(Ottawa, ON): Here in Canada on the formal invitation of the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC), Luis Almagro, Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), has a full agenda for his three-day visit in Canada. It is opportune that Mr. Almagro’s visit falls during the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, an annual international campaign that runs from November 25th to December 10th.
The OAS is establishing an expert panel following the findings of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. Mr. Almagro’s visit is designed to gain a first-hand perspective on the challenges faced by Canada’s Indigenous women, girls and gender-diverse people. His visit and tour to Indigenous communities also cements NWAC’s goal to develop international collaborative partnerships and seek the support of international human rights defenders to ensure implementation of the Inquiry’s 231 Calls for Justice. (This goal is one of 10 articulated in NWAC’s “10-point Action Plan” in response to the Inquiry.)
In honour of Mr. Almagro’s visit, NWAC is hosting the Honouring Indigenous Women Reception, where Mr. Almagro will meet community and political leaders, experts and academics to learn first-hand about Indigenous challenges. The reception, on Dec. 4, 6-9 pm, features a red dress display designed to bring attention on the thousands of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.
Thursday, Dec. 5, features a breakfast with Indigenous community advocates and leaders in Ottawa, prior to flying out to remote locations in northern Ontario. There, Mr. Almagro will be visiting the First Nations communities of Fort Albany, Kashechewan and Attawapiskat to see first-hand the safety, security, social and economic challenges of Indigenous rural and remote communities.
On Friday, Dec. 6, Mr. Almagro will hear individually from an impressive slate of Indigenous leaders and advocates to hear their perspectives. These include former commissioners of the MMIWG, Senator Lilian Dyck, a representative from the Officer of the Correctional Investigator and an expert on forced or coerced sterilization.
“Thousands of Indigenous women have gone missing or been murdered in Canada. The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) is committed to continuing our efforts for positive social, economic and legal change — to change the story for Canada’s Indigenous women, girls and gender-diverse people. We are pleased that the international human rights community recognizes the importance of eliminating gender-based violence and genocide among Indigenous communities. Mr. Almagro’s visit reinforces this importance and will help raise awareness of the crisis that has devastated Indigenous communities across our country,” says Lorraine Whitman, NWAC President.
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