PRESS RELEASE: NWAC PEKE Advisory Committee Member Appointed to CIHR Institute Advisory Board

October 31, 2016 (Ottawa, ON) – The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) is pleased with the recent appointment of Erica Samms-Hurley, a Mi’kmaq woman from Newfoundland and a member of the Qalipu First Nation, to the Institute Advisory Board (IAB) on Chronic Conditions at the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).

In the pursuit of research excellence and creativity, CIHR’s five new IABs will provide a wider scope of expertise and identify opportunities for collaboration across CIHR’s 13 Institutes and numerous initiatives. The IAB on Chronic Conditions provides advice on the discovery, development, evaluation and integration of solutions that allow Canadians living with chronic conditions to actively participate in society. There are four other IABs which include: Research Excellence, Policy and Ethics; Health Innovation; Indigenous Peoples’ Health; and, Health Promotion and Prevention.

Erica Samms-Hurley
Erica Samms-Hurley

Samms-Hurley brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the IAB on Chronic Conditions. She is a Nurse Educator with Grenfell Campus, Memorial University of Newfoundland, and the newly elected Western Region Vice-Chief for the Qalipu Mi’kmaq First Nation Band Council. Dedicated towards improving the health & well-being of Aboriginal women, Samms-Hurley is a previous NWAC board member and is currently active on the NWAC’s Pathways PEKE (Partners for Engagement and Knowledge Exchange) Advisory Committee and the Indigenous Women’s Fund of Canada board.

In 2005, Samms-Hurley received the Governor General’s Youth Award in Commemoration of the Persons Case for her contribution to the advancement of women’s equality. She also received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012 in recognition of her achievements and contributions to the advancement of health.

Quotes:

Erica Samms-Hurley – “The effective management and prevention of chronic diseases represents one of the biggest challenges to Canada’s healthcare system. I look forward to providing advice and impacting research on chronic conditions in Canada.”

NWAC President Francyne Joe – “Aboriginal women’s participation on the new CIHR IABs is an important step in addressing Aboriginal women’s health inequities in Canada”

NWAC President Francyne Joe – “CIHR’s new advisory model fosters a spirit of collaboration among Institutes and Aboriginal experts, in an effort to effectively respond to health challenges facing Aboriginal peoples.”

 

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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CONTACT:

Dan Peters
Senior Operations Manager
1 Nicholas Street, 9th Floor
Ottawa, ON K1N 7B7
Toll free 1-800-461-4043
Tel.: 613-722-3033 x. 249
Email: dpeters@nwac.ca

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PRESS RELEASE: Canada Held to Account for its Disappointing Women’s Rights Record by the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women

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October 28, 2016 (Geneva, Switzerland) – This week Canada’s record of women’s equality was under the spotlight at the United Nations in Geneva. The 65th Session of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) happens at an opportune moment for Canadian women. Canada has a new federal government with a Prime Minister who says he is a feminist, calls for a nation-to-nation relationship, and acknowledges that “poverty is sexist”. We know words matter, but now we need action.

Decades of regressive legislative changes and budget cuts have substantially eroded women’s rights under the Convention of the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination (CEDAW) in Canada. Since 1995, Canada has fallen from 1st to 25th place on the UN Gender Inequality Index.

Canada needs a comprehensive and holistic national gender equality plan that addresses all forms of discrimination against women and girls. It must take an intersectional approach, recognizing that particular groups of women and girls—including First Nations, Inuit, Métis, racialized, disabled, refugee, immigrant, transgender, lesbian, bisexual and single parent women and girls—experience particular forms of discrimination and deepened disadvantage.

Indigenous women’s, women’s and human rights organizations welcome the creation of the National Inquiry on Missing Women and Girls. However, we remain concerned about the inadequacy of the Terms of Reference and the fact that there are 37 additional recommendations from the CEDAW Committee’s inquiry into the crisis of murders and disappearances that have not yet been implemented.

Indigenous women continue to be marginalized in Canada, as the Native Women’s Association of Canada has shown. Dr. Pam Palmater, Chair of Indigenous Governance at Ryerson University stated, “Indigenous women and girls in Canada suffer some of the world’s highest suicide rates, overrepresentation in prison and high rates of sexualized violence. These conditions are brought on by years of colonization, theft of lands and resources, discriminatory state legislation, chronic under-funding of critical social programs like water, food, housing, health and education and the theft of children into foster care. These conditions are also exacerbated by the devastating impact of the extractive industry, which is allowed to operate without Indigenous consent.”

The Canadian gender wage gap is twice the global average, patterns of job segregation by sex remain unchanged with women concentrated in traditionally female and lower-paying jobs, and women are disproportionately represented in part-time, precarious work. Country-wide pay equity legislation and adequate childcare are needed, alongside new and aggressive strategies involving all levels of government to address structural inequalities and close the wage gap. “Due to the ‘motherhood tax,’ Canadian mothers earn 12% less than women without children. The gap increases as the number of children goes up. It is also larger for single mothers and mothers who have taken longer periods away from paid employment,” says Kasari Govender, Executive Director of West Coast LEAF.

Canada fails to respect, protect and fulfill the social and economic rights of women and girls. Too many women in Canada experience poverty, homelessness, insecure housing, woefully inadequate social assistance incomes, food insecurity, and other violations of the right to an adequate standard of living. Civil society organizations urge Canada to immediately increase the Canada Social Transfer amount to provinces and territories, earmark sufficient funds specifically for social assistance, with conditions to assure accountability for rights obligations, ensure that Canada’s national housing strategy use a rights and gender-based approach, and increase adequate access to education for Indigenous women.

Male violence against women continues to be underreported to police and the responses of policing agencies and the criminal justice system continue to fail women. Inadequate and underfunded services to prevent violence and support survivors, and insufficient affordable housing and shelters accessible to women fleeing abuse, particularly in rural and northern communities, violate the rights of women and girls to live in safety and free from violence. Racialized violence disproportionately affects Indigenous women and girls in Canada, according to the Native Women’s Association of Canada.

Employer-specific closed work permits make it challenging for migrant women, including caregivers, to easily leave abusive employment situations. Canada must end its use of closed work permits in the Temporary Foreign Workers Program.

We are very concerned about access to abortion, including access to both medical and surgical abortions, particularly in rural and northern areas. Canada is one of the only countries with a public health care system that does not have a national pharmacare program. Because of the cost of some drug regimes, this has penalizing effects for certain groups of women, including pregnant women seeking medical abortions and women with HIV.

There remains a significant implementation gap between Canada’s human rights obligations for women and their realization within domestic laws, policies and programs. It is time for our federal government to take leadership and work with provinces and territories to implement the CEDAW, and launch a comprehensive national initiative so all women in Canada can enjoy the equality CEDAW guarantees.

Aboriginal Legal Services
Amnesty International
Barbara Schlifer Clinic
BC CEDAW Group
Canada Without Poverty
Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies
Canadian Feminist Alliance for International Action
Chair in Indigenous Governance, Dr. Pam Palmater
Coalition of Child Care Advocates of BC
Indigenous Women Against the Sex Industry
MiningWatch Canada
Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC)
OXFAM
West Coast LEAF

Read the Joint Report by NWAC and FAFIA submitted to the 65th session of CEDAW here

 

MEDIA CONTACTS
Christa Big Canoe, Legal Director, Aboriginal Legal Services (criminalization of Indigenous women; experiences of Indigenous victims of sexual violence; inequities in education)
Tel: + 1 647-227-4392; email: canoecd@lao.on.ca

Michèle Biss, Legal Education and Outreach Coordinator, Canada Without Poverty (homelessness; poverty; food insecurity; inadequate social assistance rates; minimum wage; wage gap; implementation of economic social and cultural rights)
Tel: +1 613-697-8743; email: michele@cwp-csp.ca

Shelagh Day, Chair, Human Rights Committee, Canadian Feminist Alliance for International
Action (Indian Act sex discrimination; women’s equality; violence against women)
Tel: +1 604-872-0750; email: shelagh.day@gmail.com

Viveca Ellis, Community Organizer, Single Mother’s Alliance, (BC CEDAW Group: Community engagement)
Tel: +1 604 366 1008; email: info@singlemothersbc.org

Kasari Govender, Executive Director, West Coast LEAF (child care; women’s human rights; access to justice; poverty)
Tel: +1 604-684-8772 x211; email: exec@westcoastleaf.org

Sharon Gregson, The Coalition of Child Care Advocates of BC (child care)
Tel: +1 604-505-5725

Kamila Graczyk, Assistant Communications Coordinator, Native Women’s Association of Canada
Tel: +1 613-722-3033 x235; email: kgraczyk@nwac.ca

Dr. Pam Palmater, Chair in Indigenous Governance, Ryerson University (violence against
Aboriginal women; Aboriginal rights, title, sovereignty, incarceration and placements in care)
Email: ppalmater@politics.ryerson.ca

Kim Pate, Executive Director (women in detention)
Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies
Tel: +1 613 238 2422; email: kpate@web.ca

Pamela Rice, Barbara Schlifer Clinic
Tel: + 1 416-312-8998; email: p.rice@schliferclinic.com

Cherry Smiley (Indigenous women)
Indigenous Women Against the Sex Industry
Email: contactIWASI@gmail.com

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PRESS RELEASE: NWAC Commends the Government For Introducing Legislation that Begins the Process of Ending Sex Discrimination in the Indian Act

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October 26, 2016 (Ottawa, ON) – The Native Women’s Association of Canada commends the Government for introducing legislation in the Senate yesterday that begins the extensive process of ending sex-based inequities and residual discrimination against Indigenous women and their families embedded within the Indian Act. The new Bill, An Act to Amend the Indian Act to Eliminate Sex-Based Inequities in Indian Registration, represents Stage I of the Government’s recently launched two-staged approach to end sex discrimination in the Indian Act, as it pertains to Indian status provisions and First Nations citizenship.

Both Stage I and Stage II are the Government’s response to the 2015 Superior Court of Quebec’s decision on the Descheneaux et al., v. Canada case, where the court found that sections of the Indian Act violated section 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The court gave the Government until February 3 2017 to make the necessary legislative amendments.

“For decades, NWAC has worked on addressing sex-based discrimination against Indigenous women and girls, their families, and communities. We are pleased that the government is moving forward on this issue by introducing this important legislation. We are also encouraged that the government has acknowledged much more needs to be done with respect to membership. NWAC is looking forward to partnering with the government on these broader critical issues. We believe that this legislation is only the beginning of the process to fully ending all forms of discrimination in the Indian Act. NWAC would like to see the full implementation of Article 33 of UNDRIP, “Indigenous peoples have the right to determine their own identity or membership in accordance with their customs and traditions,”

–  Francyne Joe, President

The proposed legislative amendments will directly affect Indian status registration and membership and will address “historic inequities in how men and women acquire and transmit Indian status”, with some estimates showing the increased number of Status Indians to be up to 15 000.

The following are three sex-based inequities within the Indian Act that the Government has identified so far, to be included in the legislative amendments in response to the Descheneaux decision:

  • Cousins Issue: Address the differential treatment of first cousins whose grandmother lost status due to marriage with a non-Indian, when that marriage occurred before April 17, 1985
  • Siblings Issue: Address the differential treatment of women who were born out of wedlock of Indian fathers between September 4, 1951 and April 17, 1985
  • Issue of Omitted Minors: Address the differential treatment of minor children, compared to their adult or married siblings, who were born of Indian parents or of an Indian mother, but lost entitlement to Indian Status because their mother married a non-Indian after their birth, and between September 4, 1951 and April 17, 1985

NWAC looks forward to seeing the aforementioned sex-based inequities remedied effectively, as well as other misogynist laws that have been discriminating against Indigenous women and girls for centuries. Dr. Lynn Gehl (2013) identified one such legislative issue, namely the unknown or unstated paternity policy. This policy causes Indigenous children to be robbed of inclusion in their home communities due to the Government’s inherent assumption that lack of a father’s signature on a birth certificate translates to the father being a non-status Indian. Even worse, the unknown or unstated paternity policy applies to Indigenous mothers whose children were conceived through the violent acts of sexual assault, incest, rape or prostitution, which only adds further insult to injury by depriving her children of the socio-economic and cultural benefits of status Indian-ship and First Nations citizenship.

Once the legislative amendments are passed in February 2017, we look forward to working with the Government to ensure full engagement by Indigenous communities when we collectively begin examining the broader issues relating to Indian status provisions and First Nations citizenship, as part of Stage II of this initiative. Moving beyond the issues identified by the Descheneaux case decision requires extensive consultations with Indigenous peoples across Canada in order to achieve culturally and regionally diverse perspectives.

NWAC looks forward to facilitating the Government’s effective collaboration and consultation with Indigenous leaders, organizations and communities in order to identify, address, and eliminate all forms of discrimination within the Indian Act.

Press Release by the Government of Canada – http://news.gc.ca/web/article-en.do?nid=1142979&tp=1

More information on the Descheneaux et al., v. Canada case – https://www.aadnc-aandc.gc.ca/eng/1467227680166/1467227697623

 

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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CONTACT:

Dan Peters
Senior Operations Manager
1 Nicholas Street, 9th Floor
Ottawa, ON K1N 7B7
Toll free 1-800-461-4043
Tel.: 613-722-3033 x. 249
Email: dpeters@nwac.ca

 

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PRESS RELEASE: NWAC Calls for Immediate Action on Indigenous Youth Suicide Crisis After the Tragic Loss of Four Young Girls

October 20, 2016 (Ottawa, ON) – The Native Women’s Association of Canada calls for immediate action on the worsening youth suicide crisis within Indigenous communities, after the tragic loss of four young girls within a week. The northern Saskatchewan Indigenous communities of Stanley Mission, La Ronge, and Deschambault Lake are mourning the loss of the four young girls, aged 10 to 14, after they took their own lives.

This month’s suicides, along with the recent crisis in the northern Ontario community of Attawapiskat, illustrate just how little we understand about what young Indigenous girls and boys are going through and how inadequate our response is.

“We lose our Indigenous girls in many ways. In one week we have lost four girls between the ages of 10 to 14 to suicide. They could not find the hope to keep going.  We collectively failed them because we did not show them that they are valued and that we will address the systemic violence that does not recognize their beauty and worth.  We collectively let them be told that they are not worthy of a school system, health care system, child welfare supports, home care system equal to other children just down the road from them that are not living on reserve. We told them that they are lesser than other children so they can live in housing that is substandard and with water that is not drinkable. This is not the families’ loss, or the communities’ loss. This tragedy is our collective loss. We have lost our children.”

– Francyne Joe, President

Vigil in La Ronge, Saskatchewan in memory of the lost girls. (Photo Credit: Don Somers, CBC)
Vigil in La Ronge, Saskatchewan in memory of the lost girls. (Photo Credit: Don Somers, CBC)

The reaction to this crisis is not to provide mental health supports for the crisis and then everything stays the same.  While communities need funds for culturally-aware mental health counselling, supports and programs for at-risk youth, we also need a comprehensive systemic response to communities losing their children.  Cindy Blackstock’s work through the First Nation and Family Caring Society has consistently identified issues that needs to change for our Indigenous children and youth.

The results of assimilatory government policies such as residential schools and the Sixties Scoop, as well as a steady diet of racism, misogyny and sexualization of Indigenous women and girls, have led to the higher rates of anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorders and other mental health issues within Indigenous communities, particularly among Indigenous women and girls. This leads to suicide and self-inflicted injuries becoming one of the most common causes of death for Aboriginal youth and adults (up to 44 years of age), according to Health Canada (2012).

Indigenous youth seeking culturally-aware mental health counselling and crisis intervention should call the 24/7 toll-free hotline – 1-855-242-3310. Services are available in English and French, as well as Cree, Ojibway and Inuktitut.

 

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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CONTACT:

Dan Peters
Senior Operations Manager
1 Nicholas Street, 9th Floor
Ottawa, ON K1N 7B7
Toll free 1-800-461-4043
Tel.: 613-722-3033 x. 249
Email: dpeters@nwac.ca

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PRESS RELEASE: NWAC Extends Heartfelt Condolences to Family and Loved Ones of the Late Annie Pootoogook

October 13, 2016 (Ottawa, ON) – The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) would like to extend our deepest and most heartfelt condolences to the family, loved ones, and Inuit community known to the late Annie Pootoogook, an admired, internationally-acclaimed Inuit artist. Our heart goes out to the Inuit community members across Canada who are in the midst of mourning their loss at today’s memorial at St. Paul’s Eastern United Church in Ottawa, Ontario and at yesterday’s funeral at Pootoogook’s hometown of Cape Dorset, Nunavut.

In solidarity with Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, we would also like to sternly condemn the racist and derogatory comments posted online by an Ottawa police officer after the body of Annie Pootoogook was found in Ottawa’s Rideau River on September 19.

Rebecca Kudloo, President of Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada said, “We will not be commenting on Annie’s death at this time, out of respect for her family’s wishes.”

NWAC supports Natan Obed, President of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, in calling for stern disciplinary action against the officer whose hurtful and despicable words further highlight the issue of systemic racism against Indigenous peoples in Canada and the urgent need to address it.

Family and community members calling for justice for Annie Pootoogook at Ottawa's October 4 Sisters In Spirit Vigil.
Family and community members calling for justice for Annie Pootoogook at Ottawa’s October 4 Sisters In Spirit Vigil.

“It is absolutely reprehensible that only two months after the official launch of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls – whose terms of reference emphasized how the role of institutional racism within law enforcement agencies results in inadequate police investigations into violent crimes against Indigenous women – the racist Ottawa police officer proceeds with harming Ottawa’s Indigenous community without any repercussions,” President Francyne Joe said.

Family members and loved ones mourn the loss of world reknown artist Annie Pootoogook.
Family members and loved ones mourn the loss of world reknown artist Annie Pootoogook.

Annie Pootoogook, 46, was a world-known Inuit artist whose ink and crayon drawings depicting everyday life and struggles in the North brought her international fame and numerous awards, having her artwork displayed at museums and art galleries across Canada, the United States and Europe. As the daughter of celebrated Inuit artists Napachie Pootoogook and Eegyvudluk Pootoogook and granddaughter of the Order of Canada recipient Pitseolak Ashoona, artistic talent is deeply rooted in her family and community in Cape Dorset, Nunavut.

As an artist whose work has brought much needed public awareness to the issues faced by Inuit communities in the North and as a strong Indigenous woman, Annie Pootoogook and her grieving family should be given the respect, empathy and justice that they rightly deserve, by both the wider Canadian public and the Ottawa police force. It is our collective responsibility to honour Annie Pootoogook and celebrate her impactful contribution to the world.

 

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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CONTACT:

Dan Peters
Senior Operations Manager
1 Nicholas Street, 9th Floor
Ottawa, ON K1N 7B7
Toll free 1-800-461-4043
Tel.: 613-722-3033 x. 249
Email: dpeters@nwac.ca

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PRESS RELEASE: Joint NWAC and Statistics Canada Report Shows High Rates of Suicidal Ideation Among Indigenous Youth

logo89-653nwac_logo_en_fr_split-new    statscanada

October 13, 2016 (Ottawa, ON) – The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC), in collaboration with Statistics Canada, published the report entitled “Past-year suicidal thoughts among off-reserve First Nations, Métis and Inuit adults aged 18 to 25: Prevalence and associated characteristics based on data generated from the 2012 Aboriginal Peoples Survey. The results of this report do not come as a surprise, as the loss of loved ones through suicide has been a reality for many Indigenous communities spanning many generations.

The prevalence of lifetime suicidal thoughts among Aboriginal young adults was almost double (27%) that of their non-Aboriginal counterparts (15%). Aboriginal young women in particular showed a trend towards higher prevalence of lifetime suicidal thoughts, and were more likely than men to report mood and/or anxiety disorders and a bullying environment in school.

In 2012, 5-10% of off-reserve First Nations, Métis and Inuit young adults reported suicidal thoughts in the previous twelve months. Among the three Aboriginal groups studied, young adults who reported having mood and/or anxiety disorders, ever using drugs, or hopelessness were more likely to have had past-year suicidal thoughts.

Conversely, high self-worth was associated with reduced likelihood of suicidal thoughts among off-reserve First Nations, Métis, and Inuit youth. Strong extended family ties and post-secondary school attendance were only associated in the case of off-reserve First Nations young adults. These association could advance the discussion of the development and evaluation of gender and community specific suicide prevention programs.

Research by Chandler and Lalonde (2008) found that certain factors have shown to protect against suicide. They include community and individual empowerment, control over personal lives, connection to culture, participation of women in local band councils, and the control of child and family services within the community.

NWAC applauds the Liberal government’s recent commitment of $70 million in new funding over the next three years to address the health and suicide crisis involving Indigenous peoples living on-reserve and in the territories. However, long-term solutions, improved resources and culturally-aware mental health services, both on and off-reserve, are urgently needed to effectively address this crisis and the underlying systemic issues contributing to the risk of suicide and suicidal thoughts in Indigenous youth throughout Canada.

QUOTE:

“The suicide epidemic in our Indigenous communities requires immediate action. It is only through the sharing of knowledge and translating research into viable prevention programs that the staggering rates of suicidal thoughts among Indigenous youth can be reduced. Interventions need to be adapted to the needs of specific communities.”

– Francyne Joe, 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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CONTACT:

Dan Peters
Senior Operations Manager
1 Nicholas Street, 9th Floor
Ottawa, ON K1N 7B7
Toll free 1-800-461-4043
Tel.: 613-722-3033 x. 249
Email: dpeters@nwac.ca

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PRESS RELEASE: NWAC Disappointed With Lack of Progress In National Inquiry into MMIWG

 October 5, 2016 (Ottawa, ON) – At the October 4th Sisters In Spirit vigils throughout the country, we heard family members describe their disappointment and concern about the delays in starting the National Inquiry.  The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) would also like to express our disappointment and frustration with the lack of substantial progress in the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls since its official launch on August 3rd, 2016.

“We are very concerned. The two-year mandate that the National Inquiry Commission has been given leaves a very short time for the mandated tasks of establishing regional and issue-specific advisory bodies, creating trauma-informed and culturally aware counselling services, and beginning the substantive process of listening to family members, loved ones, and survivors express their stories all across Canada,” said NWAC President Francyne Joe.

Family members and loved ones of MMIWG at the 2016 October 4th Sisters In Spirit Vigil in Ottawa.
Family members and loved ones of MMIWG at the 2016 October 4th Sisters In Spirit Vigil in Ottawa.

“After 11 years of conducting in-depth research, publishing extensive reports, and campaigning for a National Inquiry to address the alarming rates of violence against Indigenous women and girls, we are very disappointed to see that over two months into the two-year Inquiry mandate, no visible progress has been made. Family members, loved ones have been waiting for decades to be heard.  We recognize that it a big task to start a National Inquiry but the lack of communication has been disappointing and worrying.” said President Francyne Joe.

Family members, loved ones, and survivors deserve a transparent National Inquiry that is capable of delivering justice and properly honouring the over 1200 Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls in Canada. A transparent National Inquiry includes easily accessible information regarding office locations across Canada, readily available contact information to the Commissioners and their staff, a step-by-step guide on how to get involved with the Inquiry, a straightforward and coherent website, and other necessary infrastructure that will ensure the success of this Inquiry.

Family members and loved ones express concern over lack of Progress in MMIWG Inquiry.
Family members and loved ones express concern over lack of Progress in MMIWG Inquiry.

The time has come for the Inquiry Commission to illustrate its competence in being able to adequately address the systemic causes behind the high rates of violence against Indigenous women and girls. The immense responsibility associated with the tremendous task of addressing one of the gravest human rights abuses in Canada’s history leaves no time to waste. The time to begin this important work is now.

The Native Women’s Association of Canada is committed to monitoring the progress on the National Inquiry and will continue to apply pressure on the Inquiry Commission to live up to the family members’ high expectations.

 

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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CONTACT:

Dan Peters
Senior Operations Manager
1 Nicholas Street, 9th Floor
Ottawa, ON K1N 7B7
Toll free 1-800-461-4043
Tel.: 613-722-3033 x. 249
Email: dpeters@nwac.ca

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PRESS RELEASE: Communities Across Canada Hold 11th Annual October 4th Sisters In Spirit Vigils to Honour MMIWG

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October 4, 2016 (Ottawa, ON) – Communities across Canada are hosting vigils to honour and commemorate the lives of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls as part of the annual October 4th Sisters in Spirit vigils.

For eleven years, since 2006, family members, community members, and concerned citizens have come together, organizing candlelight vigils, rallies and community feasts to honour our lost sisters, daughters, mothers, healers, educators, and leaders.

October 4th Sisters In Spirit Vigil at Parliament Hill in 2015.
October 4th Sisters In Spirit Vigil at Parliament Hill in 2015.

“I would like to acknowledge the strong and resilient Indigenous women leaders across this country who have created and fortified this movement for social change by applying pressure every year on governments to address the alarming rates of violence against Indigenous women and girls.” said Interim President Francyne Joe.  “This year’s Sisters in Spirit October 4th vigils are especially crucial, as we turn our attention and expectations towards the work of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.”

The first Sisters in Spirit October 4th Vigils were hosted in 2006 after the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) had begun its detailed research into the alarming rates of violence against Indigenous women and girls in Canada, under the umbrella of the Status of Women-funded Sisters In Spirit research and policy initiative. The resulting database found that there were over 582 Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls in Canada, with the confirmed numbers rising to 1 181 after the RCMP published its report in 2014.

Elder Annie Modeste smudging at the 2015 October 4th Vigil.
Algonquin Elder Annie Smith St. George smudging at the 2015 October 4th Vigil.

Close to 100 communities across Canada will be hosting October 4th Sister In Spirit Vigils this year, illustrating the strength and leadership of Indigenous women, families, and communities in supporting family members in their grief and raising public awareness to address this tragic crisis in Canadian society.

The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) stands in support and solidarity with the numerous communities during today’s October 4 Vigils as we fight against the violence and injustices inflicted upon our Indigenous women and girls.

 

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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CONTACT:

Dan Peters
Senior Operations Manager
1 Nicholas Street, 9th Floor
Ottawa, ON K1N 7B7
Toll free 1-800-461-4043
Tel.: 613-722-3033 x. 249
Email: dpeters@nwac.ca

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