“The road to reconciliation for Indigenous women in this country is not paved with hope, trust, or honesty.”
(OTTAWA, November 13) – The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) is shocked to learn it was excluded from yesterday’s Federal Provincial Territorial (FTP) government table, on the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).
NWAC has sent a letter, calling for an emergency meeting with federal Justice Minister David Lametti to raise its concerns and to ask for reassurances that any future meetings about the implementation of the UNDRIP will include invitations to NWAC to participate and speak at those meetings. (A copy of the letter is attached.)
“Failing to invite NWAC to this event is just another example of a broken promise to NWAC and the Indigenous women it serves and supports,” Lorraine Whitman, President of NWAC, wrote in a letter to the Justice Minister on Friday. “There is a long history of broken promises to Indigenous women in this country and it appears there is no change in sight,” wrote Ms. Whitman.
NWAC is the leading voice of Indigenous women in Canada, representing First Nations, Métis, Inuit women and girls as well 2SLGBTQQIA people in all parts of the country. The perspectives of Indigenous women must be heard on this issue. The NIOs invited to yesterday’s FPT meeting are organizations dominated and led by men.
Had Justice Canada set aside a seat for NWAC at yesterday’s table, Ms. Whitman would have shared the organization’s concerns about the UNDRIP Bill – not the least of which is the absence of any minimum requirement for government to consult Indigenous peoples on the development and implementation of an UNDRIP national action plan
Had NWAC been at the table, Ms. Whitman would have sought government reassurance that the 20-year timeframe envisaged in the Bill for tabling annual reports on the implementation of the UNDRIP national action plan would not be used an excuse of inaction and procrastination.
“Ironically, Article 22 of UNDRIP requires the government to pay particular attention to the special needs of Indigenous women, Elders, youth, children and persons with disabilities. By ignoring our voice at FPT meetings, you are breaching the government’s commitment to comply with the provisions of UNDRIP and its implementation,” wrote Ms. Whitman.
“At this point, the road to reconciliation for Indigenous women in this country is not paved with hope, trust, or honesty. Instead, it would appear it is reaching a dead end and there is no way forward unless the government is prepared to renew its relationship with us,” she wrote. “This means hearing our voices, allowing us to participate in meaningful discussions, and recognizing the importance of Indigenous women in Indigenous culture.”