NWAC DISMAYED WITH ONGOING ISSUES AT NATIONAL INQUIRY

OTTAWA, ON – January 11, 2018

The Native Women’s Association of Canada was shocked and outraged to learn today that Debbie Reid, Executive Director of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls has resigned.

First and foremost, our thoughts are with survivors of violence and with the families of the missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls who are again having to endure very upsetting news from the Inquiry.  These families have faced insurmountable obstacles coming to terms with personal tragedy; this resignation creates instability and a further setback at the National Inquiry.

In the second of two report cards issued by NWAC in 2017 on the status of the National Inquiry, it gave failing grades in almost all key areas.  NWAC made definitive recommendations to improve communications, transparency and most other areas of the Inquiry.  These recommendations were made in hopes of bringing the direction of the Inquiry to a more successful pathway.  The continued lack of communication with families and with NWAC points out the operational issues at the National Inquiry.  NWAC is deeply concerned that the ongoing operational failures will damage what remaining trust and belief families may still have in the inquiry.

NWAC strongly believes that in order for the National Inquiry to be a success, it must re-examine its administrative issues and operations.   Most importantly, survivors and families of the missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls must come first.  These families are left in the dark and are learning the on-goings of the inquiry through sporadic and at times anecdotal communications. It is imperative that the National Inquiry’s leaders implement a clear and robust strategy for transparent communication to benefit families and achieve a successful outcome.30 –
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For more information, please contact:

Lynne Groulx
Executive Director
613-722-3033  X223
1-800-461-4043  EMAIL

 

Joël Lamoureux
Media Relations Officer
613-722-3033 X100
1-800-461-4043  EMAIL

 

 

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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 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 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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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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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: NWAC Meets With Ministers And Leaders At Newly Formed FPTIF

June 10, 2016 – A delegation from the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) met with ministers and leaders from all across Canada at the newly formed Federal, Provincial, Territorial, and Indigenous Forum (FPTIF) meeting in Ottawa on June 9-10, 2016. The FPTIF consists of leaders from the five National Aboriginal Organizations (NAO) namely the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC), the Indigenous People’s Assembly of Canada (IPAC), the Assembly of First Nations (AFN), the Métis National Council (MNC), as well as the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK), joined by the provincial/territorial ministers responsible for Indigenous/Aboriginal Affairs, and the federal minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs.

“The Native Women’s Association of Canada is pleased that the newly formed Federal Provincial Territorial Indigenous Forum (FPTIF) will advance and address the multitude of issues and challenges that Indigenous Women and Girls face in Canada.  NWAC also believes the FPTIF partnership will provide a link to address in a timely fashion the emerging and existing inequities and violations that will surface from the testimony in a National Inquiry. I am very optimistic we are on a path to reconciliation and that Indigenous Women and Girls voices will be heard and respected as we move forward together,” President Lavell-Harvard said during the FPTIF meeting’s opening remarks.

The Federal, Provincial, Territorial, Indigenous Forum Meeting 2016
The Federal, Provincial, Territorial, Indigenous Forum Meeting 2016
Ministers and Leaders of FPTIF Meeting 2016
Ministers and Leaders of FPTIF Meeting 2016

In the spirit of reconciliation and collaboration, the FPTIF, which replaces the Aboriginal Affairs Working Group (AAWG), discussed the 94 Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), the principles of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), child and family services and the Jordan’s Principle, engagement of Indigenous youth, the action plan to address and prevent the gendered and sexual violence against Indigenous Women and Girls, and cooperation on the process of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.

The FPTIF will meet annually in order to provide national leadership, strong cross-jurisdictional and multilateral partnership and collaboration, and inclusive, culturally and regionally relevant cooperation to ensure the elimination of the systemic, socio-economic, political, cultural, and gendered barriers preventing Indigenous Peoples’ prosperity and happiness.

 

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
Acting Executive Director
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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Outcomes from the 2nd Annual National Roundtable on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls

COMMUNIQUE – OUTCOMES & PRIORITIES FOR ACTION TO ADDRESS VIOLENCE AGAINST INDIGENOUS WOMEN AND GIRLS

(February 26, 2016) (Winnipeg, MB): Inuit, Métis, and First Nations leaders, families of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls (MMIWG), Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, federal, provincial and territorial Ministers today committed to ongoing urgent and coordinated action to prevent and address violence against Indigenous women and girls, and to continue this work during the National Inquiry on MMIWG.

The group met today in Winnipeg for the 2016 National Roundtable on MMIWG hosted by Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger, and agreed to action-based collaboration outlined in the document: ‘2016 National Roundtable on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls: Outcomes and Priorities for Action to Prevent and Address Violence Against Indigenous Women and Girls’. This roadmap document provides governments with 20 priorities for action in three theme areas: prevention and awareness; community safety; and culturally relevant policing measures and justice responses, and builds on commitments of the 2015 Roundtable held in Ottawa.

Participants of the 2016 National Roundtable agreed to work with families and local partners to:

• Continue with coordinated collaboration and action to prevent and address violence against Indigenous women and girls during the National Inquiry on MMIWG.

• The importance of a national inquiry on MMIWG, with federal, provincial and territorial governments committing to participation and full cooperation in the process.

• Build on the current Aboriginal Affairs Working Group to include the federal government as a co-Chair, with time dedicated to MMIWG issues including the ongoing coordination of efforts, monitoring progress, and identifying priorities for action, including appropriate F/P/T Ministers.

• Supporting the development of Indigenous-led cultural competency, anti-racism and anti-sexism training programs for all public servants across governments, police and the justice system to include components focused on Indigenous history, impacts of policies, legislation and historical trauma.

• Create and implement a set of common performance measures to assess progress toward addressing and reducing the socio-economic gaps experienced by Indigenous peoples.

• Work collaboratively to improve communication and coordination between Indigenous families and: communities; victim services; policing; prosecutions; women’s groups; anti-violence groups; and shelter workers.

• Implement the proposed Canada-wide prevention and awareness campaign focused on changing public perception and attitudes to help end violence against Indigenous women and girls.

Highlights:

Families of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls met with participants of the 2016 National Roundtable at a separate gathering yesterday to discuss directly with provincial and territorial leaders their recommendations for achieving justice and ending violence.

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne provided an update on the Canada-wide prevention and awareness campaign committed to at the 2015 National Roundtable.

Alberta Indigenous Relations Minister Richard Feehan shared an update on work underway through the Aboriginal Affairs Working Group to develop a socio-economic action plan for Aboriginal women. The plan will present a comprehensive account of the challenges and barriers that adversely impact socio-economic outcomes for Aboriginal women. It will share best practices and identify collaborative means to improve socio-economic outcomes of Aboriginal women.

Federal Ministers Jody Wilson-Raybould, Dr. Carolyn Bennett and Patty Hajdu provided an update on the engagement process and planning for a National Inquiry on missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. Participants shared their support for a National Inquiry and views on how to best engage and reflect regional interests and perspectives.

All participants want to acknowledge the excellent work accomplished at the 2016 Justice Practitioners’ Summit, and will work to examine all of the recommendations contained within the report. The Summit gathered together nearly two hundred participants from across Canada representing experts and practitioners in three key sectors: victim services; policing; and prosecutions.

Roundtable participants expressed support for ongoing efforts among all governments and organizations engaged in ending violence against Indigenous women and girls.

Quick Facts:

• Violence against Indigenous women and girls is systemic and a national crisis that requires urgent, informed and collaborative action.

• Indigenous women are three times more likely than non-Indigenous women to be victim of violence.

• Current public data on MMIWG oversimplifies and underrepresents the scale of the issue, yet still demonstrates a complex and pervasive pattern of violence against Indigenous women and girls who are often targeted because of their gender and Indigenous identity.

• While there have been a number of reports stating numbers are significantly higher, the 2014 RCMP Operational Overview notes that police recorded 1,017 incidents of Aboriginal female homicides between 1980 and 2012 and 164 missing Aboriginal female investigations dating back to 1952.

• From 2001 to 2014 the average rate of homicides involving Indigenous female victims was four times higher than that of homicides involving non-Indigenous female victims.

• Indigenous women make up 16% of all female homicide victims, and 11% of missing women, even though Indigenous people make up 4.3% of the population of Canada.

2016 National Roundtable on MMIWG participants included families of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, federal Ministers of Justice, Indigenous Affairs and Status of Women, provincial and territorial Ministers, Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde, Congress of Aboriginal Peoples National Chief Dwight Dorey, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami President Natan Obed, Métis National Council President Clément Chartier, Native Women’s Association of Canada President Dawn Lavell-Harvard, Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada President Rebecca Kudloo, Les Femmes Michif Otipemisiwak / Women of the Métis Nation President Melanie Omeniho.

A full list of participants to the 2016 National Roundtable on MMIWG is attached.

 

Quotes:
Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada The Hon. Jody Wilson-Raybould: “A priority for our Government is to create a pathway for substantive and true reconciliation and a renewed relationship with Indigenous Peoples in this country – how we address Indigenous issues in this country will be the lasting legacy of our government. Many of the women and girls who are missing or murdered are certainly victims of crime, but the issues extend well beyond our criminal-justice system, and we must look at the root causes of this tragedy. Our commitments to assess our progress in reducing the social and economic inequalities in Indigenous communities, and to improve communication between Indigenous communities, victim services, policing and prosecutions, will represent important first steps in healing that relationship.”

Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada The Hon. Dr. Carolyn Bennett: “Today the Government of Canada joined families, Indigenous organizations, provinces and territories and made real progress by committing to a much needed national inquiry. With provincial and territorial support, a national inquiry can look at many of the critical issues under their jurisdiction, such as child welfare and policing. I would like to thank all the families, survivors, and elders for their input which will continue to be essential in designing the best possible inquiry. We are determined to do this right, to honour the spirits and memories of those we have lost, and to protect future generations.”

Minister of Status of Women The Hon. Patty Hajdu: “Violence against Indigenous women and girls will not stop on its own – it will take the collective effort of governments, organizations and individuals to prevent future tragedies from happening. This roundtable is an important opportunity to explore solutions and to pledge – as a country – to work together to empower Indigenous women and girls and ensure their safety now and in the future.”

Premier of Manitoba Greg Selinger: “On behalf of all Manitobans, I’m honoured to have hosted this second roundtable on missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. I’m truly humbled by the stories I have heard here, and by the level of commitment demonstrated by participating leaders. These stories of pain and trauma are difficult to hear just as it’s difficult for those families to share their stories, but this is an important part of reconciliation. It’s important for us to listen to these painful experiences because it will inform and enlighten the work we do going forward to ensure safety and security for Indigenous women and girls The violence they have been subjected to is intolerable, and I feel confident this roundtable will inspire leadership at all levels to work collectively to end it for good.”

Premier of Ontario Kathleen Wynne: “The high number of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls is unacceptable. It’s time to work together to take meaningful steps toward making Canada a safer place for all Indigenous women and girls. The National Roundtable helped us make progress on a number of key initiatives, including developing a Canada-wide campaign that will promote awareness of the issue. I’m pleased that Ontario is taking a leadership role in developing this campaign — creating awareness is the first step toward resolving this crisis.”

Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde: “The commitments made by government representatives today are welcome but action on the ground is crucial. Words must lead to results. We will continue to press at every level for action that achieves safety and security for Indigenous women, girls and families.”

Assembly of First Nations Regional Chief Shane Gottfriedson: “Efforts to prevent and address violence against Indigenous women and girls do not start and should not end with a National Inquiry. Today is an example of political commitment, and now we must see that commitment turn into action. We cannot wait until the end of an inquiry to see results on the ground. There are efforts we can make now to better ensure the safety of our most vulnerable.”

Congress of Aboriginal Peoples National Chief Dwight Dorey: “I was extremely pleased with the level of commitment and collaboration demonstrated this week during our discussions with all Indigenous, federal, provincial, and territorial leaders at the National Roundtable on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. We must move quickly and decisively to prevent and reduce the unacceptable level of violence that many Indigenous women and girls have endured for far too long – I’m confident these discussions were a significant step forward and will produce results.”

Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami President Natan Obed: “Today we have recognized that it is within our power, as representatives of governments and organizations, and as Canadians, to end the cycle of violence against Indigenous women and girls. We have determined that it must end with us. Now, we must follow through on the actions we have agreed to undertake together and make them a priority in every aspect of our work and our lives.”

Métis National Council President Clément Chartier: “The Métis Nation welcomes concerted action by all jurisdictions to deal with violence against Indigenous women and girls. Our governments and communities work tirelessly to improve the lives of our people and require active and ongoing support in their endeavours to achieve community safety and security. An action plan built on real commitment of all jurisdictions is essential to the effectiveness of the measures they put in place to protect lives and create opportunities.”

Les Femmes Michif Otipemisiwak / Women of the Métis Nation President Melanie Omeniho: “Les Femmes Michif Otipemiswaké Women of the Metis Nation is very proud of some of the major commitments that have been made by some of our various governments across the country. With their supports we truly hope we can continue to work together to see the statistics change and that our Metis women and girls can feel free and valued as part of society.”

Native Women’s Association of Canada President Dawn Lavell-Harvard: “The united front we have established here in Canada on violence against Indigenous women and girls is a powerful one. From coast to coast to coast, from NAOs to elected provincial and federal leaders – a chorus of unity has emerged. Violence against Indigenous women and girls will not be tolerated. Coordinated national action is imperative. It is our hope at the Native Women’s Association of Canada that this year’s Roundtable will provide a solid foundation for the next phase of the national inquiry. This crisis must be addressed effectively in order to begin to reverse the cycle of violence against our sisters. We have only one chance to get this right – and we must remain vigilant.”

Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada President Rebecca Kudloo: “We will no doubt learn from the inquiry, but we already know a great deal about what is needed to prevent violence and abuse in our communities. I welcome the commitments made today by the provinces and territories to work together to coordinate action during the course of the national inquiry.”

Alberta Minister of Indigenous Relations The Hon. Richard Feehan: “I’m proud to represent Alberta as part of this national roundtable that brings together the hearts and minds of Indigenous families, Indigenous leaders, and government representatives. This forum is a place where we can listen and learn, and where we can work together on actions to eliminate violence against Indigenous women and girls.”

British Columbia’s Attorney General and Minister of Justice The Hon. Suzanne Anton: “Ensuring the safety of Indigenous women and girls is one of the defining issues of our time. Discussions today were focused on measurable actions to affect change in our society. In B.C., we believe that engaging families about this important issue is critical to success. This engagement will inform our work moving forward, including B.C.’s input into the upcoming National Inquiry. Recognizing there is still much to be done, our government is determined to make meaningful progress with our colleagues across the country for the safety and security of Indigenous women and girls.”

New Brunswick Minister Responsible for the Aboriginal Affairs Secretariat The Hon. Dr. Ed. Doherty M.D.: “This is an important opportunity to stimulate discussion and collaboration in moving forward with the issue of missing and murdered Aboriginal women and girls in Canada. We are pleased to participate in the Roundtable again this year, and to work together to create the conditions to improve the quality of life for Aboriginal women and girls in New Brunswick and across the country.”

Newfoundland and Labrador Minister of Justice and Public Safety and Attorney General The Hon. Andrew Parsons: “The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador looks forward to working with the Government of Canada, other provinces and territories and national Aboriginal organizations on a National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. We remain committed to eliminating all forms of violence against this vulnerable group and our ultimate goal is for safer communities and a safer country for all Canadians.”

Northwest Territories Minister Responsible for the Status of Women The Hon. Caroline Cochrane: “The Northwest Territories remains committed in this work and to the principle that the best results are achieved through collaboration, particularly with the people most directly affected by the issue and the governments and organizations that represent them. The Roundtable has been an important opportunity for that kind of collaboration and we must continue to work on the issue of missing and murdered indigenous women and girls with all our partners.”

Nova Scotia Minister of Community Services and Status of Women The Hon. Joanne Bernard: “I am honoured to have the opportunity to continue to be engaged in this important collaborative work. I am hopeful that our decisions today will ensure that all Canadians will become more engaged and aware as we move to address the disproportionate rates of missing and murdered indigenous women and girls. I am particularly pleased and hopeful on the commitment of ongoing conversations centred on child welfare”

Nunavut Minister responsible for the Status of Women The Hon. Monica Ell-Kanayuk: “The struggle of our First Nations, Métis and Inuit women and girls can no longer be overlooked. The 2nd National Roundtable on MMIWG has strengthened our shared commitment to move forward as Canadians to end this tragedy. Violence against Indigenous women is at the very core, and we commit to finding solutions to support victims, strengthen awareness and find solutions to curb this crisis.”

Prince Edward Island Minister of Transportation, Infrastructure and Energy and Minister Responsible for the Status of Women The Hon. Paula Biggar: “I was deeply touched by the honesty and courage of the family members who shared their experiences with us. These stories will guide and inspire our work as we continue to act collaboratively on the elimination of violence against Indigenous women and girls. Together we can break the cycle of violence and begin a journey of healing and reconciliation.”

Quebec Minister responsible for Native Affairs Geoffrey Kelley: Considerable efforts have already been made on the wide variety of issues that arise from violence against Indigenous women with First Nations organizations in Québec, but we are always working to do more. We are convinced that solutions will come by working together with all levels of government, Native leaders and communities. Our presence here today precisely reflects our willingness to collaborate with our colleagues from other provinces and territories as well as the federal government to share our resources and our experiences so as to end violence against Indigenous women and girls, which is our ultimate shared goal.”

Saskatchewan Minister of Justice and Attorney General The Hon. Gordon Wyant: “The National Roundtable has provided an excellent opportunity to collaborate with my colleagues and national Aboriginal organization representatives on the actions needed to make Canada a safer place for Indigenous women and girls. Significant steps have been taken through this and other forums over the last year, such as the release of the final Federal Provincial Territorial Justice and Public Safety Framework on Addressing Violence against Indigenous Women and Girls, the Justice Summit in Winnipeg and the federal government’s engagement on the National Inquiry into Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls.”

Yukon Deputy Premier and Minister Responsible for Women’s Directorate Elaine Taylor: “Our delegation brings a strong and united voice in support of the families of Yukon’s missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls,” Deputy Premier Elaine Taylor said. “As leaders, we are committed to addressing violence against Indigenous women and girls, and to taking collaborative action to address this important issue on the territorial as well as national level. Should there be an interest to hold a third National Roundtable, Yukon would be willing to host.

 

ACCESS FULL 2016 ROUNDTABLE OUTCOME DOCUMENT HERE

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NWAC Stands with Downtown Eastside Today During 26th Annual Women’s Memorial March

NWAC Stands with Downtown Eastside Today During 26th Annual Women’s Memorial March


(February 14, 2016) (Ottawa, ON/Vancouver, BC)
― Today, for the 26th consecutive year, the Annual Women’s Memorial March for missing and murdered Indigenous women took place on Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. This march is held to honour the memory of all those who have died due to physical, mental, emotional and spiritual violence in the region.

The Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, British Columbia has seen some of the most horrific violence against Indigenous women and girls in the country. As a result of police inaction, racism, sexism, poverty and socio-economic structures which continue to disproportionately disadvantage Indigenous women and girls, the Downtown Eastside has seen more than 100 Indigenous women murdered. This is unacceptable.

Dawn Lavell-Harvard, President of the Native Women’s Association of Canada, says: “Twenty-six years ago, rather than succumbing to grief, grassroots feminist activists boldly took to the streets to honour these stolen sisters from the Downtown Eastside. Today, we will continue to march on in a way that only Indigenous women can. NWAC is proud to stand with you. Thank you for your unwavering grace and strength amid this sorrow. My heart is with you.”

Nikki Fraser, Western Youth Representative for the Native Women’s Association of Canada, says: “Today, both here in BC and across Canada, we must look to our Elders and our traditions, and refocus our efforts to end violence against our sisters. We must ensure that our daughters do not have to witness these tragedies reoccur.”

NWAC will continue to put pressure on the federal government to ensure the forthcoming national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women provides healing and justice to every region of this country where families are touched by these tragedies – the Downtown Eastside included.

NWAC’s thoughts and prayers are with the families (both within and beyond bloodlines) yearning for peace and reconciliation amid these tragedies. We hope that your hearts might know peace today. Together – we will achieve justice.

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 Nations, Métis and Canadian societies. As a national organization representing Indigenous women since 1974, NWAC’s mandate is to achieve equality for all Indigenous women in Canada.

 
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For more information or for media inquiries:

Jenn Jefferys
Communications Officer
Native Women’s Association of Canada
+1 613-485-1988 (cell)
jjefferys@nwac.ca

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NWAC Stands with La Loche Community School in Wake of January 22 Shooting

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

 

NWAC Stands with La Loche Community
School in Wake of January 22 Shooting


(January 22, 2016) (Ottawa, ON) ― The Native Women’s Association of Canada is heartbroken to hear of the horrific shooting that took place at La Loche Community School in the small and primarily Indigenous community of La Loche, Saskatchewan earlier today.

Though details on this tragedy are still developing, our regional members are doing everything in their power on the ground in Saskatchewan to provide support to those impacted.

NWAC confers that now is a time to come together and refocus our efforts, nation-to-nation, to end violence in all its forms. We wish to send all of our love and support to Northern Saskatchewan in this incredibly difficult time.

Quotes

“I want to let the families know that we are out here and prepared to help and support you in any way we can. We are here for you.”
– Elder West Board Member & Regional Director for Violence Prevention & Safety, Judy Hughes (Saskatchewan)

“Tonight, I ask you to pray for our sisters and brothers in La Loche. On behalf of our entire board and staff across Canada, we stand with you.”
– NWAC President, Dawn Lavell-Harvard (Ottawa)


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. To make a donation to NWAC, please visit nwac.ca.

 

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For more information and for media inquiries:

Jenn Jefferys – Communications Officer
Native Women’s Association of Canada
+1 613-656-3016 ext. 235  |  +1 613-485-1988 (cell)
jjefferys@nwac.ca

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MEDIA ADVISORY: Indigenous Women, Allies and International Human Rights Experts Gather to Strategize National Inquiry into MMIWG

 

MEDIA ADVISORY

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Invitation to a Meeting with Ministers to design an Inquiry on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls ― January 5th and January 6th, 2016 in Thunder Bay, Ontario

Dear Survivors, Families and Loved Ones:

On December 8 2015, the Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada, Carolyn Bennett, the Minister of the Status of Women, Patty Hajdu, and the Minister of Justice, Jody Wilson-Raybould, announced the launch of a National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.

In the first phase of the pre-inquiry design process, we want to hear directly from you on how to design an Inquiry that will result in concrete recommendations to work towards ending violence against Indigenous women and girls.

On Wednesday, January 6, 2016, the Minister of the Status of Women, Patty Hajdu, and Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada, Carolyn Bennett, are holding a meeting in Thunder Bay, Ontario with survivors, families and loved ones of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.

This event will be held over two days on January 5 and 6, 2016. On January 5, 2016, survivors, families and loved ones will register with our staff and are then encouraged to attend either an afternoon or evening orientation session.

During the orientation, participants will meet each other, share stories and learn more about the process, agenda and what Ministers will be looking for from participants at the January 6, 2016 session.

At the orientation session, we will discuss the kind of information needed from participants in order to inform an inquiry process which is inclusive, respectful and delivers concrete recommendations to prevent violence against Indigenous women and girls.

____________________________

January 5, 2016

Registration:
1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Orientation sessions:
Session I) 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Session II) 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
____________________________

January 6, 2016

Pre-inquiry design process discussion meeting:
9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
____________________________

If you would like to come to these meetings, please inform the MMIWG Pre-Inquiry Secretariat by 5 p.m. Eastern time on January 4, 2016 by calling or emailing either:

Lauren Peirce 1-613-404-5127, LaurenCaroline.Peirce@aandc-aadnc.gc.ca or Cleo Big Eagle at 1-819-635-7332, Cleo.Bigeagle@aandc-aadnc.gc.ca at Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada.

Please let them know if you need help with travel, hotel rooms, translation or childcare.

We realize these meetings deal with topics that may cause trauma to participants due to their troubling subject matter. A toll-free crisis line is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at: 1-844-413-6649 for anyone who needs help or support.

If you are unable to attend the meeting in person, you may use our website after January 4, 2016 to make a submission on-line, by phone, or regular mail.

For more information, please visit the MMIWG Inquiry website:http://www.aadnc-aandc.gc.ca/eng/1448633299414/1448633350146

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