plan, in keeping with Canada’s international human rights obligations, and for this plan to be informed an independent national public inquiry to finally get at the root causes.

Beatrice Vaugrante, Director-General of Amnistie International Canada Francophone said, “International human rights standards require governments to do everything in their power to stop violence against women. In this case, the standard of action already identified by international human rights mechanisms is for Canada to hold an independent public inquiry and implement a systematic, coordinated national action plan.”

Michèle Audette said, “We don’t want to have to come to Parliament year after year, mourning the deaths of hundreds more of our women and girls. We stand united with other Canadians demanding real action now.”

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.

Amnesty International is a global movement of over 3 million people in more than 150 countries working together to protect and promote human rights. Our vision is of a world in which all governments respect and uphold the rights enshrined in international human rights instruments such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Convention to Eliminate All Forms of Discrimination against Women, and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
For more information please call:

Elizabeth Berton-Hunter, Media Relations Amnesty
International Canada
416-363-9933 ext 332
bberton-hunter@amnesty.ca

Claudette Dumont-Smith, Executive Director
Native Women’s Association of Canada
613-722-3033
cdumontsmith@nwac.ca

14.09.29 Amnesty International and NWAC Joint Statement on Ending Violence

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Outcome Document Adopted By All United Nations Member States, Except Canada

PRESS RELEASE – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

September 24, 2014 (Ottawa, ON) – The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) has been participating in the first World Conference on Indigenous Peoples (WCIP), which is happening at the United Nations in New York City this week. NWAC is pleased that all member states adopted the Outcome Document, but is disappointed in the position taken by Canada.

Indigenous Peoples have gathered from around the globe in an attempt to advance their rights as Indigenous Peoples, which includes the implementation of the principles and objectives of the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). Participants at the World Conference officially adopted an action-oriented “Outcome Document” Monday, which deals specifically with the implementation of the rights of Indigenous Peoples and the achievement of internationally agreed upon development goals.

NWAC President Michèle Audette stated, “The adoption of the Outcome Document paves the way to implementing these rights because they are recognized at the highest level of the United Nations structure,” She then continued, “Had Canada not objected, this would have seen all members States collaborate with Indigenous Peoples to implement the principles of the UN Declaration. It is worrisome that Canada is the only one at the international level who is objecting to fully adopting the Outcome Document. This shows a lack of true commitment towards the process of reconciliation between the Indigenous Peoples and Canada.”

Canada has listed their primary objection for signing the Outcome Document as the principle of free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) by Indigenous Peoples on activities that would interfere with their land and their rights in their territories. Although this principle is throughout the UNDRIP and has been echoed by the Supreme Court of Canada cases, the Canadian Government is refusing to sign on.

NWAC will sign on to Joint Statements and make interventions while at the WCIP that reflect the UNDRIP in an attempt to see the principles later implemented within Canada, particularly with respect to the safety and well-being of Aboriginal women. NWAC will continue to hold Canada accountable for the statements and agreements they make regarding implementing the rights of Indigenous Peoples so that they result in concrete action in Canada.

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.

Information on the first World Conference on Indigenous Peoples is available at: http://www.un.org/en/ga/69/meetings/indigenous/#&panel1-1

For more information, please contact:

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

14.09.24 Outcome Document Not Adopted By Canada

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Canada uses World Conference to continue indefensible attack on UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

PRESS RELEASE – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

September 24, 2014 – Indigenous peoples’ organizations and human rights groups are outraged that the federal government used a high level United Nations forum on Indigenous rights as an opportunity to continue its unprincipled attack on the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

On Monday, the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples — a high level plenary of the UN General Assembly in New York — adopted a consensus statement reaffirming support for the UN Declaration.

Canada was the only member state to raise objections.

Chief Perry Bellegarde, Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations, said, “The World Conference was an opportunity for all states to reaffirm their commitment to working constructively with Indigenous peoples to uphold fundamental human rights standards. Alone among all the UN members, Canada instead chose to use this forum to make another unprincipled attack on those very standards.”

The Outcome Document, the product of many months of negotiations between states and Indigenous representatives prior to the World Conference, calls on member states to take “appropriate measures at the national level, including legislative, policy and administrative measures, to achieve the ends of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.”’

The Outcome Document also affirms provisions in the UN Declaration that decisions potentially affecting the rights of Indigenous peoples should be undertaken only with their free, prior and informed consent.

After the Outcome Document was adopted, Canada filed a two page statement of objections, saying that it could not commit to uphold provisions in the UN Declaration that deal with free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) if these provisions were “interpreted as a veto.”

The notion that the  Declaration could be interpreted as conferring an absolute and unilateral veto power has been repeatedly raised by Canada as a justification for its continued opposition to the Declaration. This claim, however, has no basis either in the UN Declaration or in the wider body of international law.

Like standards of accommodation and consent set out by the Supreme Court of Canada, FPIC in international law is applied in proportion to the potential for harm to the rights of Indigenous peoples and to the strength of these rights. The word “veto” does not appear in the UN Declaration.

“The right of free, prior and informed consent is crucial to us, as self-determining peoples,” said Matthew Coon Come, Grand Chief of the Grand Council of the Crees. “The government has never explained what it means by ‘veto.’ Is a ‘veto’ absolute? If so, then a ‘veto’ isn’t the same thing as ‘consent.’”

In international law, human rights are generally relative and not absolute. The right to free, prior and informed consent in the UN Declaration is not absolute.

Grand Chief Ed John, First Nations Summit, said, “In the recent decision recognizing Tsilhqot’in title, the Supreme Court itself rejected Canada’s incomprehensible position.”

In its unanimous decision recognizing Tsilhqot’in ownership of a large part of their traditional lands, the Supreme Court stated in June, “Governments and individuals proposing to use or exploit land, whether before or after a declaration of Aboriginal title, can avoid a charge of infringement or failure to adequately consult by obtaining the consent of the interested Aboriginal group.”

National Chief Ghislain Picard, Assembly of First Nations, said, “Canada keeps insisting that Indigenous peoples don’t have a say in development on their lands. This position is not consistent with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, decisions by its own courts, or the goal of reconciliation.”

Regional Chief Stan Beardy, Chiefs of Ontario, said, “Either through the social license to operate, which refers to the level of acceptance or approval that a local community provides to development, or a Notice of Assertions as provided by First Nations in Ontario this past summer, First Nations are already exercising a direct say about development on their lands — whether Canada objects internationally or not.”

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs, said, “The Outcome Document speaks directly to the pressing human rights concerns of Indigenous Peoples in Canada such as Indigenous Peoples’ participation in consent-based decisions regarding resource development, the need to close the gap in access to government services, and the dire need to address violence against Indigenous women. In light of the game-changing Supreme Court of Canada Tsilhqot’in Nation decision, Canada should have embraced the Outcome Document rather than be the only State in the United Nations to invent self-serving reasons to object.”

Canada’s objection to the World Conference Outcome Document contradicts Canada’s 2010 statement of endorsement of the UN Declaration in which the government said, “We are now confident that Canada can interpret the principles expressed in the Declaration in a manner that is consistent with our Constitution and legal framework.”

In contrast, Canada told the UN that FPIC provisions in the Declaration “run counter to Canada’s constitution” and would “negate” Supreme Court mandated policies on consultation and accommodation.

“It strains credibility to think Canadian officials could actually believe the ridiculous claims they presented to the United Nations,” said Michelle Audette, President of the Native Women’s Association of Canada. “This kind of bad faith and dishonesty will only further tarnish Canada’s reputation and erode Canada’s influence on the world stage.”

On 1 May 2008, over 100 scholars and experts in Canadian constitutional and international law signed an Open Letter stating that the Declaration was “consistent with the Canadian Constitution and Charter … Government claims to the contrary do a grave disservice to the cause of human rights and to the promotion of harmonious and cooperative relations.”

The Outcome Document adopted by the UN General Assembly also calls for “equal access to high-quality education that recognizes the diversity of the culture of indigenous peoples, as well as health, housing, water, sanitation and other economic and social programmes to improve their well-being.” Specific measures are urged for Indigenous people with disabilities and to address HIV/AIDS.

In addition, the Outcome Document calls for “measures which will ensure the full and effective participation of indigenous women in decision making processes at all levels and in all areas,” as well as intensified efforts to stop violence against Indigenous women.

Ad hoc coalition on the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Statement endorsed by:

Amnesty International Canada

Assembly of First Nations

Canadian Friends Service Committee

Chiefs of Ontario

Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations

First Nations Summit

Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou Istchee)

Indigenous World Association

KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives

Native Women’s Association of Canada

Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs

14.09.24 Canada Continues Attack on UNDRIP Joint Statment

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NWAC Continues to call for a National Public Inquiry and a Comprehensive Plan of Action to Address Violence Against Aboriginal Women and Girls

PRESS RELEASE – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

September 17, 2014 (Ottawa, ON) – The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) is pleased that the Government of Canada is regarding violence against Aboriginal women and girls as a priority and that the high rates of missing and murdered Aboriginal women and girls is an unacceptable situation that must end.

NWAC is somewhat pleased to learn that the Federal Government is committed to renew funding for an additional five years for existing programs that are aimed at improving the lives of Aboriginal women, as outlined in the “Action Plan to Address Family Violence and Violent Crimes Against Aboriginal Women and Girls.” However, it is important to note that some of the programs, such as the National Centre for Missing Persons and Unidentified Remains and the DNA Missing Persons Index, which will be very helpful in identifying the ethnicity of persons who have gone missing and were murdered, are for the general population and not Aboriginal-specific. “Nonetheless, putting in place this Action Plan is a step in the right direction,” said Michèle Audette, President of NWAC.

“We know that the existing measures that have been in place are inadequate to address the high rates of violence and murders of Aboriginal women. NWAC is asking for a National Roundtable where all levels of Government can come together with national Aboriginal Organizations and family representatives to look at issues such as economic development, training, housing, education, health and child care to review existing programs and services. This review will enable the development of a seamless and comprehensive Action Plan and will help to prevent fragmented and disjointed programs and services,” said NWAC President Michèle Audette.

“NWAC still sees the need for a non-partisan, National Public Inquiry that will assess the breadth of the problem and, once and for all, unveil the severity of the violence against Aboriginal women because predators feel that they can get away with the violence and murder of our women.” “NWAC is willing to work with the Federal Government in a collaborative and meaningful manner to address the issue of violence as this remains a matter of great priority for NWAC, as it should be for all Canadians,” continued Ms. 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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For more information, please contact:

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

14.09.17 NWAC Response to GoC Action Plan Press Release

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Joint Statement on the Anniversary of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples: Land and resource rights must be recognized and protected

(12 September 2014)–September 13th marks the 7th anniversary of the adoption of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, a consensus global human rights instrument. The Declaration calls on all states to safeguard the traditional land and resource rights of Indigenous peoples, including legal title to lands. The Declaration also requires fair and transparent mechanisms to ensure any disputes over lands and resources are resolved in a just and timely manner.

The rights recognition and protection called for by the Declaration is increasingly reflected in decisions by Canadian courts. For example, in a unanimous decision, Tsilhqot’in Nation v. British Columbia, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled in June that the Tsilhqot’in people in central BC continue to hold title to 1700 km2 of their traditional territory. Accordingly, they have the right to control how the land is used and to benefit from its resources.

In this landmark decision, the Supreme Court affirmed that Indigenous land title that pre-dates the arrival of Europeans in the Americas continues to exist and can be legally enforced. In the ruling, Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin pointedly stated that where unresolved Indigenous title claims exist, government and industry would be wise to obtain the consent of the Indigenous peoples, since decisions made without their consent may be overturned once title is resolved. The decision stated, “if the Crown begins a project without consent prior to Aboriginal title being established, it maybe required to cancel the project upon establishment of the title.”

Such rights to control and consent are consistent with the UN Declaration. The UN Declaration and the Tsilhqot’in Nation decision present crucial opportunities to reframe the relationships with Indigenous peoples so that human rights are fully respected and Indigenous peoples are able to ensure the security and well-being of present and future generations. To achieve this, governments in Canada must be willing to break with the status quo that has dispossessed, marginalized and impoverished Indigenous nations, communities and families.

Our organizations call on the federal, provincial and territorial governments to affirm and uphold the rights of Indigenous peoples – as set out in the Canadian Constitution, Treaties, and international human rights law. This requires:

  • Working collaboratively with Indigenous peoples to resolve outstanding land and Treaty disputes in a manner that is fair, timely and consistent with Canada’s domestic and international legal obligations.
  • Abandoning adversarial and regressive approaches now firmly rejected by courts and international human rights bodies.
  • Providing effective protection of Indigenous peoples’ rights and interests pending the resolution of land and resource disputes, including respecting their free, prior and informed consent on all decisions with the potential for significant impact on their rights.

Respecting the Supreme Court’s ruling in Tsilhqot’in Nation that “incursions on Aboriginal title” can never be justified “if they would substantially deprive future generations of the benefit of the land.”

Almost two decades ago, the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (“RCAP”) concluded that First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples have legitimate legal claims to a much larger land base than they currently control. RCAP warned that if Indigenous peoples “cannot obtain a greater share of the lands and resources in this country, their institutions of self-government will fail … they will be pushed to the edge of economic, cultural and political extinction.”

Affirmation of the land and resource rights of Indigenous peoples cannot be deferred for another generation. Governments in Canada must act now, with urgency and good faith. As the Supreme Court emphasized in the Tsilhqot’in decision, “What is at stake is nothing less than justice…and…reconciliation.”

Ad hoc coalition on the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

Signatory organizations:

Amnesty International Canada
Assembly of First Nations
Canadian Friends Service Committee (Quakers)
Chiefs of Ontario
Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations
First Nations Summit
Grand Council of Crees (Eeyou Istchee)
Indigenous World Association
KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives
Métis National Council
Native Women’s Association of Canada
Tsilhqot’in National Government
Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs

14.09.15 Joint Statement on the Anniversary of UNDRIP

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