(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.
“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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