NWAC is actively working to grow its international reputation and to make connections with Indigenous women, girls, gender diverse people and their communities and organizations worldwide. NWAC has made it a priority to strengthen its engagement with different international entities at the United Nations and regional levels to advocate for Indigenous women’s rights.
“The Declaration is the most far-reaching comprehensive instrument concerning Indigenous peoples, elaborated and approved as a result of a process of nearly three decades of active engagement of indigenous leaders within the United Nations (UN) system. Since its adoption, by the General Assembly, on 13 September 2007, it has been overwhelmingly recognized as reflecting a global consensus on the rights of indigenous peoples, individually and collectively.”
– Human Rights Council, Expert Mechanisms on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Tenth Session, “Ten years of the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples: good practices and lessons learned – 2007 – 2017.”
In February 2019, the Native Women’s Association of Canada signed the Canada – NWAC Accord. The Accord formally recognizes that NWAC’s participation in international events can contribute to global advocacy efforts aimed at advancing the rights of Indigenous women, girls and gender diverse people. This recognition enables NWAC to draw attention to the situation of Indigenous women, girls and gender diverse people in Canada, and forge links with other Indigenous human rights activists and movements across the globe. The Accord formally acknowledges that such international cross-border and inter-community exchanges provide invaluable opportunities to share knowledge and experience, and to build solidarity among Indigenous human rights actors.
NWAC’s international engagement remains an effective way of voicing domestic human rights concerns to the outside world, especially through the United Nations and International human rights systems. NWAC regularly participates in various international events to ensure Indigenous voices in Canada are heard in relevant discussions at all levels. Such meetings include the UN Commission on the Status of Women, UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues and the UN Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
NWAC strives to engage with other key UN human rights organizations. This includes the Human Rights Council, specific treaty bodies, and relevant special procedures, which NWAC interacts regarding several human rights issues. At the regional human rights level, NWAC increasingly works with key institutions and expert mechanisms of the Organization of American States and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe.
The various human rights instruments emerging from the UN also represent powerful advocacy tools for influencing policy and legal developments at the domestic Canadian level. The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) is a key example. NWAC’s international work therefore draws heavily on invaluable UN and International human rights resources with the intention to apply them domestically.
- NWAC is urging Canada to implement key human rights recommendations emerging from the UN and International human rights systems with the goal to enhance, promote and foster the social, economic, cultural and political wellbeing of Indigenous women, girls and gender diverse people at the national level.
- Canada should take direct steps to implement UNDRIP in the form of Bill C-262. Its implementation should include meaningful engagement with NWAC to promote grassroots Indigenous perspectives and ensure their voices are heard.
- Following the signing of the Accord with NWAC, Canada should practice international human rights reporting processes, specifically on issues relating to Indigenous women, girls and gender diverse people.