(OTTAWA, February 10) – Officials of the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) met Tuesday with the Minister of Crown Indigenous Relations, as well as Elders, academics, international experts, and other federal and provincial guests to discuss ways to end the ongoing violence against Indigenous women, girls, and gender-diverse people. And one critical path forward is through NWAC’s new innovative service delivery model, the Resiliency Lodge.
Lynne Groulx, NWAC’s Chief Executive Officer, told the meeting about the new Resiliency Lodge that NWAC has created which is in part modelled on the Houses of Indigenous and Afro-American Women in Mexico.
Nelsy Ku Chay, who is the director of the Mexican houses, described how they have helped the Indigenous women in her country.
In addition to the Elders and Honourable Carolyn Bennett, The Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, the speakers included Antonia Urrejola Noguera, the Inter-American Commission’s Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous People, Pam Damoff, the Parliamentary Secretary for Indigenous Services Canada, and Fannie Lafontaine, a human rights expert and lawyer who teaches at Laval University in Quebec.
“It is my hope that will gain from these fresh perspectives the renewed energy and determination we need to see this challenge [of ending the killings] through to its end. Because impatience and frustration can dampen ambition,” Lorraine Whitman, the President of NWAC, told the gathering. “We can’t let that happen. Our cause is too great and there are too many lives that depend upon our success.”
Elder Grandmothers Roberta Oshkabewisens and Alma Brooks, who work with NWAC, explained that the Resiliency Lodge is place where they can provide counselling and healing to Indigenous women who have been emotionally traumatized by the violence that the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls determined to be a genocide.
The Resiliency Lodge is one of NWAC’s key responses to the Calls For Justice of the National Inquiry and is a an example of best practices in ending the murders and disappearances. Through ceremony and guidance from the Elders, the women who enter its calming doors and those who experience the program virtually, will experience culturally centred healing in a warm and welcoming place heavily decorated with the work of Indigenous artists.
The lodge, which recently received an injection of funding from the federal government, will also be used to deliver workshops to women in other parts of Canada, including healing through art expression.
It is not just a centre created to deal with trauma, but one that will include prevention. “The centre is a tangible expression of Indigenous women’s human right to live in safety,” said Ms. Groulx. “And it is a direct response to many of the National Inquiry’s Calls for Justice.”