PRESS RELEASE: NWAC Partners with ESDC to Develop an Indigenous Early Learning and Child Care Framework

May 31, 2017 (Ottawa, ON) –In recognition of the continued impact of colonization on the way Indigenous children experience care and education, the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) is partnering with Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) to develop an Indigenous Early Learning and Child Care Framework that will ensure culturally-appropriate child care that is reflective of the unique needs of First Nations and Métis children and families.

Many low-income Indigenous families are currently excluded from accessing high-quality child care services.  Without the availability of other affordable options, children are placed into care that mimics an institutionalized environment and supports a continued process of colonization and assimilation.

Children with disabilities are not properly supported, culturally-appropriate care is not available, and understaffed facilities create a lack of capacity.

The delivery of quality early learning techniques and child care is central to the healthy development and a strong determining factor of children’s future success.  In relationship to the stark contrast between the realities faced by Indigenous children and the necessary steps towards reconciliation, NWAC Interim President Francyne D. Joe offers the following:

“It is unacceptable that Indigenous children continue to receive poorer services than the non-Indigenous children of Canada.  Our culture recognizes the value of each individual and celebrates their gifts in a way that gives our children a strong sense of self-worth and belonging; their childhoods are incomplete without learning these values and practicing these traditions.   We look forward to working with Employment and Social Development Canada on co-developing an Indigenous Early Learning and Child Care Framework that will create a place of learning that foster pride in our children and sets them on an early path to success.”

NWAC and ESDC have already begun grassroots engagement with Indigenous women to gain insight into positive change that can help shape the development of the Framework. Family members, communities, early childhood educators, and experts have been engaged through online surveys and roundtable sessions across the country.

Today, ESDC continues their online engagement process as it launches a new program aimed at hearing the stories and recommendations from Indigenous people across the country on early learning and child care. NWAC encourages Indigenous women who use early learning and child care programs to share their stories and ideas in English, French, or Indigenous languages until the session closes in July of 2017.

For more information or to participate in the online engagement session with the Government of Canada, visit the Indigenous Early Learning and Child Care engagement process web page here.

To complete NWAC’s online engagement survey, click here.

To learn more about the engagement sessions and to learn more about the final report click here.

NWAC Interim President Francyne D. Joe Introduces the 2nd Inquiry Into MMIWG Report Card

Dear Families, Communities, Stakeholders, and Commissioners,

On behalf of the Native Women’s Association of Canada, I would like to present our second Report Card assessing the success of the Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Women and Girls in fulfilling its responsibilities over the past three months.

NWAC has a history of working with families of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls and creating networks of families through a series of projects such as Family Gatherings, Narrative and Digital Storytelling, Sisters In Spirit Vigils, and its premiere research.  We feel a deep responsibility to the families and communities who are at the heart of our work and remain dedicated to producing results and taking actions that we hope can begin to fulfill our duty to the Indigenous women and girls whose interests we represent.

In order to provide feedback that is strength-based, solution-focused, and productive, fairness must be our primary concern.  We have acknowledged our personal connections to this work and applied a critical eye to eliminating any emotional reactions from this document.  Our last Report Card, drafted with minimal information from the Inquiry, called for transparency, communication, and a process that is trauma-informed and culturally sensitive.  It is now our solemn task to identify the areas where this Inquiry has failed and once again appeal to have families come first and for NWAC to be meaningfully consulted in a process in which we are deeply invested.

We are not asking anyone, especially families, to be patient with this Inquiry as it progresses. We are asking that you remain strong and face adversity with the same determination that has made this Inquiry possible. In solidarity, we will not back down until this Inquiry is what we were promised.  To the families and communities, this is your Inquiry to shape and your opportunity to share your stories.  To the stakeholders, this is a chance for healing as a nation and a vital step in the process of decolonization and reconciliation.  To the Commissioners and staff of the Inquiry, the great challenge presented by this work is an impetus to incredible growth and possibility.

I urge you to find your voice in holding this Inquiry accountable and to continue to join us in advocating for a process that reflects our shared values, hopes, and dreams.  We need you to keep writing and signing letters to the Inquiry, holding your own community gatherings, and speaking to the media in order for your stories to be told and your positions to be known. It is my hope that our shared focus may result in an outcome that honours our MMIWG in the way that they deserve and contributes to a future free from violence for the Indigenous women and girls we love.


Francyne Joe

Interim President, Native Women’s Association of Canada

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NWAC Stresses the Importance of Reporting Sexual Harassment & Assault During SAPM

May 12, 2017 (Ottawa, ON) – The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) is observing Sexual Assault Prevention Month (SAPM) by voicing its support for the brave Indigenous women and girls who report sexual harassment and assault.  Despite the multiple barriers Indigenous women and girls face in reporting these incidents, there is increasing public awareness of the importance of documenting these occurrences and pursuing legal action against perpetrators.

NWAC is currently working at the policy level to empower Indigenous women to come forward by supporting legislation like Bill S-215, which would require a court to consider a woman’s race and gender to be an ‘aggravating factor’ when sentencing of violent offenders who have committed a crime of a sexual nature against an Indigenous woman.  NWAC’s Violence Prevention & Safety department also provides resources for women addressing domestic violence.

However, NWAC Interim President Francyne D. Joe stresses the importance of individual actions in compelling change. “The spectrum of what is considered sexual violence covers everything from harassment, which is a violation of human rights, to sexual assault, which is a criminal act.  It’s important to report harassing and inappropriate comments or actions so that individual cases may be dealt with and to provide accurate data which reflects how pervasive sexual harassment is.  This is a crucial step towards prevention.”

“It’s especially hard to come forward when you’re not sure what happened or are worried you might need to defend the choices you made to find yourself in a bad situation,” Joe offers in regards to reporting sexual assault to the police. “NWAC wants Indigenous women and girls to know that no one is responsible for their own sexual assault.  We’re continuing to make recommendations for positive changes to police intake operations that are culturally sensitive and eliminate processes that support victim-blaming.  The healing process between Indigenous communities and the police has just begun.”

NWAC encourages Indigenous women to know their rights through resources such as the Ontario Human Rights Commission’s policy on preventing sexual and gender-based harassment and share this knowledge with their loved ones.  Women and girls who are experiencing or have experienced abuse are advised to seek help and support with those they trust and, if they feel safe doing so, to call the police.

“The launch of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls and the announcement of a $100 million investment in developing and implementing a Federal Strategy to Address Gender-based Violence reinforce NWAC’s message; Indigenous women are loved and valued,” Joe continues.  “We will no longer be forced to silently suffer the burdens of colonial structures put in place to rob us of our power.  We will stand up as a nation and as individuals to reclaim our rights.”

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For more information, please contact:

Lynne Groulx
Executive Director
1 Nicholas Street, 9th Floor
Ottawa, ON K1N 7B7
Toll-free 1-800-461-4043
Tel: 613-722-3033 ext. 223
Email: [email protected]