OTTAWA – Lorraine Whitman, President of the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC), will appear Friday before the Commons Standing Committee on Indigenous and Northern Affairs, via teleconference, to discuss the government’s response to COVID-19 and the effect of the disease on Indigenous women in Canada.
She has also been asked to participate, later in the day, in a National Online Discussion organized by the office of Carolyn Bennett, the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, to discuss violence against Indigenous women and girls and the government’s response to the National Inquiry whose Calls For Justice were released nearly a year ago.
NWAC believes the two issues are intrinsically linked, and that the global pandemic is creating conditions that put Indigenous women at even greater risk as they wait for the government to take action to reduce the violence.
The Minister promised late last year that a National Action Plan responding to the Inquiry’s report would be released in June 2020.
NWAC welcomes the opportunity to speak to the Commons committee. Ms. Whitman will outline some of the findings of a needs assessment NWAC conducted with its provincial and territorial member associations to assess the impact of the disease on Indigenous women. It paints a frightening picture.
NWAC also welcomes opportunity to attend a Zoom meeting with Indigenous stakeholders to learn what progress the government is making toward the creation of a National Action Plan.
At the same time, it is disappointed to learn that the plan will not be released on June 3, the first anniversary of the release of the Inquiry report, and is frustrated that so little had been done over the past 12 months.
To assist the government in moving forward, NWAC has offered a few important recommendations that could be taken as first steps toward addressing the violence – steps that will allow Indigenous women to take a leadership role in saving the lives of their sisters – and holds out hope that Minister Bennett will keep her promise to release the plan before the end of June.
The committee meeting begins at 2 pm and can be watched via videoconference. Ms. Whitman’s speaking notes will be made available to reporters upon request.
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