December 9, 2016 (Washington, DC) – The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) appeared alongside the Canadian Feminist Alliance for International Action (FAFIA) today before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR). NWAC Interim President Francyne D. Joe relayed the shared concerns of NWAC and FAFIA regarding the Terms of Reference of the Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG).
NWAC has previously found support for its work in raising awareness about issues affecting Indigenous women from the IACHR. The scrutiny of their reporting applies international pressure on the government of Canada in matters of addressing human rights issues in law and policy. Their report, entitled ‘Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women in British Columbia, Canada,’ was instrumental in petitioning the government to launch the national Inquiry and getting the government to commit funding for a safe public transport option along BC’s Highway 16, commonly referred to as the ‘Highway of Tears.’
NWAC Interim President Francyne D. Joe reported on NWAC’s participation following her speech at the IACHR. “We’d like to see the recommendations of the IACHR and the report of the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) implemented at every point of this Inquiry, particularly in regards to investigating the systemic causes of violence. There is deeply entrenched sexual discrimination and racism in policing and the Terms of Reference of the Inquiry contain no mechanism for the independent review of individual cases where there are outstanding concerns over the adequacy or impartiality of police investigations.” President Joe provided the IACHR commissioners with concrete examples of police discrimination and misconduct, citing the disparaging and racist comments made on social media by a police sergeant in regards to the death of Annie Pootoogook and the abuses of power in Val-d’Or.
“NWAC has direct contact with the communities whose interests we represent. We can identify omissions in the Terms of Reference that are unique to Indigenous issues, such as how there is no explicit provision made for the accurate translation of the Indigenous languages spoken by the families and friends that will be addressing the Inquiry. We have an understanding of women’s needs and the tools they need to care for themselves and their families. We hope that the IACHR’s recommendations will include the need to meaningfully consult with NWAC going forward,” President Joe continued.
“I’m grateful to have the aid of the IACHR in raising awareness about our work and find this a fitting end to our participation in the 16 Days of Activism to End Violence Against Women as we recognize International Human Rights Day on December 10th,” NWAC Interim President Joe concluded.
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