NWAC Calls for Resignation of Senator Lynn Beyak

September 18, 2017 (Ottawa, ON) – In response to the racist opinions stated by Senator Lynn Beyak, the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) is calling for her resignation and removal from the Senate of Canada.  NWAC considers Senator Beyak’s recent comments regarding First Nations people and the Indian Act to be directly supportive of cultural genocide and a threat to the distinct rights of Indigenous women.

NWAC President Francyne Joe elaborated on the impact of the Senator’s public statements in relation to NWAC’s work in advocacy, policy, and legislation.  “Right now, we are challenging the denial of our rightful place in the nation-to-nation relationship.  We are advocating for the decolonization of Canada’s relationship with Indigenous peoples through the restoration of Indigenous women’s equal role in decision-making.”

“Senators are to bring wisdom and conscience to the work of legislating policy within a human rights framework.  By silencing our voices at the national level and giving political power to those whose ideas support assimilation and deny our identities, this nation is allowing systemic racism and sexism to continue.”

NWAC took issue with Beyak’s choice to highlight the implied positive aspects of residential schools instead of their horrific legacy through comments made in the Senate during March of 2017. Beyak has also made comments that were especially hurtful to transgender and Two-Spirit Indigenous peoples in Committee.

NWAC has identified the removal of sex-based discrimination in the Indian Act as a priority issue and feels compelled to take action to encourage Beyak’s removal from the Senate.  “It is unacceptable for a person who holds such racist opinions to be in a position to exert authority during the work to end sex-based discrimination in the Indian Act through Bill S-3,” confirmed Joe.

“Racist and ignorant perspectives continue to be heard over the marginalized voices of Indigenous women,” concluded Joe.  “Indigenous women must be given a more powerful voice at the national level in order to remove systemic barriers to our empowerment.”

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For more information, please contact:

Lynne Groulx
Executive Director
1 Nicholas Street, 9th Floor
Ottawa, ON K1N 7B7
Tel: 613-277-8831
Email: lgroulx@nwac.ca

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National Voice of Indigenous Women Silenced at Federal Level

September 8, 2017 (Ottawa, ON) – The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) has not received an invitation to attend the First Ministers’ Meeting announced on September 7th, 2017.  “The Office of the Prime Minister of Canada is continuing a nation-to-nation approach that deliberately excludes Indigenous women’s perspectives on decisions affecting their lives,” stated NWAC President Francyne D. Joe.

The First Ministers’ Meeting on October 3rd will address the implementation of the Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change and sustainable economic growth. It has been documented that climate change has the biggest impact on those living in poverty, a group in which Indigenous women and children are overly represented.  When Indigenous people are displaced from land through colonization, climate change, and pollution, they are impacted mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually. There is a profound impact on maternal health, economic security, and the ability to share cultural knowledge across generations.

“In order to recognize the value of Indigenous women and their communities, advance Indigenous rights, and combat gender inequality, Indigenous women must be involved in emergency planning, environmental sustainability, and climate change discussions,”elaborated Joe.

“This model for renewed relationships ignores the critical need for a gendered lens in decision-making. It devalues Indigenous women’s roles as equal representatives for their people and silences NWAC as the representative body that Indigenous women have established to advocate on their behalf at the national level.”

NWAC was excluded from the First Ministers’ Meetings held in March of 2016 and on December 9th, 2016, as well as a high-level reconciliation meeting with the Prime Minister’s Office on December 8th, 2016.  “The existing nation-to-nation framework fails to decolonize Canada’s relationship with Indigenous women,” emphasizes Executive Director Lynne Groulx.  “When our perspectives are ignored the government perpetuates structural inequality against all Indigenous women. It places Indigenous women as a secondary priority.”

“Indigenous women are strong, resilient, and deserve to speak for themselves and set priorities at the highest level. Our message to Prime Minister Trudeau is that nation building and reconciliation are Indigenous women’s issues,” concluded Joe.

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For more information, please contact:

Lynne Groulx
Executive Director
1 Nicholas Street, 9th Floor
Ottawa, ON K1N 7B7
Tel: 613-277-8831
Email: lgroulx@nwac.ca

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National Inquiry into MMIWG Met with National Indigenous Organizations This Week

June 16, 2017 (Ottawa, ON) – The national Indigenous organizations (NIOs) assembled in Ottawa yesterday to receive updates on progress and strategies from representatives of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (National Inquiry) including Chief Commissioner Marion Buller and Commissioners Brian Eyolfson, Marilyn Poitras, and Qajaq Robinson. Also in attendance were the Executive Director Michèle Moreau, Director of Communications Bernée Bolton and Director of Community Relations Waneek Horn-Miller.  Commissioner Michèle Audette and Lead Commission Counsel Susan Vella joined the Ottawa assembly via teleconference, Delilah Saunders attended on behalf of the Family Advisory Circle, and Grandmother and Elder Blu Waters provided opening and closing addresses. The meeting was co-chaired by Jean Teillet on behalf of the NIOs and Commissioner Marilyn Poitras on behalf of the National Inquiry.

The meeting was held in response to a joint letter from the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples (CAP), Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK), the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC), Pauktuutit and Les Femmes Michif Otipemisiwak (Women of the Métis Nation/WMN) expressing dissatisfaction with the degree of their involvement, disappointment with the lack of information received from the National Inquiry to date, and offering renewed support. Joined today by the Assembly of First Nations (AFN), the leadership of the NIOs sat down for the first face-to-face meeting between the NIOs and the National Inquiry since an informal meet and greet in February.

Some updates on work plans and the Inquiry’s communications strategy were shared.  Highlights of the discussions and shared commitments include:

  • The development of an agreed upon schedule of meetings and milestones, including face-to-face meetings of this group on a quarterly basis. One Commissioner will join biweekly teleconferences with the NIOs and more formalized frameworks such as Memoranda of Understanding the individual NIOs will be determined as required;
  • That work plans and schedules of community, institutional, and expert hearings would be shared well in advance; and
  • A shared commitment to work to include small, remote and isolated communities and hard to reach families and individuals through appropriate and relevant communication that is rooted in Indigenous culture and languages.The meeting concluded with an understanding and agreement that trust must be rebuilt between the National Inquiry and families and survivors, NIOs and other indigenous organizations and the general public.  NIOs in attendance expressed relief that the National Inquiry recognizes their value in this process and are poised to take action in embracing the expertise, experience, and outreach capabilities of their organizations. Barring the possibility of discussing all of the proposed agenda items in one afternoon, a commitment was made to meet again by teleconference in two weeks to conclude these discussions. The NIOs look forward to receiving information about the work plans, specific commitments as to the frequency of updates, and further meetings with the National Family Advisory Circle. The establishment of an Inuit Nunangat Advisory Committee will be prioritized and act as key advisors to the National Inquiry. A calendar of truth gathering hearings will be posted online and shared by other means as soon as possible in order to allow families and communities time to prepare.

“I look forward to strengthening relationships of trust and sharing with the organizations,” said Chief Commissioner Marion Buller.

Chief Commissioner Marion Buller, National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls

Robert Bertrand, National Chief of the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples

Francyne Joe, Interim President of the Native Women’s Association of Canada

Rebecca Kudloo, President of Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada

Melanie Omeniho, President of the Women of the Métis Nation

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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
lgroulx@nwac.ca

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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: lgroulx@nwac.ca

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NWAC Announces Mother’s Day Awareness & Fundraising Campaign

April 24, 2017 (Ottawa, ON) – In recognition of the special gifts our mothers share with their children and their communities, the Native Women’s Association of Canada invites individuals to celebrate a mother in their life with a Maxine Noel Not Forgotten scarf.  Launched on Friday, the “Make NWAC a Part of Your Family This Mother’s Day” campaign will showcase the scarf as a thoughtful, practical gift for mothers that will help them show their recognition of the strength, resiliency, and value of Indigenous women.

“As the national advocate for First Nations and Métis women, we are always increasing awareness of the ways that policy and legislation can be changed to improve the lives of Indigenous women living in Canada,” NWAC Interim Francyne D. Joe reflects.  “We do this work in recognition of the power women and girls have to support their communities, pass on their cultural beliefs and values, and shape the future.”

NWAC has been vending gifts featuring Noel’s work since the Dakota Sioux artist donated her Not Forgotten artwork in 2016.  “The world we all live and move in, is a place of great and terrible beauty, of wonder, and of tragedy,” says Noel of her series honouring the missing and murdered women of the Indigenous community.  “Our women are our heart and our spirit, always honoured, never forgotten”

“I wear the Not Forgotten scarf to many of my engagements and have found it a valuable tool in starting conversations about the terrifying numbers of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls as well as respectful ways of honouring their lives,” observes Joe.  “This Mother’s Day, we’re promoting the scarf as a gift that has meaning and is a part of growing social awareness.  It’s colourful, beautiful, and bright, just like our proud adoptive, biological, and step mothers.”

All proceeds from sales of the Not Forgotten scarves go towards NWAC’s work and may be purchased from the NWAC website.

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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: lgroulx@nwac.ca

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NWAC Celebrates International Women’s Day at the National Indigenous Women’s Summit

March 8, 2017 (Toronto, ON) – The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) Interim President Francyne D. Joe joined other Indigenous women leaders in thanking hosts and welcoming delegates to the fifth National Indigenous Women’s Summit (NIWS) on Monday, saying “It is essential to the success of reconciliation that Indigenous women determine and develop our own priorities in the areas of health, education, climate change, gender equality, and safety. ”

Taking place through Wednesday, March 8th, International Women’s Day (IWD), NIWS brings together leaders from National Indigenous Organizations (NIOs), Chiefs, Elders, youth leaders, and regional representatives together to be inspired by keynote speakers and artists, network, and workshop solutions to the issues affecting Indigenous women.  NIWS 2017 is hosted by the Province of Ontario and carries the theme of Empowering Indigenous Women Now and In the Future.  The summit culminates today with presentations of the workshop recommendations and responses to those recommendations by federal, provincial, and territorial governments, followed by a press conference.

“This IWD, we celebrate the strength of Indigenous women, our contributions to our communities, and the acknowledgment of the wisdom, knowledge, and spirit that we have to share.  I am saddened that Indigenous women everywhere continue to live without equal rights by any standards, as well as those of the United Nations.  NWAC will continue to advocate for dignity, respect, and freedom from fear for First Nations and Metis women alongside the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) and the calls to action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) to policy affecting Indigenous women,” Joe stated.

Joe concluded that “NIWS empowers us to explore how we as a collective can make a significant change.  Building off of last year’s recommendations, we are able to create our own strategies for implementing a gendered lens and population-specific applications to the findings put forth by the TRC and UNDRIP.”

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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: lgroulx@nwac.ca

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NWAC Welcomes Corporate Responsibility as Sponsorships Grow

March 7, 2017 (Ottawa, ON) – As Indigenous issues including health, education, the environment, and justice dominate the headlines, the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) is tracking intensified interest in supporting Indigenous women’s issues.  More organizations and businesses are approaching the NWAC with opportunities for sponsorships, speaking engagements, and partnerships.

The song “This Is My Canada,” to be performed by Grammy and Juno-winning artists as well as A-List session musicians from the Toronto region at the Junos, will be donating a portion of the proceeds from its sales to NWAC.  “We’ve received wonderful support from artists like “This Is My Canada” singer/songwriter Jeanette Arsenault and are excited to welcome more Indigenous and non-Indigenous contributions, including performances and revenue shares,” commented NWAC Interim President Francyne D. Joe.

An additional sponsorship opportunity is also fast approaching. “I’m thrilled to invite those who wish to offer their support to NWAC to shop at Simons on International Women’s Day.  Along with three other organizations mandated to support the well-being of women, NWAC will be sharing 10% of Simons’ sales revenues from Wednesday, March 8th, 2017.  This is the kind of brand with which we see many aligned values, such as being community-oriented, celebratory of individuality and uniqueness, and dedicated to treating employees with fairness.”

“Canada treats corporations as recognized entities with their own rights.  More companies are recognizing an opportunity to embrace their status and support reconciliation through sponsoring our work,” added NWAC Executive Director Lynne Groulx.

Joe expanded on the value of sponsorship, saying “A leading national advocate for First Nations and Métis women, sponsors are able to acknowledge their commitment to human rights, gender equality, and ending violence against women through supporting NWAC.  NWAC’s strong social media presence can also give brands an opportunity to reach a very engaged community with their message.”

“I predict that these partnerships will grow and we’ll see more involvement in efforts to improve Indigenous’ women’s lives,” Joe concluded.

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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: lgroulx@nwac.ca

 

 

 

 

 

 

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NWAC Outlines How to Participate in the National Inquiry into MMIWG & Find Support

March 7, 2017 (Ottawa, ON) – Out of respect for the families and communities of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG), the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) has resisted relaying information on behalf of the Inquiry.  NWAC has been acting as an independent observer of the Inquiry since its official launch date on September 1st, 2017, and has released a report card detailing its progress.  As time elapses, NWAC feels a responsibility to share vital information regarding how families may participate and what that participation may look like.

It is the primary concern of NWAC that those who wish to participate in the Inquiry are aware that they will not be contacted by the Inquiry without their permission.  In order to extend an invitation to the Inquiry, communities have been directed to email the Inquiry at info@mmiwg-ffada.ca or via PO Box 500, Station A, Vancouver, BC, V6C 2N3.

“The Inquiry has not clarified who is able to invite them to visit their communities, so I encourage all forms of community organizations, leadership, families, and individuals to reach out if they are able to take part,” urged NWAC Interim President Francyne D. Joe.  “NWAC believes that the Inquiry will begin hearing testimonies in May of 2017 and that, given the short timeframe for that first portion of the Inquiry’s activities, northern, rural, and remote communities should extend the invitation as soon as possible so as to ensure their inclusion.  Every story is important and each interested community would be wise to start discussing what supports they will need to participate and ideas for how their community wishes their MMIWG to be honoured.”

It’s expected that the Inquiry will visit communities for a week at a time, creating a space for ceremony and respectful engagement.  The Commissioners will be present in teams of one or more, along with stenographers who will remain after the Commissioners depart.  “It’s important that families know that they can decide how they wish to testify and that, if they are for any reason unable to speak during the Commissioners’ visit, they can still participate,” added Joe.

NWAC would also like to direct families who need emotional support to call the government-funded 24/7 toll-free crisis line at 1-844-413-6649, with the understanding that their support workers are independent of the Inquiry and won’t have any additional information about it.  “The Inquiry has not released their intake process or how they will be applying a trauma-informed lens to their work,” informed Joe, “It is extremely important that no one feel alone or unable to share their feelings.  Indigenous women are loved and valued.”

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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: lgroulx@nwac.ca

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Over 100 Registrants for AWBEN Indigenous Women Entrepreneurs’ Conference

February 20, 2017 (Ottawa, ON) – The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) is pleased to announce that 116 Aboriginal women have now registered for the 4th annual Aboriginal Women’s Business Entrepreneurship (AWBEN) Conference.  Taking place in Thunder Bay, Ontario March 1st through March 2nd, 2017, participants will be challenged and empowered to explore and develop their entrepreneurial skills.

Funded by Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC) since 2012, the AWBEN program addresses the unique challenges facing Aboriginal women in starting their own businesses.  AWBEN promotes learning, growth, and networking in a culturally supportive environment, with a focus on sustainable initiatives driven by community leadership.

“AWBEN recognizes that Indigenous women bring unique skills, tenacity, and a strong point of view to the world of business,” observes NWAC Interim President Francyne D. Joe.  “Although there is only space for 100 registrants, this is a free event and not everyone who wants to attend will be able to make it.  I encourage all current and aspiring Aboriginal women entrepreneurs to register so that AWBEN can show the AANDC, the Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres (OFIFC), and other potential sources of funding that Indigenous women want and need programs that support and accelerate their careers.  I’d also like to thank event sponsors, Resolute Forest Products and the Bank of Montreal.”

The AWBEN Conference agenda for March 2nd features exciting panelists as well as keynote speakers Patrice Mousseau, Founder of Satya Organics, and actress Ashley Callingbull, Mrs. Universe 2015. “I hope to see a full room all as I make the opening address,” continued Ms. Joe, “this is a chance for Aboriginal women to get inspired, make connections, and exercise their skills alongside their peers.”

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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: lgroulx@nwac.ca

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CIHR Institute of Aboriginal Peoples’ Health Announces Dr. Carrie Bourassa as New Scientific Director

January 13, 2017 (Ottawa, ON) – The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) would like to congratulate Dr. Carrie Bourassa on her appointment as Scientific Director of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHRs) Institute of Aboriginal Peoples’ Health. Dr. Bourassa is a member of the Riel Métis Council of Regina Inc. (RMCR, Local #34), who earned her Master of Arts degree in political science and Ph.D. in social studies from the University of Regina.

Chair of Northern & Indigenous Health at the Health Sciences North Research Institute in Sudbury, Dr. Bourassa has worked for 15 years as a professor of Indigenous health studies at the First Nations University of Canada (FNUniv) in Regina. A member of the College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists of the Royal Society of Canada, and the Royal College Council of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, she was previously a member of the CIHR Institutes Advisory Board on Indigenous Peoples’ Health.

Dr. Bourassa will be a leader at CIHR in ensuring better success rates for Indigenous-focused grant applications and developing strategies to train the next generation of Indigenous researchers through capacity building and mentoring.

“Dr. Bourassa’s past work in raising awareness about the impacts of colonization on the health of Indigenous peoples and the need to deliver culturally safe care makes us confident that she will become a strong leader in working towards the health of Indigenous women and girls in Canada,” NWAC Interim President Francyne D. Joe commented.  “Given that Dr. Bourassa has successfully partnered with NWAC’s Pathways PEKE (Partners for Engagement and Knowledge Exchange) in the past, we are very excited to advance future partnerships with herself and the Institute of Aboriginal Peoples Health.”

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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
lgroulx@nwac.ca

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NWAC Releases Report Card on the National Inquiry into MMIWG

January 5, 2017 (Ottawa, ON) – The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) has released their official Report Card on the activities of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (Inquiry).  Drafted to reflect the success of the Inquiry in meeting its directives and mandates as it progresses, NWAC is employing this tool to provide the public with a comprehensive update and in an effort to participate in and actively impact the operations of the inquiry going forward.

“Families and loved ones of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) were discouraged by the lack of communication from the Inquiry following its official date of establishment on September 1st, 2016.  They deserved to have some communication about how and when they could expect to provide their testimonies,” began NWAC President Francyne D. Joe.  “NWAC wants to have a more active voice in constructing strategies that will protect participants at every step of this journey.  It is essential that the Inquiry be sensitive to the trauma experienced by those being interviewed, that those participants feel welcomed as allies, and that the MMIWG are honoured. Having worked with families and survivors, NWAC has experience and knowledge in this area. We recommend working directly with families in shaping how they will be meaningfully engaged in this process.”

The NWAC President commented further about the Report Card, which is to be released quarterly.  “We’ve been very vocal in our concerns regarding the lack of specific guidelines in the Terms of Reference (ToR) of the Inquiry.  The report card gives us a an opportunity to outline the ways in which the Inquiry is successfully implementing their broader ToRs in the areas we’ve found to be potentially problematic.  These include the identification of and actions to remove systemic causes of violence against Indigenous women and girls at a national and provincial level as well as the ability of participants to pursue or reopen individual cases through the justice system.”

“NWAC encourages the Inquiry to be as transparent as possible and to provide families with the resources necessary to access the Commission.  The intent of this Inquiry is not only to bring some semblance of peace to those close to the MMIWG but also to make every Canadian feel like they are taking part in reconciliation,” Joe concluded. “It is our report’s intent to make it accessible to everyone.”

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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: lgroulx@nwac.ca

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NWAC Presents on MMIWG Inquiry at IACHR Ahead of International Human Rights Day

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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CONTACT:

Lynne Groulx
Executive Director
1 Nicholas Street, 9th Floor
Ottawa, ON K1N 7B7
Toll-free 1-800-461-4043
Tel.: 613-722-3033
Email: lgroulx@nwac.ca

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NWAC Remains Resolved to End Violence Against Indigenous Women This National Day of Remembrance

December 6, 2016 (Ottawa, ON) – On December 6th, 1989, 14 women at the École Polytechnique in Montreal lost their lives at the hands of a lone gunman. Every year on this day, the nation recalls how the biased hatred of one man led to the senseless mass killing of innocent women. Sadly, this tragic event exposed the epidemic of gender-based violence in Canada.

“Today, we commemorate the women who were killed in Montreal for the sole fact that they were female students. It’s a day to consider our actions going forward but also a day to contemplate what we’ve accomplished so far,” reflected NWAC Interim President Francyne Joe.

In 2012, NWAC was gathering signatures demanding an inquiry into the missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, declaring it a “crucial step in implementing a comprehensive and coordinated national action plan to address the scale and severity of violence faced by Aboriginal women and girls.” In 2015, leadership expressed that NWAC was looking forward to working closely with the new government, continuing to consult with the families and survivors of those impacted, and taking action to end systemic violence against Indigenous women after the Liberal government announced that a national inquiry would be established.

“Looking back, I see that we haven’t come as far as we’d hoped. There was no justice delivered for the Indigenous women of Val-d’Or who were sexually assaulted and we once again need to establish an inquiry; this time in the province of Quebec,” began President Joe. “The National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls has failed to open the lines of communication with families or survivors of victims, we have limited involvement in the Inquiry, and we won’t begin to see movement from the Inquiry until the spring of 2017.”

“We will not be disheartened. We will continue to speak for victims suffering in silence, to root out systemic gender and race-based violence at the source by challenging problematic policies, and to engage in education initiatives that will prepare all youth to treat each other with dignity and respect,” Francyne concluded.

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:

Lynne Groulx
Executive Director
1 Nicholas Street, 9th Floor
Ottawa, ON K1N 7B7
Toll-free 1-800-461-4043
Tel.: 613-722-3033
Email: lgroulx@nwac.ca

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New NWAC Executive Director Focuses on Policy and Branding

December 5, 2016 (Ottawa, ON) – The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) is excited to welcome new Executive Director Lynne Groulx.  

A Métis woman with both civil and common law degrees from the University of Ottawa and a specialization in Indigenous law, Ms. Groulx is fresh from a senior position at the Canadian Human Rights Commission.  Lynne has already begun applying the guiding principles of corporate business to a non-profit organization with the aim of creating an organization that operates in a manner that is fiscally sound and transparent.  Her background in economic development, policy, and business law has provided her with ample scope in addressing the challenges ahead for an organization that must constantly adapt based on which financial resources are available and where political support is coming from.

“From what I’ve observed,” offered NWAC Interim President Francyne Joe, “Lynne is incredibly hard-working, decisive, and self-assured.  Lynne’s background in Law has a huge impact on the way she thinks.  She quickly identifies what needs to happen next and considers all possible outcomes.  Our individual roles and expectations within this organization are going to be more clearly defined and we’re going to be very responsive to our Board of Directors.  She’s very direct and positive.  I think this ripple effect is going to be felt at every level internally and certainly from the outside as we start taking stronger stances on the issues that affect us.”

In addition to emphasizing branding, marketing, and image, Lynne remains dedicated to NWAC’s core values.  “I’m bringing a business perspective to the way NWAC will operate but on a policy level, I’m thinking about individuals and the collective.  I want to help Indigenous women and their families and continue to be an advocate for human rights.”

Ottawa can expect to benefit directly from the new leadership at NWAC.  When asked where she sees NWAC in three years, Lynne divulges “I see us in a new home that’s welcoming to Indigenous women and reflective of the space we deserve.  I’m very impressed by the Wabano Centre for Aboriginal Health and envision the NWAC offices to be similarly designed to be mindful of the women who visit and respectful of Indigenous culture.”

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:

Lynne Groulx
Executive Director
1 Nicholas Street, 9th Floor
Ottawa, ON K1N 7B7
Toll-free 1-800-461-4043
Tel.: 613-722-3033
Email: lgroulx@nwac.ca

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NWAC Hosting Tracie Léoste & Amanda Rheaume at Free Live 16 Days Event

December 2, 2016 (Ottawa, ON) – For this year’s 16 Days of Activism to End Violence Against Women, The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) is proud to present “Voices in Honour: Ending Violence Against Indigenous Women & Girls.”  The event takes place Monday, December 5th at 5:30pm at the Jock-Turcot University Centre on the University of Ottawa campus.

Speaker Tracie Léoste is visiting from Regina, Saskatchewan to share her inspiration for running and advice for with those wishing to take action to help end violence against women.  A woman of Métis descent, Léoste ran an astounding 115 kilometres from Oak Point, Manitoba to The Forks in downtown Winnipeg to raise awareness for missing and murdered Indigenous women and raise funds for a not-for-profit organization designed to support the families of the missing and murdered in 2015. She was only 16 years old at the time.

Juno-nominated performer Amanda Rheaume identifies herself as Métis and often draws from her family history in weaving rich musical narratives. Her song ‘Red Dress’ is inspired by Métis artist Jaime Black’s REDress Project and brings attention to the high rates of gendered and racialized violent crimes against Aboriginal women occurring in Canada. Rheaume will play a short set that includes the powerful ‘Red Dress.’

NWAC hopes that this event will inspire attendees to take action and make a contribution to the movement to end violence against Indigenous women and, in solidarity, all women.  “We will bring awareness to the epidemic of violence against Indigenous women and pay tribute to the missing and murdered Indigenous women of Canada,” offered NWAC Executive Director Lynne Groulx.

“I’ve been honoured to speak at the 16 Days opening press conference and the ‘End Violence Against Women Now’ panel hosted by KAIROS,” NWAC President Francyne Joe commented.  “Violence against Indigenous women and girls is one of the core issues that NWAC is actively addressing and one that’s very personal to me.”

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:

Lynne Groulx
Executive Director
1 Nicholas Street, 9th Floor
Ottawa, ON K1N 7B7
Toll-free 1-800-461-4043
Tel.: 613-722-3033
Email: lgroulx@nwac.ca

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Dismissal of “Sixties Scoop” Class Action Suit Would Violate Spirit of Reconciliation

December 1, 2016 (Ottawa, ON) – The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) is surprised and greatly concerned with the federal government’s plan to press for the dismissal of the landmark lawsuit filed on behalf of thousands of Aboriginal children taken from their families during what is commonly referred to as the “Sixties Scoop.”

From December 1965 to December 1984, an estimated 16,000 Aboriginal children were removed from their homes and placed in non-Aboriginal homes.  Being torn from their support systems and cultural identities severely impacted these individuals, their communities, and future generations. The federal government ignored their obligation to consult with Aboriginal bands before proceeding in this matter, did not take actions to educate the children about their heritage post-adoption, or even initiate post-adoption reviews of the children’s safety.

The federal government’s stance regarding the lawsuit runs contrary to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s pledge to work towards full reconciliation with Canada’s Aboriginal peoples. The recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Report include providing both individual and collective reparations.  Beyond considering the physical, emotional, and psychological anguish of the plaintiffs, “States have an obligation to take effective measures…to make reparations where traditional knowledge or cultural rights have been violated.”

“If the Liberal government truly supports reconciliation, they must accept ownership and responsibility for the federal government’s role in the Sixties Scoop,” contributes NWAC president Francyne Joe.  “As a mother, it is heartbreaking to imagine the ordeal that these children and families have undergone. In cooperation with the spirit of reconciliation laid out by the Truth and Reconciliation Report, this damage must be formally acknowledged and this case must be tried.”

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:

Lynne Groulx
Executive Director
1 Nicholas Street, 9th Floor
Ottawa, ON K1N 7B7
Toll-free 1-800-461-4043
Tel.: 613-722-3033
Email: lgroulx@nwac.ca

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We Believe You; NWAC Stands With The Sisters of Val-d’Or at the Human Rights Monument Tuesday

November 21, 2016 (Ottawa, ON)  The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) is calling on all partners and concerned citizens to join them in recognizing the tragic outcome of the complaints filed by Indigenous women in Val-d’Or and other rural regions against members of the Quebec police force.  In support of these women and Quebec Native Women Inc. (QNW), this event is dedicated to raising awareness of systemic violence against Indigenous women, demonstrating support for the brave women who came forward with their allegations of abuse, and addressing the issue of police accountability.  

What: We Believe You; Standing With The Sisters of Val-d’Or

When: 6:00pm Tuesday, November 22nd, 2016

Where: The Human Rights Monument on Elgin Street, Ottawa, Ontario

After media attention was brought to a number of complaints regarding sexual violence and abuse of power by Quebec police officers in Val-d’Or and other rural regions in October of 2015, an investigation failed to produce any charges.  The Crown has cited a lack of evidence as the reason for this disappointing outcome.  

A recently released report by the United Nations (UN) has urged Canada to address the “continued high prevalence” of gender-based violence, with special regard to that against Indigenous women and girls.   A “very low” number of cases involving violence against women combined with low rates of prosecution and conviction against perpetrators are systemic failures identified by the UN as being specific to Canada. Failures to press charges after abuses are reported, as seen in Val-d’Or, are exemplary of why women aren’t coming forward.

“If you can’t go to police expecting to be protected, that’s going to lead to such despair and depression and anger … and disrupt any growing positive relationship with the policing system,” said NWAC President Francyne Joe on the subject of Val-d’Or and its greater scope.

NWAC will host speakers including NWAC President Francyne Joe and Executive Director Lynne Groulx .  A mirror event will be hosted by Quebec Native Women Inc. (QNW) in Montreal. Viviane Michel, President of Quebec Native Women, said this week “We issue a message to the Quebec population to believe these women.  Show these women, these victims, that there is someone, somewhere, who believes them.”

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:

Lynne Groulx
Executive Director
1 Nicholas Street, 9th Floor
Ottawa, ON K1N 7B7
Toll-free 1-800-461-4043
Tel.: 613-722-3033
Email: lgroulx@nwac.ca

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PRESS RELEASE: NWAC President Francyne Joe Represents Indigenous Women on Environment and Climate Change Panel

November 20, 2016 (Marrakech, MA) – Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) President Francyne Joe continues to represent the voice of First Nations women at the Marrakech Climate Change Conference in Morocco, the site of the 22nd Conference of the Parties (COP22) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Hosted by Minister of Environment and Climate Change Catherine McKenna, Francyne Joe spoke at Tuesday’s Environment and Climate Change panel Working Together: The Contributions of Indigenous Communities in Canada’s Climate Action.  Joe highlighted the role that Indigenous women have historically held as stewards of the land, passing down knowledge to future generations through ceremony and storytelling, and how the Indian Act has threatened these traditions.

As a vulnerable population who are dependent upon a close relationship with the land and the water, she described how indigenous women are the most likely to become “climate refugees” as the results of climate change like flooding deeply impact their communities.  Joe suggested that the most immediate contributions necessary include improvements to housing and infrastructure, emergency and contingency planning, and actions for providing food security and clean water.

“Consulting First Nations women before initiating intensive energy development projects such as oil and gas extraction, coal mining, and hydroelectric development is necessary to protect First Nations environments and reduce the risk of violence against women” Joe averred, referencing Amnesty International’s recently published report regarding how the resource extraction economy in northeast British Columbia negatively affects the rights of Indigenous peoples.

This year marked the first Climate Justice Day, a United Nations side event dedicated to recognizing the deep impact of climate change on Indigenous peoples, the relationship between climate change and human rights, and the urgent need for governments to consult with Indigenous communities about these issues.

“As representatives of Indigenous women and girls, NWAC recognizes that climate change is affecting the daily lives of Indigenous women, destroying communities, and forcing peoples to abandon cultural traditions that are so strongly tied to the land, water, plants, and animals,” Joe concluded.

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:

Lynne Groulx
Executive Director
1 Nicholas Street, 9th Floor
Ottawa, ON K1N 7B7
Toll-free 1-800-461-4043
Tel.: 613-722-3033
Email: lgroulx@nwac.ca

 

 

 

 

 

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PRESS RELEASE: Failure of Authorities to Press Charges Against Officers Accused of Sexual Abuse in Val-d’Or Exemplifies Systemic Violence Inflicted Upon Indigenous Women

November 16, 2016 (Ottawa, ON) – After  voicing their support of the brave Indigenous women of the Val d’Or region who came forward with their disturbing stories of abuse by Quebec police, it is with great sadness that the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) acknowledges that six of the officers under investigation will not be charged.  

Radio-Canada’s investigative program Enquête brought media attention to a number of complaints regarding abuse and sexual assault by police officers in the Val d’Or region in October of 2015.  After hearing that they weren’t alone in their dehumanizing and debasing experiences, more Indigenous women with similar stories of their mistreatment dating back as many as ten years stepped forward to generate a total of 37 complaints.  It’s the lack of evidence in those cases as well as more recent ones that the Crown prosecutors are citing as the reasons for not pressing charges against the officers who were allegedly involved.  

Now, the positive outcome of having so many women speak their truths and inspire others to do the same has become yet another story of the marginalization and disenfranchisement of Indigenous women.  Lack of faith in the authorities’ fair treatment of Indigenous people, fear of humiliation, and a culture of silence are vital pieces in the perpetual cycle of violence that Indigenous women experience.

“Our organization condemns all forms of violence against our mothers, daughters, sisters, aunties and grandmothers, and seeks to express our continued support of these and all brave survivors for whom justice has not been served,” says NWAC President Francyne Joe.  “This appallingly inadequate response to women’s cries for help in this unfolding of events exemplifies the need for an immediate address of the strained relationship between the authorities and First Nations, Inuit, and Métis even beyond the slow-moving inquiry into the Missing and Murdered 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:

Lynne Groulx
Executive Director
1 Nicholas Street, 9th Floor
Ottawa, ON K1N 7B7
Toll-free 1-800-461-4043
Tel.: 613-722-3033
Email: lgroulx@nwac.ca

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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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