July 22, 2016 (Whitehorse, Yukon) – On behalf of the Native Women’s Association of Canada, President Lavell-Harvard met with Canada’s Premiers and Indigenous Leaders on July 20 at the biannual Council of the Federation (COF) meeting in Whitehorse, Yukon. Chaired by Yukon’s Premier Darrell Pasloski, this year’s meeting of the Council of the Federation, from July 20-22, is the first COF meeting to be held in Canada’s North.
The first day of the Council of the Federation meeting was for collaborative, multilateral discussions with Indigenous leaders, in the spirit of reconciliation. The Premiers and Indigenous leaders also had the opportunity to participate in cultural activities at Haines Junction, Yukon, organized by the Champagne and Aishihik First Nations peoples.
“ This gathering has consistently been supportive of the issues that have been concern to Indigenous women in Canada. It was out of the previous Council of the Federation meetings that the Premiers stated their commitment to a National Inquiry on Missing and Murdered Indigenous women. We find these meetings to be respectful and productive,” President Dawn Lavell-Harvard said in her opening remarks.
The key points that came out of the session include:
- Full support from all provinces and territories for the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.
- A commitment to not delay actions by provinces and territories until after the National Inquiry is completed. Preventative action can be implemented now.
- A collective focus on child welfare.
- Ongoing discussion on economic development beneficial to Indigenous communities.
- A commitment for the provinces and territories to meet annually with Indigenous leaders.
“The Native Women’s Association of Canada is looking forward to focusing our collective attention to the issue of child welfare. We continue to have a disproportionate number of children in the child welfare system. As Indigenous women we know there are better ways to support families so that Indigenous families can care for our children,” commented President Lavell-Harvard.
At this meeting, Premiers from all thirteen of Canada’s provinces and territories, joined leaders from the five National Indigenous Organizations, namely the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC), the Indigenous People’s Assembly of Canada (IPAC), Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK), the Assembly of First Nations (AFN), and the Métis National Council (MNC).
The Council of the Federation was established in 2003 as part of the provinces’ and territories’ need to foster a constructive relationship and strengthen the Canadian federation. Its purpose is to promote interprovincial-territorial cooperation, based on a mutual recognition of the diversity within Canada, and to develop collaborative relationships between the Premiers on a number of significant issues such as healthcare, economic growth or trade.
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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