NWAC Bids Farewell to Outgoing Executive Director, Claudette Dumont-Smith: Passionate Activist, Health Expert & Beloved Algonquin Leader

Claudette

 

 

(March 31, 2016) (Ottawa, ON) ― Today it is with deep sadness that the staff and board of the Native Women’s Association of Canada bid farewell to the magnificent and unflappable Claudette Dumont-Smith. A strong Algonquin woman from Kitigan Zibi, Quebec, Claudette has worked tirelessly her entire life for the betterment of Indigenous peoples, particularly for our women and girls.

Claudette Dumont-Smith is a former commissioner for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada who worked as a health-care professional within Indigenous communities since the late 1970s. A registered nurse, she has held executive positions at multiple national organizations that specialize in the health of Indigenous women and children, including the Aboriginal Nurses Association of Canada, and the National Aboriginal Child Care Commission. She has also worked as an independent management consultant, specializing in health consultation.

Claudette has researched and written about abuse and health issues within Indigenous communities, including Elder abuse, child abuse, domestic violence and problems that Indigenous women face on and off reserves. She holds a master’s degree in public administration from Queen’s University and a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing from the University of Quebec.

For those of us who have had the great fortune to work for and with Claudette, we know that she is one of the most genuine, warm and respectable human beings you could ever meet. She cares deeply for all those who surround her both personally and professionally, she leads with a unique sense of patience and tenacity, and she takes great care to lift up all those around her with her sharp Algonquin wit and infectious sense of optimism.

Claudette will be missed greatly, and we wish her all the best in retirement. Congratulations, Claudette!

 

QUOTE:

 

“Claudette has been an incomparable asset to NWAC. She provided strong and steady leadership and took great care to ensure her staff were valued and cared for. I am truly blessed to have been able to call Claudette a colleague, and even more to call her a dear friend. Thank you so much for everything you have done for this organization, Claudette, and for Indigenous women and girls across Canada. Congratulations on your retirement!”
―Dawn Lavell-Harvard, President of the Native Women’s Association of Canada

 

 

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Official Statement on 2016 Federal Budget

(March 31, 2016) (Ottawa, ON) – The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) has carefully reviewed the federal budget as presented by the newly-elected federal government in the House of Commons on Tuesday, March 22, 2016.

NWAC welcomes this budget’s investments in Indigenous peoples ― particularly those targeting the structural discrimination facing Indigenous women and girls, who are among the most disadvantaged demographic globally.

Given our decades of work lobbying government, NWAC is extremely pleased to learn of the long-awaited fulfillment of the two-year, $40 million national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women. Likewise, our organization is pleased to learn of significant funding commitments for renovations and construction of new shelters for survivors of gender-based violence both within and outside Indigenous communities.

While NWAC shares concerns over the staggered five-year funding projection for certain social programming known to require immediate action as indicated by the United Nations and the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights, NWAC welcomes new investments in clean water and housing for Indigenous peoples living on reserves and support for early learning and childcare for Indigenous families. We know that social infrastructure investments are beneficial and greatly needed.

It is NWAC’s ongoing hope that this new government ensures that our public institutions listen attentively to expert advisors and grassroots groups, complies with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and works to implement clear, action-based legislation that will rectify the severe discrimination faced by Indigenous women and girls and all Indigenous peoples living both on and off reserve in Canada.

While this budget marks a clear change in federal priorities from previous governments, NWAC seeks to underscore the need for ongoing vigilance in ensuring that these investments are in fact fully implemented. In particular, it is NWAC’s sincere hope that the national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women is undertaken in a fulsome, pragmatic and entirely non-partisan manner.

The Native Women’s Association of Canada looks to the future with cautious optimism, and will continue fighting for the rights of Indigenous women and girls until our needs are sufficiently met, and until we have achieved the full equality that we deserve.
QUOTE

“Though our women and girls are strong, resilient and capable of great things, due to post-colonial practice and racial and sexual discrimination, we have not been handed the same opportunities as others. This budget marks a dramatic change in federal priorities from the previous government’s record. Though I share some of the same concerns held by other stakeholder groups and individuals, overall, I see this budget as a step forward for Indigenous peoples. This year, it would seem that our voices have finally been heard. I look forward to working with this new government in a productive, transparent and respectful manner; keeping the social, economic and political advancement of our Indigenous women and girls a top priority every step of the way.”
―Dawn Lavell-Harvard, President of the Native Women’s Association of Canada

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Native Women’s Association of Canada
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NWAC Congratulates 7 Newly-Appointed Senators


(March 30, 2016) (Ottawa, ON) ― The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) seeks to extend sincere congratulations to the seven newly-appointed Canadian Senators announced by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Friday, March 18, 2016.

Justice Murray Sinclair, Chantal Petitclerc, V. Peter Harder, Frances Lankin, Ratna Omidvar, Raymonde Gagné, and André Pratte are all impeccably accomplished individuals. NWAC is confident that these new appointments will contribute to a more robust, independent and representative legislative process in Canada.

NWAC seeks to extend special congratulations to our dear friend, Justice Murray Sinclair, who chaired the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). From his work as a Judge in Manitoba, to his passion and dedication toward delivering the historic TRC report recommendations, Justice Sinclair has dedicated his entire life to reconciling Indigenous and Western relations. He is a truly suitable candidate for this prestigious high office.

On behalf of all staff, members, and provincial and territorial associations, congratulations! We look forward to working with you for the betterment of Indigenous women and girls.

QUOTE:

“Each of these individuals is a shining embodiment of accomplishment. I am confident in their collective ability to uphold the independence, diplomacy and non-partisan leadership that this high office demands. Congratulations!”
―Claudette Dumont-Smith, Executive Director of the Native Women’s Association of 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.

 

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NWAC President Dawn Lavell-Harvard Participates in Two Key Parallel Events at 2016 UN Commission on Status of Women

 

(March 24, 2016) (NY, NY, United States of America) ― Dawn Lavell-Harvard, President of the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC), partook in two key parallel events at the 60th United Nations Special Commission on the Status of Women (#CSW60) in New York, New York on Tuesday March 22, 2016.

The first parallel event entitled Indigenous Women’s Empowerment: Combating the Global Epidemic of Murdered & Missing Indigenous Women took an interdisciplinary, cross-generational look at the disproportionate violence Indigenous women and girls face across North America. Fellow panelists included: Dr. Mary Roessel (Navajo) of Santa Fe Indian Hospital; Noel Altaha (Apache) of Columbia University; and Betty M. Lyons (Onondaga) President of the American Indian Law Alliance. This discussion was moderated by Tia Oros Peters (Zuni), Executive Director of Seventh Generation Fund.

The second parallel event was entitled Together We Are Stronger: Indigenous Women’s Movements to End Violence Against American Indian, Alaska Native, and Aboriginal Women. This event was intended to recognize, strengthen, and honour the growing Global movement to end the human rights crisis of violence against Indigenous women and girls. Fellow speakers included: Terri Henry, Co-Chair of the National Congress of American Indians Task Force on Violence against Women and Chair of the Indian Law Resource Centre Board of Directors, as well as Tamra Truett Jerue, Director of the Alaska Native Women’s Resource Centre, Tribal Administrator, and Director of Social Services for the Anvik Village Tribal Council.

QUOTE

“It was an honour to participate in each of these critical parallel events during the 60th United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. Crossing Turtle Island to join our sisters near and far is a crucial piece to solving this international epidemic. In order to end violence against Indigenous women and girls, we must continue to work collaboratively – sharing our stories and building strategic, interdisciplinary partnerships. We are stronger together.”
―Dawn Lavell-Harvard, Ph.D., President of the Native Women’s Association of 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.

 

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jjefferys@nwac.ca

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NWAC Mourns Life of Delaine Copenace; Renews Call for Immediate Cross-Governmental Action to End Violence against Indigenous Women and Girls

(March 23, 2016) (Ottawa, ON) – The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) is devastated to learn of yet another daughter stolen from us. The remains of 16 year-old Delaine Copenace of the Onigaming Nation were found yesterday (Tuesday, March 22, 2016) near her home community of Kenora, Ontario.

As the groundswell of community vigils and public search parties would indicate over the past month since she went missing, Delaine Copenace was a girl who was loved and cherished by all those who knew her.

NWAC continues to demand immediate concerted action on the part of both the federal government and all provincial and territorial governments to stop this National epidemic from perpetuating. NWAC maintains that the national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls along with Ontario’s new investments are positive first steps – but that we require acknowledgement and cooperation from authorities, from all provinces and territories, and all public institutions in order to reconcile these realities and move forward together.

In light of this heartbreaking tragedy, NWAC seeks to extend our deepest heartfelt condolences to the Copenance family, to all Onigaming peoples, to all family members who may experience re-traumatization in learning of this tragedy, and to the entire community of Kenora who have fought hard since late February to find this beautiful young girl. You are in our hearts.

QUOTE

“I wish to send my deepest condolences to all family members, friends and to the entire extended Kenora community as they cope with the loss of Delaine. These senseless acts of violence against our young daughters must end now. Canada must rectify the socio-economic structures that discriminate against our girls and our women to prevent these tragedies from perpetuating. We light a candle in memory of this young stolen sister, and we continue to embark on our journey together to end violence in all its forms against Indigenous women and girls. We will not stop until the violence stops.”
―Dawn Lavell-Harvard, President of the Native Women’s Association of 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 Indigenous women since 1974, NWAC’s mandate is to achieve equality for all Indigenous women in Canada.

 

 

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MEDIA CONTACT:

 

Jenn Jefferys
Native Women’s Association of Canada
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jjefferys@nwac.ca

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NWAC President, Dawn Lavell-Harvard, Speaks to Plight of Indigenous Women and Girls in Canada at 2016 UN Commission on Status of Women; Receives Standing Ovation


(March 18, 2016) (New York, NY, United States) – Dawn Lavell-Harvard, President of the Native Women’s Association of Canada, was invited to join the sixtieth session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, which began March 14 and concludes on March 24, 2016 at UN headquarters in New York City.

Yesterday (March 17, 2016), Lavell-Harvard joined an esteemed panel of Indigenous women for a special side-event sponsored by Canada entitled Indigenous Women and Girls: Pathways to Equality. The purpose of this side-event was to examine the underlying factors that contribute to Indigenous women and girls’ abuse, including the longstanding impacts of colonialism, racism and sexism.

Lavell-Harvard’s fellow panelists for this event included Chandra Roy Henriksen, Chief of the Secretariat of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, Betty Lyons, President and Executive Director of the American Indian Law Alliance, and Mirna Cunningham Kain, former Chairperson of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. This panel was moderated by Canada’s Minister of Justice and Attorney General, Jody Wilson-Raybould.

Panelists spoke collectively to the ongoing need to provide holistic, Indigenous-led approaches to addressing the ongoing discrimination experienced by Indigenous women and girls, including violence and abuse.

Lavell-Harvard’s remarks explored the unique and complex plight of Indigenous women and girls in Canada, which, despite a new and promising government remains serious and demands action. Lavell-Harvard spoke to the grueling and multi-decade long grassroots effort on the part of the Native Women’s Association of Canada and other groups and individual activists from across Canada who worked tirelessly to draw the attention of the international community to the reality of missing and murdered Indigenous women –ultimately leading to the national inquiry, now underway.
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QUOTE
“To be born Indigenous and female in a country like Canada means that we are born political. We recognize that Canada has the resources and the infrastructure now to lead the way in ending violence against Indigenous women and girls both domestically and internationally. Though decades of systemic oppression and abuse cannot be reversed overnight, the power of our women can wear away the strongest opposition if we are all united. Together, alongside our international partners, we will end violence against Indigenous women and girls.”
―Dawn Lavell-Harvard, President of the Native Women’s Association of Canada

 

 

MEDIA CONTACT

Jenn Jefferys
Native Women’s Association of Canada
jjefferys@nwac.ca
+1 613-485-1988

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NWAC Renews Call for An Immediate Strengthening of Health Services, Resources for Communities Struck by Suicide Epidemic

 

Native Women’s Association of Canada Renews Call for An Immediate Strengthening of Health Services, Resources for Communities Struck by Suicide Epidemic

 

(March 11, 2016) (Ottawa, ON) ― The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) is heartbroken over the recent tragedies in the Pimicikamak Cree Nation of Northern Manitoba. We offer our sincere condolences to the community, as well as the families and friends who are grieving the loss of loved ones.

Recent reports of suicide and suicide attempts in Pimicikamak Cree Nation are devastating; however this reality is not an isolated occurrence. According to the First Nations Regional Health Survey 2002/03, 3 in 10 adults (31%) reported having had suicidal thoughts and 1 in 6 (16%) had attempted suicide at some point in their lives. Further, Indigenous women were more likely than men to have attempted suicide (18.5% versus 13.1%).

In 2010, Health Canada reported that the suicide rate among Indigenous youth is estimated to be five to six times higher than that of non-Indigenous youth in Canada. This is a human rights crisis that must be addressed immediately.

NWAC is currently partnered with the Canadian Institutes of Health Research in their Pathways to Health Equity for Aboriginal Peoples initiative, which focuses on moving research into culturally-relevant, gender-appropriate, community-based interventions related to mental health and wellness.

QUOTE:

“Indigenous communities are facing a suicide epidemic. When a member of our community is lost to suicide, particularly a young person, the entire community experiences the repercussions collectively. More robust services are required immediately in our communities to stop these tragedies from reoccurring – that means acknowledging the structural oppression our communities are subjected to, and putting forward stronger services now. Clearly, this epidemic demands immediate action; our communities cannot afford to wait.”
―Dawn Lavell-Harvard, President, Native Women’s Association of 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.

 

 

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MEDIA CONTACT:
Jenn Jefferys
Native Women’s Association of Canada
jjefferys@nwac.ca
+1 613-722-3033 ext. 235
+1 613-485-1988 (cell)

 

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We Are Now Accepting AWBEN 2016 Grant Applications!

Each year, the Aboriginal Women’s Business Entrepreneurship Network is honoured to present two grant opportunities to dynamic and deserving Indigenous women to assist them is starting up their own business.

 

ACCESS AWBEN GRANT INFORMATION HERE

 


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NWAC Marks International Women’s Day 2016

NWAC Marks International Women’s Day 2016

 

(March 8, 2016) (Ottawa, ON) – Today on International Women’s Day, the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) joins voices on every continent in celebrating the vital role women play in our communities.

Despite ongoing structures of discrimination, women hold a growing number of powerfully influential roles around the world and here at home in Canada. We know that without our mothers, grandmothers, sisters, daughters and aunties, our very way of life would crumble.

In certain Indigenous cultures, women retain a special and distinct relationship to water; rooted in cultural beliefs, social practices and economic contexts. When it comes to many of our teachings surrounding language and culture, women are the carriers of this knowledge ― ultimately holding our traditions, and by extension our families and communities, together.

As the national voice for Indigenous women in Canada, NWAC seeks to express deep respect, appreciation and love toward all women ― who, against all odds, are keeping our communities alive around the world in so many ways.

On behalf of all of us at the Native Women’s Association of Canada, Happy International Women’s Day!

 

QUOTE:

“Indigenous women are the epitome of strength and resilience. Our women are leaders, life givers, caregivers, healers, decision-makers, and the very heartbeat and lifeblood of our communities. Without our women, there would be no community at all. Today and every day, I encourage both Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples alike to give thanks to the women in their lives for all that they do for us.”
―Dawn Lavell-Harvard, President of the Native Women’s Association of Canada

 

MEDIA CONTACT:

Jenn Jefferys
Native Women’s Association of Canada
jjefferys@nwac.ca
+1 613-485-1988

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Outcomes from the 2nd Annual National Roundtable on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls

COMMUNIQUE – OUTCOMES & PRIORITIES FOR ACTION TO ADDRESS VIOLENCE AGAINST INDIGENOUS WOMEN AND GIRLS

(February 26, 2016) (Winnipeg, MB): Inuit, Métis, and First Nations leaders, families of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls (MMIWG), Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, federal, provincial and territorial Ministers today committed to ongoing urgent and coordinated action to prevent and address violence against Indigenous women and girls, and to continue this work during the National Inquiry on MMIWG.

The group met today in Winnipeg for the 2016 National Roundtable on MMIWG hosted by Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger, and agreed to action-based collaboration outlined in the document: ‘2016 National Roundtable on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls: Outcomes and Priorities for Action to Prevent and Address Violence Against Indigenous Women and Girls’. This roadmap document provides governments with 20 priorities for action in three theme areas: prevention and awareness; community safety; and culturally relevant policing measures and justice responses, and builds on commitments of the 2015 Roundtable held in Ottawa.

Participants of the 2016 National Roundtable agreed to work with families and local partners to:

• Continue with coordinated collaboration and action to prevent and address violence against Indigenous women and girls during the National Inquiry on MMIWG.

• The importance of a national inquiry on MMIWG, with federal, provincial and territorial governments committing to participation and full cooperation in the process.

• Build on the current Aboriginal Affairs Working Group to include the federal government as a co-Chair, with time dedicated to MMIWG issues including the ongoing coordination of efforts, monitoring progress, and identifying priorities for action, including appropriate F/P/T Ministers.

• Supporting the development of Indigenous-led cultural competency, anti-racism and anti-sexism training programs for all public servants across governments, police and the justice system to include components focused on Indigenous history, impacts of policies, legislation and historical trauma.

• Create and implement a set of common performance measures to assess progress toward addressing and reducing the socio-economic gaps experienced by Indigenous peoples.

• Work collaboratively to improve communication and coordination between Indigenous families and: communities; victim services; policing; prosecutions; women’s groups; anti-violence groups; and shelter workers.

• Implement the proposed Canada-wide prevention and awareness campaign focused on changing public perception and attitudes to help end violence against Indigenous women and girls.

Highlights:

Families of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls met with participants of the 2016 National Roundtable at a separate gathering yesterday to discuss directly with provincial and territorial leaders their recommendations for achieving justice and ending violence.

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne provided an update on the Canada-wide prevention and awareness campaign committed to at the 2015 National Roundtable.

Alberta Indigenous Relations Minister Richard Feehan shared an update on work underway through the Aboriginal Affairs Working Group to develop a socio-economic action plan for Aboriginal women. The plan will present a comprehensive account of the challenges and barriers that adversely impact socio-economic outcomes for Aboriginal women. It will share best practices and identify collaborative means to improve socio-economic outcomes of Aboriginal women.

Federal Ministers Jody Wilson-Raybould, Dr. Carolyn Bennett and Patty Hajdu provided an update on the engagement process and planning for a National Inquiry on missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. Participants shared their support for a National Inquiry and views on how to best engage and reflect regional interests and perspectives.

All participants want to acknowledge the excellent work accomplished at the 2016 Justice Practitioners’ Summit, and will work to examine all of the recommendations contained within the report. The Summit gathered together nearly two hundred participants from across Canada representing experts and practitioners in three key sectors: victim services; policing; and prosecutions.

Roundtable participants expressed support for ongoing efforts among all governments and organizations engaged in ending violence against Indigenous women and girls.

Quick Facts:

• Violence against Indigenous women and girls is systemic and a national crisis that requires urgent, informed and collaborative action.

• Indigenous women are three times more likely than non-Indigenous women to be victim of violence.

• Current public data on MMIWG oversimplifies and underrepresents the scale of the issue, yet still demonstrates a complex and pervasive pattern of violence against Indigenous women and girls who are often targeted because of their gender and Indigenous identity.

• While there have been a number of reports stating numbers are significantly higher, the 2014 RCMP Operational Overview notes that police recorded 1,017 incidents of Aboriginal female homicides between 1980 and 2012 and 164 missing Aboriginal female investigations dating back to 1952.

• From 2001 to 2014 the average rate of homicides involving Indigenous female victims was four times higher than that of homicides involving non-Indigenous female victims.

• Indigenous women make up 16% of all female homicide victims, and 11% of missing women, even though Indigenous people make up 4.3% of the population of Canada.

2016 National Roundtable on MMIWG participants included families of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, federal Ministers of Justice, Indigenous Affairs and Status of Women, provincial and territorial Ministers, Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde, Congress of Aboriginal Peoples National Chief Dwight Dorey, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami President Natan Obed, Métis National Council President Clément Chartier, Native Women’s Association of Canada President Dawn Lavell-Harvard, Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada President Rebecca Kudloo, Les Femmes Michif Otipemisiwak / Women of the Métis Nation President Melanie Omeniho.

A full list of participants to the 2016 National Roundtable on MMIWG is attached.

 

Quotes:
Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada The Hon. Jody Wilson-Raybould: “A priority for our Government is to create a pathway for substantive and true reconciliation and a renewed relationship with Indigenous Peoples in this country – how we address Indigenous issues in this country will be the lasting legacy of our government. Many of the women and girls who are missing or murdered are certainly victims of crime, but the issues extend well beyond our criminal-justice system, and we must look at the root causes of this tragedy. Our commitments to assess our progress in reducing the social and economic inequalities in Indigenous communities, and to improve communication between Indigenous communities, victim services, policing and prosecutions, will represent important first steps in healing that relationship.”

Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada The Hon. Dr. Carolyn Bennett: “Today the Government of Canada joined families, Indigenous organizations, provinces and territories and made real progress by committing to a much needed national inquiry. With provincial and territorial support, a national inquiry can look at many of the critical issues under their jurisdiction, such as child welfare and policing. I would like to thank all the families, survivors, and elders for their input which will continue to be essential in designing the best possible inquiry. We are determined to do this right, to honour the spirits and memories of those we have lost, and to protect future generations.”

Minister of Status of Women The Hon. Patty Hajdu: “Violence against Indigenous women and girls will not stop on its own – it will take the collective effort of governments, organizations and individuals to prevent future tragedies from happening. This roundtable is an important opportunity to explore solutions and to pledge – as a country – to work together to empower Indigenous women and girls and ensure their safety now and in the future.”

Premier of Manitoba Greg Selinger: “On behalf of all Manitobans, I’m honoured to have hosted this second roundtable on missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. I’m truly humbled by the stories I have heard here, and by the level of commitment demonstrated by participating leaders. These stories of pain and trauma are difficult to hear just as it’s difficult for those families to share their stories, but this is an important part of reconciliation. It’s important for us to listen to these painful experiences because it will inform and enlighten the work we do going forward to ensure safety and security for Indigenous women and girls The violence they have been subjected to is intolerable, and I feel confident this roundtable will inspire leadership at all levels to work collectively to end it for good.”

Premier of Ontario Kathleen Wynne: “The high number of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls is unacceptable. It’s time to work together to take meaningful steps toward making Canada a safer place for all Indigenous women and girls. The National Roundtable helped us make progress on a number of key initiatives, including developing a Canada-wide campaign that will promote awareness of the issue. I’m pleased that Ontario is taking a leadership role in developing this campaign — creating awareness is the first step toward resolving this crisis.”

Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde: “The commitments made by government representatives today are welcome but action on the ground is crucial. Words must lead to results. We will continue to press at every level for action that achieves safety and security for Indigenous women, girls and families.”

Assembly of First Nations Regional Chief Shane Gottfriedson: “Efforts to prevent and address violence against Indigenous women and girls do not start and should not end with a National Inquiry. Today is an example of political commitment, and now we must see that commitment turn into action. We cannot wait until the end of an inquiry to see results on the ground. There are efforts we can make now to better ensure the safety of our most vulnerable.”

Congress of Aboriginal Peoples National Chief Dwight Dorey: “I was extremely pleased with the level of commitment and collaboration demonstrated this week during our discussions with all Indigenous, federal, provincial, and territorial leaders at the National Roundtable on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. We must move quickly and decisively to prevent and reduce the unacceptable level of violence that many Indigenous women and girls have endured for far too long – I’m confident these discussions were a significant step forward and will produce results.”

Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami President Natan Obed: “Today we have recognized that it is within our power, as representatives of governments and organizations, and as Canadians, to end the cycle of violence against Indigenous women and girls. We have determined that it must end with us. Now, we must follow through on the actions we have agreed to undertake together and make them a priority in every aspect of our work and our lives.”

Métis National Council President Clément Chartier: “The Métis Nation welcomes concerted action by all jurisdictions to deal with violence against Indigenous women and girls. Our governments and communities work tirelessly to improve the lives of our people and require active and ongoing support in their endeavours to achieve community safety and security. An action plan built on real commitment of all jurisdictions is essential to the effectiveness of the measures they put in place to protect lives and create opportunities.”

Les Femmes Michif Otipemisiwak / Women of the Métis Nation President Melanie Omeniho: “Les Femmes Michif Otipemiswaké Women of the Metis Nation is very proud of some of the major commitments that have been made by some of our various governments across the country. With their supports we truly hope we can continue to work together to see the statistics change and that our Metis women and girls can feel free and valued as part of society.”

Native Women’s Association of Canada President Dawn Lavell-Harvard: “The united front we have established here in Canada on violence against Indigenous women and girls is a powerful one. From coast to coast to coast, from NAOs to elected provincial and federal leaders – a chorus of unity has emerged. Violence against Indigenous women and girls will not be tolerated. Coordinated national action is imperative. It is our hope at the Native Women’s Association of Canada that this year’s Roundtable will provide a solid foundation for the next phase of the national inquiry. This crisis must be addressed effectively in order to begin to reverse the cycle of violence against our sisters. We have only one chance to get this right – and we must remain vigilant.”

Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada President Rebecca Kudloo: “We will no doubt learn from the inquiry, but we already know a great deal about what is needed to prevent violence and abuse in our communities. I welcome the commitments made today by the provinces and territories to work together to coordinate action during the course of the national inquiry.”

Alberta Minister of Indigenous Relations The Hon. Richard Feehan: “I’m proud to represent Alberta as part of this national roundtable that brings together the hearts and minds of Indigenous families, Indigenous leaders, and government representatives. This forum is a place where we can listen and learn, and where we can work together on actions to eliminate violence against Indigenous women and girls.”

British Columbia’s Attorney General and Minister of Justice The Hon. Suzanne Anton: “Ensuring the safety of Indigenous women and girls is one of the defining issues of our time. Discussions today were focused on measurable actions to affect change in our society. In B.C., we believe that engaging families about this important issue is critical to success. This engagement will inform our work moving forward, including B.C.’s input into the upcoming National Inquiry. Recognizing there is still much to be done, our government is determined to make meaningful progress with our colleagues across the country for the safety and security of Indigenous women and girls.”

New Brunswick Minister Responsible for the Aboriginal Affairs Secretariat The Hon. Dr. Ed. Doherty M.D.: “This is an important opportunity to stimulate discussion and collaboration in moving forward with the issue of missing and murdered Aboriginal women and girls in Canada. We are pleased to participate in the Roundtable again this year, and to work together to create the conditions to improve the quality of life for Aboriginal women and girls in New Brunswick and across the country.”

Newfoundland and Labrador Minister of Justice and Public Safety and Attorney General The Hon. Andrew Parsons: “The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador looks forward to working with the Government of Canada, other provinces and territories and national Aboriginal organizations on a National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. We remain committed to eliminating all forms of violence against this vulnerable group and our ultimate goal is for safer communities and a safer country for all Canadians.”

Northwest Territories Minister Responsible for the Status of Women The Hon. Caroline Cochrane: “The Northwest Territories remains committed in this work and to the principle that the best results are achieved through collaboration, particularly with the people most directly affected by the issue and the governments and organizations that represent them. The Roundtable has been an important opportunity for that kind of collaboration and we must continue to work on the issue of missing and murdered indigenous women and girls with all our partners.”

Nova Scotia Minister of Community Services and Status of Women The Hon. Joanne Bernard: “I am honoured to have the opportunity to continue to be engaged in this important collaborative work. I am hopeful that our decisions today will ensure that all Canadians will become more engaged and aware as we move to address the disproportionate rates of missing and murdered indigenous women and girls. I am particularly pleased and hopeful on the commitment of ongoing conversations centred on child welfare”

Nunavut Minister responsible for the Status of Women The Hon. Monica Ell-Kanayuk: “The struggle of our First Nations, Métis and Inuit women and girls can no longer be overlooked. The 2nd National Roundtable on MMIWG has strengthened our shared commitment to move forward as Canadians to end this tragedy. Violence against Indigenous women is at the very core, and we commit to finding solutions to support victims, strengthen awareness and find solutions to curb this crisis.”

Prince Edward Island Minister of Transportation, Infrastructure and Energy and Minister Responsible for the Status of Women The Hon. Paula Biggar: “I was deeply touched by the honesty and courage of the family members who shared their experiences with us. These stories will guide and inspire our work as we continue to act collaboratively on the elimination of violence against Indigenous women and girls. Together we can break the cycle of violence and begin a journey of healing and reconciliation.”

Quebec Minister responsible for Native Affairs Geoffrey Kelley: Considerable efforts have already been made on the wide variety of issues that arise from violence against Indigenous women with First Nations organizations in Québec, but we are always working to do more. We are convinced that solutions will come by working together with all levels of government, Native leaders and communities. Our presence here today precisely reflects our willingness to collaborate with our colleagues from other provinces and territories as well as the federal government to share our resources and our experiences so as to end violence against Indigenous women and girls, which is our ultimate shared goal.”

Saskatchewan Minister of Justice and Attorney General The Hon. Gordon Wyant: “The National Roundtable has provided an excellent opportunity to collaborate with my colleagues and national Aboriginal organization representatives on the actions needed to make Canada a safer place for Indigenous women and girls. Significant steps have been taken through this and other forums over the last year, such as the release of the final Federal Provincial Territorial Justice and Public Safety Framework on Addressing Violence against Indigenous Women and Girls, the Justice Summit in Winnipeg and the federal government’s engagement on the National Inquiry into Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls.”

Yukon Deputy Premier and Minister Responsible for Women’s Directorate Elaine Taylor: “Our delegation brings a strong and united voice in support of the families of Yukon’s missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls,” Deputy Premier Elaine Taylor said. “As leaders, we are committed to addressing violence against Indigenous women and girls, and to taking collaborative action to address this important issue on the territorial as well as national level. Should there be an interest to hold a third National Roundtable, Yukon would be willing to host.

 

ACCESS FULL 2016 ROUNDTABLE OUTCOME DOCUMENT HERE

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Statement on NWAC Exclusion from March 2016 First Ministers Meeting

Official Statement from Dawn Lavell-Harvard on the Exclusion of the Native Women’s Association of Canada from March 2016 First Ministers Meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia

 

INDIGENOUS WOMEN AND GIRLS DESERVE A PLACE AT THE TABLE


(March 2, 2016) (Vancouver, BC) ― When former Prime Minister Paul Martin hosted the First Ministers and National Aboriginal Leaders meeting in the lead up to the Kelowna Accord in 2005, the Native Women’s Association of Canada was at the table.

Today, during this critical First Ministers Meeting in Vancouver, without clear explanation or justification, the Native Women’s Association of Canada was not invited.

Despite our strength, resilience and natural role as life givers – as the very heartbeat of our communities – for decades, Indigenous women and girls have struggled to have our voices heard.

Over the years, we have been categorically silenced, excluded, and forced out of critical decision-making processes by Indigenous and non-Indigenous men alike as a result of sexism, racism, and patriarchal systemic barriers.

To that end, in protest for my not receiving an official invitation to this First Ministers Meeting, I am present here in Vancouver today to fight for Indigenous women and girls from across Canada.

Choosing to exclude the Native Women’s Association of Canada from the First Ministers Meeting was unfair, and speaks volumes to the ongoing lack of respect for Indigenous women’s and girls’ voices in Canada.

While NWAC welcomes the decision to call a National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (an historic and long-awaited undertaking which NWAC was the first to call for), we refuse to be excluded from major meetings and consultations with the government, particularly with the Prime Minister.

Indigenous women and girls deserve a place at the table.

Sincerely,
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Dawn Lavell-Harvard
President
Native Women’s Association of Canada

 


FOR MEDIA INQUIRIES:

Jenn Jefferys
Native Women’s Association of Canada
jjefferys@nwac.ca
+1 613-485-1988

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