August 29, 2017 (Ottawa, ON) – As the Government of Canada announces the establishment of two new departments designated to undertake the work formerly performed by Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC), the Native Women’s Association of Canada affirms the need for its inclusion in the decision-making processes surrounding the structure and implementation of the changes.
“The Government of Canada has prioritized its needs by creating two new departments without the free, prior, and informed consent of Indigenous women,” stated NWAC President Francyne D. Joe. The duty to consult with the institutions representing Indigenous peoples is recognized by Article 19 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and affirmed by Article 35 of the Constitution Act. “Having not been consulted, we are now suddenly in the position of building the capacity to engage with both the Ministers of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs and Indigenous Services,” said Joe.
“The dual approach may present a risk that the new delegation of responsibilities will create further bureaucratic barriers to the empowerment of Indigenous women. The needs of communities must be the priority. We expect to be full participants in decision making on any issue that effects Indigenous women and girls, including the formation of structural changes.”
“It has taken 20 years for the Government to implement the recommendation of the Report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (RCAP) to reorganize INAC into new, separate departments. Embracing the spirit of RCAP also requires the fulfillment of its recommendation that the full and fair representation of women in decision making is assured,” continued Joe.
“The creation of two new departments may present an opportunity to better define our role in the Crown-Indigenous and nation-to-nation relationship,” said Joe. NWAC has outlined the ways in which the current federal government does not support the meaningful inclusion of Indigenous women in its position paper, Nation-to-Nation and Indigenous Women. “The nation-to-nation framework must be expanded to include NWAC, in recognition of the critical need for a gendered lens on all matters affecting the well-being of Indigenous women and girls. This includes legislative and administrative measures such as those announced by the Office of the Prime Minister. I look forward to working with Minister Bennett and Minister Philpott on ways to enhance the well-being of Indigenous women and girls.”
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