PRESS RELEASE: NWAC President Francyne Joe Represents Indigenous Women on Environment and Climate Change Panel

November 20, 2016 (Marrakech, MA) – Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) President Francyne Joe continues to represent the voice of First Nations women at the Marrakech Climate Change Conference in Morocco, the site of the 22nd Conference of the Parties (COP22) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Hosted by Minister of Environment and Climate Change Catherine McKenna, Francyne Joe spoke at Tuesday’s Environment and Climate Change panel Working Together: The Contributions of Indigenous Communities in Canada’s Climate Action.  Joe highlighted the role that Indigenous women have historically held as stewards of the land, passing down knowledge to future generations through ceremony and storytelling, and how the Indian Act has threatened these traditions.

As a vulnerable population who are dependent upon a close relationship with the land and the water, she described how indigenous women are the most likely to become “climate refugees” as the results of climate change like flooding deeply impact their communities.  Joe suggested that the most immediate contributions necessary include improvements to housing and infrastructure, emergency and contingency planning, and actions for providing food security and clean water.

“Consulting First Nations women before initiating intensive energy development projects such as oil and gas extraction, coal mining, and hydroelectric development is necessary to protect First Nations environments and reduce the risk of violence against women” Joe averred, referencing Amnesty International’s recently published report regarding how the resource extraction economy in northeast British Columbia negatively affects the rights of Indigenous peoples.

This year marked the first Climate Justice Day, a United Nations side event dedicated to recognizing the deep impact of climate change on Indigenous peoples, the relationship between climate change and human rights, and the urgent need for governments to consult with Indigenous communities about these issues.

“As representatives of Indigenous women and girls, NWAC recognizes that climate change is affecting the daily lives of Indigenous women, destroying communities, and forcing peoples to abandon cultural traditions that are so strongly tied to the land, water, plants, and animals,” Joe concluded.

The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) is founded on the collective goal to enhance, promote, and foster the social, economic, cultural and political well-being of First Nations and Métis women within First Nation, Métis and Canadian societies.  As a national organization representing Aboriginal women since 1974, NWAC’s mandate is to achieve equality for all Aboriginal women in Canada.

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CONTACT:

Lynne Groulx
Executive Director
1 Nicholas Street, 9th Floor
Ottawa, ON K1N 7B7
Toll-free 1-800-461-4043
Tel.: 613-722-3033
Email: lgroulx@nwac.ca

 

 

 

 

 

PRESS RELEASE: Failure of Authorities to Press Charges Against Officers Accused of Sexual Abuse in Val-d’Or Exemplifies Systemic Violence Inflicted Upon Indigenous Women

November 16, 2016 (Ottawa, ON) – After  voicing their support of the brave Indigenous women of the Val d’Or region who came forward with their disturbing stories of abuse by Quebec police, it is with great sadness that the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) acknowledges that six of the officers under investigation will not be charged.  

Radio-Canada’s investigative program Enquête brought media attention to a number of complaints regarding abuse and sexual assault by police officers in the Val d’Or region in October of 2015.  After hearing that they weren’t alone in their dehumanizing and debasing experiences, more Indigenous women with similar stories of their mistreatment dating back as many as ten years stepped forward to generate a total of 37 complaints.  It’s the lack of evidence in those cases as well as more recent ones that the Crown prosecutors are citing as the reasons for not pressing charges against the officers who were allegedly involved.  

Now, the positive outcome of having so many women speak their truths and inspire others to do the same has become yet another story of the marginalization and disenfranchisement of Indigenous women.  Lack of faith in the authorities’ fair treatment of Indigenous people, fear of humiliation, and a culture of silence are vital pieces in the perpetual cycle of violence that Indigenous women experience.

“Our organization condemns all forms of violence against our mothers, daughters, sisters, aunties and grandmothers, and seeks to express our continued support of these and all brave survivors for whom justice has not been served,” says NWAC President Francyne Joe.  “This appallingly inadequate response to women’s cries for help in this unfolding of events exemplifies the need for an immediate address of the strained relationship between the authorities and First Nations, Inuit, and Métis even beyond the slow-moving inquiry into the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.”

The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) is founded on the collective goal to enhance, promote, and foster the social, economic, cultural and political well-being of First Nations and Métis women within First Nation, Métis and Canadian societies.  As a national organization representing Aboriginal women since 1974, NWAC’s mandate is to achieve equality for all Aboriginal women in Canada.

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CONTACT:

Lynne Groulx
Executive Director
1 Nicholas Street, 9th Floor
Ottawa, ON K1N 7B7
Toll-free 1-800-461-4043
Tel.: 613-722-3033
Email: lgroulx@nwac.ca

PRESS RELEASE: NWAC PEKE Advisory Committee Member Appointed to CIHR Institute Advisory Board

October 31, 2016 (Ottawa, ON) – The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) is pleased with the recent appointment of Erica Samms-Hurley, a Mi’kmaq woman from Newfoundland and a member of the Qalipu First Nation, to the Institute Advisory Board (IAB) on Chronic Conditions at the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).

In the pursuit of research excellence and creativity, CIHR’s five new IABs will provide a wider scope of expertise and identify opportunities for collaboration across CIHR’s 13 Institutes and numerous initiatives. The IAB on Chronic Conditions provides advice on the discovery, development, evaluation and integration of solutions that allow Canadians living with chronic conditions to actively participate in society. There are four other IABs which include: Research Excellence, Policy and Ethics; Health Innovation; Indigenous Peoples’ Health; and, Health Promotion and Prevention.

Erica Samms-Hurley
Erica Samms-Hurley

Samms-Hurley brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the IAB on Chronic Conditions. She is a Nurse Educator with Grenfell Campus, Memorial University of Newfoundland, and the newly elected Western Region Vice-Chief for the Qalipu Mi’kmaq First Nation Band Council. Dedicated towards improving the health & well-being of Aboriginal women, Samms-Hurley is a previous NWAC board member and is currently active on the NWAC’s Pathways PEKE (Partners for Engagement and Knowledge Exchange) Advisory Committee and the Indigenous Women’s Fund of Canada board.

In 2005, Samms-Hurley received the Governor General’s Youth Award in Commemoration of the Persons Case for her contribution to the advancement of women’s equality. She also received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012 in recognition of her achievements and contributions to the advancement of health.

Quotes:

Erica Samms-Hurley – “The effective management and prevention of chronic diseases represents one of the biggest challenges to Canada’s healthcare system. I look forward to providing advice and impacting research on chronic conditions in Canada.”

NWAC President Francyne Joe – “Aboriginal women’s participation on the new CIHR IABs is an important step in addressing Aboriginal women’s health inequities in Canada”

NWAC President Francyne Joe – “CIHR’s new advisory model fosters a spirit of collaboration among Institutes and Aboriginal experts, in an effort to effectively respond to health challenges facing Aboriginal peoples.”

 

The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) is founded on the collective goal to enhance, promote, and foster the social, economic, cultural and political well-being of First Nations and Métis women within First Nation, Métis and Canadian societies.  As a national organization representing Aboriginal women since 1974, NWAC’s mandate is to achieve equality for all Aboriginal women in Canada.

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CONTACT:

Dan Peters
Senior Operations Manager
1 Nicholas Street, 9th Floor
Ottawa, ON K1N 7B7
Toll free 1-800-461-4043
Tel.: 613-722-3033 x. 249
Email: dpeters@nwac.ca

PRESS RELEASE: Canada Held to Account for its Disappointing Women’s Rights Record by the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women

cso-logos

October 28, 2016 (Geneva, Switzerland) – This week Canada’s record of women’s equality was under the spotlight at the United Nations in Geneva. The 65th Session of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) happens at an opportune moment for Canadian women. Canada has a new federal government with a Prime Minister who says he is a feminist, calls for a nation-to-nation relationship, and acknowledges that “poverty is sexist”. We know words matter, but now we need action.

Decades of regressive legislative changes and budget cuts have substantially eroded women’s rights under the Convention of the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination (CEDAW) in Canada. Since 1995, Canada has fallen from 1st to 25th place on the UN Gender Inequality Index.

Canada needs a comprehensive and holistic national gender equality plan that addresses all forms of discrimination against women and girls. It must take an intersectional approach, recognizing that particular groups of women and girls—including First Nations, Inuit, Métis, racialized, disabled, refugee, immigrant, transgender, lesbian, bisexual and single parent women and girls—experience particular forms of discrimination and deepened disadvantage.

Indigenous women’s, women’s and human rights organizations welcome the creation of the National Inquiry on Missing Women and Girls. However, we remain concerned about the inadequacy of the Terms of Reference and the fact that there are 37 additional recommendations from the CEDAW Committee’s inquiry into the crisis of murders and disappearances that have not yet been implemented.

Indigenous women continue to be marginalized in Canada, as the Native Women’s Association of Canada has shown. Dr. Pam Palmater, Chair of Indigenous Governance at Ryerson University stated, “Indigenous women and girls in Canada suffer some of the world’s highest suicide rates, overrepresentation in prison and high rates of sexualized violence. These conditions are brought on by years of colonization, theft of lands and resources, discriminatory state legislation, chronic under-funding of critical social programs like water, food, housing, health and education and the theft of children into foster care. These conditions are also exacerbated by the devastating impact of the extractive industry, which is allowed to operate without Indigenous consent.”

The Canadian gender wage gap is twice the global average, patterns of job segregation by sex remain unchanged with women concentrated in traditionally female and lower-paying jobs, and women are disproportionately represented in part-time, precarious work. Country-wide pay equity legislation and adequate childcare are needed, alongside new and aggressive strategies involving all levels of government to address structural inequalities and close the wage gap. “Due to the ‘motherhood tax,’ Canadian mothers earn 12% less than women without children. The gap increases as the number of children goes up. It is also larger for single mothers and mothers who have taken longer periods away from paid employment,” says Kasari Govender, Executive Director of West Coast LEAF.

Canada fails to respect, protect and fulfill the social and economic rights of women and girls. Too many women in Canada experience poverty, homelessness, insecure housing, woefully inadequate social assistance incomes, food insecurity, and other violations of the right to an adequate standard of living. Civil society organizations urge Canada to immediately increase the Canada Social Transfer amount to provinces and territories, earmark sufficient funds specifically for social assistance, with conditions to assure accountability for rights obligations, ensure that Canada’s national housing strategy use a rights and gender-based approach, and increase adequate access to education for Indigenous women.

Male violence against women continues to be underreported to police and the responses of policing agencies and the criminal justice system continue to fail women. Inadequate and underfunded services to prevent violence and support survivors, and insufficient affordable housing and shelters accessible to women fleeing abuse, particularly in rural and northern communities, violate the rights of women and girls to live in safety and free from violence. Racialized violence disproportionately affects Indigenous women and girls in Canada, according to the Native Women’s Association of Canada.

Employer-specific closed work permits make it challenging for migrant women, including caregivers, to easily leave abusive employment situations. Canada must end its use of closed work permits in the Temporary Foreign Workers Program.

We are very concerned about access to abortion, including access to both medical and surgical abortions, particularly in rural and northern areas. Canada is one of the only countries with a public health care system that does not have a national pharmacare program. Because of the cost of some drug regimes, this has penalizing effects for certain groups of women, including pregnant women seeking medical abortions and women with HIV.

There remains a significant implementation gap between Canada’s human rights obligations for women and their realization within domestic laws, policies and programs. It is time for our federal government to take leadership and work with provinces and territories to implement the CEDAW, and launch a comprehensive national initiative so all women in Canada can enjoy the equality CEDAW guarantees.

Aboriginal Legal Services
Amnesty International
Barbara Schlifer Clinic
BC CEDAW Group
Canada Without Poverty
Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies
Canadian Feminist Alliance for International Action
Chair in Indigenous Governance, Dr. Pam Palmater
Coalition of Child Care Advocates of BC
Indigenous Women Against the Sex Industry
MiningWatch Canada
Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC)
OXFAM
West Coast LEAF

Read the Joint Report by NWAC and FAFIA submitted to the 65th session of CEDAW here

 

MEDIA CONTACTS
Christa Big Canoe, Legal Director, Aboriginal Legal Services (criminalization of Indigenous women; experiences of Indigenous victims of sexual violence; inequities in education)
Tel: + 1 647-227-4392; email: canoecd@lao.on.ca

Michèle Biss, Legal Education and Outreach Coordinator, Canada Without Poverty (homelessness; poverty; food insecurity; inadequate social assistance rates; minimum wage; wage gap; implementation of economic social and cultural rights)
Tel: +1 613-697-8743; email: michele@cwp-csp.ca

Shelagh Day, Chair, Human Rights Committee, Canadian Feminist Alliance for International
Action (Indian Act sex discrimination; women’s equality; violence against women)
Tel: +1 604-872-0750; email: shelagh.day@gmail.com

Viveca Ellis, Community Organizer, Single Mother’s Alliance, (BC CEDAW Group: Community engagement)
Tel: +1 604 366 1008; email: info@singlemothersbc.org

Kasari Govender, Executive Director, West Coast LEAF (child care; women’s human rights; access to justice; poverty)
Tel: +1 604-684-8772 x211; email: exec@westcoastleaf.org

Sharon Gregson, The Coalition of Child Care Advocates of BC (child care)
Tel: +1 604-505-5725

Kamila Graczyk, Assistant Communications Coordinator, Native Women’s Association of Canada
Tel: +1 613-722-3033 x235; email: kgraczyk@nwac.ca

Dr. Pam Palmater, Chair in Indigenous Governance, Ryerson University (violence against
Aboriginal women; Aboriginal rights, title, sovereignty, incarceration and placements in care)
Email: ppalmater@politics.ryerson.ca

Kim Pate, Executive Director (women in detention)
Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies
Tel: +1 613 238 2422; email: kpate@web.ca

Pamela Rice, Barbara Schlifer Clinic
Tel: + 1 416-312-8998; email: p.rice@schliferclinic.com

Cherry Smiley (Indigenous women)
Indigenous Women Against the Sex Industry
Email: contactIWASI@gmail.com

PRESS RELEASE: NWAC Commends the Government For Introducing Legislation that Begins the Process of Ending Sex Discrimination in the Indian Act

nwac_logo_en_fr_split-new

October 26, 2016 (Ottawa, ON) – The Native Women’s Association of Canada commends the Government for introducing legislation in the Senate yesterday that begins the extensive process of ending sex-based inequities and residual discrimination against Indigenous women and their families embedded within the Indian Act. The new Bill, An Act to Amend the Indian Act to Eliminate Sex-Based Inequities in Indian Registration, represents Stage I of the Government’s recently launched two-staged approach to end sex discrimination in the Indian Act, as it pertains to Indian status provisions and First Nations citizenship.

Both Stage I and Stage II are the Government’s response to the 2015 Superior Court of Quebec’s decision on the Descheneaux et al., v. Canada case, where the court found that sections of the Indian Act violated section 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The court gave the Government until February 3 2017 to make the necessary legislative amendments.

“For decades, NWAC has worked on addressing sex-based discrimination against Indigenous women and girls, their families, and communities. We are pleased that the government is moving forward on this issue by introducing this important legislation. We are also encouraged that the government has acknowledged much more needs to be done with respect to membership. NWAC is looking forward to partnering with the government on these broader critical issues. We believe that this legislation is only the beginning of the process to fully ending all forms of discrimination in the Indian Act. NWAC would like to see the full implementation of Article 33 of UNDRIP, “Indigenous peoples have the right to determine their own identity or membership in accordance with their customs and traditions,”

–  Francyne Joe, President

The proposed legislative amendments will directly affect Indian status registration and membership and will address “historic inequities in how men and women acquire and transmit Indian status”, with some estimates showing the increased number of Status Indians to be up to 15 000.

The following are three sex-based inequities within the Indian Act that the Government has identified so far, to be included in the legislative amendments in response to the Descheneaux decision:

  • Cousins Issue: Address the differential treatment of first cousins whose grandmother lost status due to marriage with a non-Indian, when that marriage occurred before April 17, 1985
  • Siblings Issue: Address the differential treatment of women who were born out of wedlock of Indian fathers between September 4, 1951 and April 17, 1985
  • Issue of Omitted Minors: Address the differential treatment of minor children, compared to their adult or married siblings, who were born of Indian parents or of an Indian mother, but lost entitlement to Indian Status because their mother married a non-Indian after their birth, and between September 4, 1951 and April 17, 1985

NWAC looks forward to seeing the aforementioned sex-based inequities remedied effectively, as well as other misogynist laws that have been discriminating against Indigenous women and girls for centuries. Dr. Lynn Gehl (2013) identified one such legislative issue, namely the unknown or unstated paternity policy. This policy causes Indigenous children to be robbed of inclusion in their home communities due to the Government’s inherent assumption that lack of a father’s signature on a birth certificate translates to the father being a non-status Indian. Even worse, the unknown or unstated paternity policy applies to Indigenous mothers whose children were conceived through the violent acts of sexual assault, incest, rape or prostitution, which only adds further insult to injury by depriving her children of the socio-economic and cultural benefits of status Indian-ship and First Nations citizenship.

Once the legislative amendments are passed in February 2017, we look forward to working with the Government to ensure full engagement by Indigenous communities when we collectively begin examining the broader issues relating to Indian status provisions and First Nations citizenship, as part of Stage II of this initiative. Moving beyond the issues identified by the Descheneaux case decision requires extensive consultations with Indigenous peoples across Canada in order to achieve culturally and regionally diverse perspectives.

NWAC looks forward to facilitating the Government’s effective collaboration and consultation with Indigenous leaders, organizations and communities in order to identify, address, and eliminate all forms of discrimination within the Indian Act.

Press Release by the Government of Canada – http://news.gc.ca/web/article-en.do?nid=1142979&tp=1

More information on the Descheneaux et al., v. Canada case – https://www.aadnc-aandc.gc.ca/eng/1467227680166/1467227697623

 

The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) is founded on the collective goal to enhance, promote, and foster the social, economic, cultural and political well-being of First Nations and Métis women within First Nation, Métis and Canadian societies.  As a national organization representing Aboriginal women since 1974, NWAC’s mandate is to achieve equality for all Aboriginal women in Canada.

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CONTACT:

Dan Peters
Senior Operations Manager
1 Nicholas Street, 9th Floor
Ottawa, ON K1N 7B7
Toll free 1-800-461-4043
Tel.: 613-722-3033 x. 249
Email: dpeters@nwac.ca

 

PRESS RELEASE: NWAC Calls for Immediate Action on Indigenous Youth Suicide Crisis After the Tragic Loss of Four Young Girls

October 20, 2016 (Ottawa, ON) – The Native Women’s Association of Canada calls for immediate action on the worsening youth suicide crisis within Indigenous communities, after the tragic loss of four young girls within a week. The northern Saskatchewan Indigenous communities of Stanley Mission, La Ronge, and Deschambault Lake are mourning the loss of the four young girls, aged 10 to 14, after they took their own lives.

This month’s suicides, along with the recent crisis in the northern Ontario community of Attawapiskat, illustrate just how little we understand about what young Indigenous girls and boys are going through and how inadequate our response is.

“We lose our Indigenous girls in many ways. In one week we have lost four girls between the ages of 10 to 14 to suicide. They could not find the hope to keep going.  We collectively failed them because we did not show them that they are valued and that we will address the systemic violence that does not recognize their beauty and worth.  We collectively let them be told that they are not worthy of a school system, health care system, child welfare supports, home care system equal to other children just down the road from them that are not living on reserve. We told them that they are lesser than other children so they can live in housing that is substandard and with water that is not drinkable. This is not the families’ loss, or the communities’ loss. This tragedy is our collective loss. We have lost our children.”

– Francyne Joe, President

Vigil in La Ronge, Saskatchewan in memory of the lost girls. (Photo Credit: Don Somers, CBC)
Vigil in La Ronge, Saskatchewan in memory of the lost girls. (Photo Credit: Don Somers, CBC)

The reaction to this crisis is not to provide mental health supports for the crisis and then everything stays the same.  While communities need funds for culturally-aware mental health counselling, supports and programs for at-risk youth, we also need a comprehensive systemic response to communities losing their children.  Cindy Blackstock’s work through the First Nation and Family Caring Society has consistently identified issues that needs to change for our Indigenous children and youth.

The results of assimilatory government policies such as residential schools and the Sixties Scoop, as well as a steady diet of racism, misogyny and sexualization of Indigenous women and girls, have led to the higher rates of anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorders and other mental health issues within Indigenous communities, particularly among Indigenous women and girls. This leads to suicide and self-inflicted injuries becoming one of the most common causes of death for Aboriginal youth and adults (up to 44 years of age), according to Health Canada (2012).

Indigenous youth seeking culturally-aware mental health counselling and crisis intervention should call the 24/7 toll-free hotline – 1-855-242-3310. Services are available in English and French, as well as Cree, Ojibway and Inuktitut.

 

The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) is founded on the collective goal to enhance, promote, and foster the social, economic, cultural and political well-being of First Nations and Métis women within First Nation, Métis and Canadian societies.  As a national organization representing Aboriginal women since 1974, NWAC’s mandate is to achieve equality for all Aboriginal women in Canada.

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CONTACT:

Dan Peters
Senior Operations Manager
1 Nicholas Street, 9th Floor
Ottawa, ON K1N 7B7
Toll free 1-800-461-4043
Tel.: 613-722-3033 x. 249
Email: dpeters@nwac.ca

PRESS RELEASE: NWAC Extends Heartfelt Condolences to Family and Loved Ones of the Late Annie Pootoogook

October 13, 2016 (Ottawa, ON) – The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) would like to extend our deepest and most heartfelt condolences to the family, loved ones, and Inuit community known to the late Annie Pootoogook, an admired, internationally-acclaimed Inuit artist. Our heart goes out to the Inuit community members across Canada who are in the midst of mourning their loss at today’s memorial at St. Paul’s Eastern United Church in Ottawa, Ontario and at yesterday’s funeral at Pootoogook’s hometown of Cape Dorset, Nunavut.

In solidarity with Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, we would also like to sternly condemn the racist and derogatory comments posted online by an Ottawa police officer after the body of Annie Pootoogook was found in Ottawa’s Rideau River on September 19.

Rebecca Kudloo, President of Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada said, “We will not be commenting on Annie’s death at this time, out of respect for her family’s wishes.”

NWAC supports Natan Obed, President of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, in calling for stern disciplinary action against the officer whose hurtful and despicable words further highlight the issue of systemic racism against Indigenous peoples in Canada and the urgent need to address it.

Family and community members calling for justice for Annie Pootoogook at Ottawa's October 4 Sisters In Spirit Vigil.
Family and community members calling for justice for Annie Pootoogook at Ottawa’s October 4 Sisters In Spirit Vigil.

“It is absolutely reprehensible that only two months after the official launch of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls – whose terms of reference emphasized how the role of institutional racism within law enforcement agencies results in inadequate police investigations into violent crimes against Indigenous women – the racist Ottawa police officer proceeds with harming Ottawa’s Indigenous community without any repercussions,” President Francyne Joe said.

Family members and loved ones mourn the loss of world reknown artist Annie Pootoogook.
Family members and loved ones mourn the loss of world reknown artist Annie Pootoogook.

Annie Pootoogook, 46, was a world-known Inuit artist whose ink and crayon drawings depicting everyday life and struggles in the North brought her international fame and numerous awards, having her artwork displayed at museums and art galleries across Canada, the United States and Europe. As the daughter of celebrated Inuit artists Napachie Pootoogook and Eegyvudluk Pootoogook and granddaughter of the Order of Canada recipient Pitseolak Ashoona, artistic talent is deeply rooted in her family and community in Cape Dorset, Nunavut.

As an artist whose work has brought much needed public awareness to the issues faced by Inuit communities in the North and as a strong Indigenous woman, Annie Pootoogook and her grieving family should be given the respect, empathy and justice that they rightly deserve, by both the wider Canadian public and the Ottawa police force. It is our collective responsibility to honour Annie Pootoogook and celebrate her impactful contribution to the world.

 

The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) is founded on the collective goal to enhance, promote, and foster the social, economic, cultural and political well-being of First Nations and Métis women within First Nation, Métis and Canadian societies.  As a national organization representing Aboriginal women since 1974, NWAC’s mandate is to achieve equality for all Aboriginal women in Canada.

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CONTACT:

Dan Peters
Senior Operations Manager
1 Nicholas Street, 9th Floor
Ottawa, ON K1N 7B7
Toll free 1-800-461-4043
Tel.: 613-722-3033 x. 249
Email: dpeters@nwac.ca

PRESS RELEASE: Joint NWAC and Statistics Canada Report Shows High Rates of Suicidal Ideation Among Indigenous Youth

logo89-653nwac_logo_en_fr_split-new    statscanada

October 13, 2016 (Ottawa, ON) – The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC), in collaboration with Statistics Canada, published the report entitled “Past-year suicidal thoughts among off-reserve First Nations, Métis and Inuit adults aged 18 to 25: Prevalence and associated characteristics based on data generated from the 2012 Aboriginal Peoples Survey. The results of this report do not come as a surprise, as the loss of loved ones through suicide has been a reality for many Indigenous communities spanning many generations.

The prevalence of lifetime suicidal thoughts among Aboriginal young adults was almost double (27%) that of their non-Aboriginal counterparts (15%). Aboriginal young women in particular showed a trend towards higher prevalence of lifetime suicidal thoughts, and were more likely than men to report mood and/or anxiety disorders and a bullying environment in school.

In 2012, 5-10% of off-reserve First Nations, Métis and Inuit young adults reported suicidal thoughts in the previous twelve months. Among the three Aboriginal groups studied, young adults who reported having mood and/or anxiety disorders, ever using drugs, or hopelessness were more likely to have had past-year suicidal thoughts.

Conversely, high self-worth was associated with reduced likelihood of suicidal thoughts among off-reserve First Nations, Métis, and Inuit youth. Strong extended family ties and post-secondary school attendance were only associated in the case of off-reserve First Nations young adults. These association could advance the discussion of the development and evaluation of gender and community specific suicide prevention programs.

Research by Chandler and Lalonde (2008) found that certain factors have shown to protect against suicide. They include community and individual empowerment, control over personal lives, connection to culture, participation of women in local band councils, and the control of child and family services within the community.

NWAC applauds the Liberal government’s recent commitment of $70 million in new funding over the next three years to address the health and suicide crisis involving Indigenous peoples living on-reserve and in the territories. However, long-term solutions, improved resources and culturally-aware mental health services, both on and off-reserve, are urgently needed to effectively address this crisis and the underlying systemic issues contributing to the risk of suicide and suicidal thoughts in Indigenous youth throughout Canada.

QUOTE:

“The suicide epidemic in our Indigenous communities requires immediate action. It is only through the sharing of knowledge and translating research into viable prevention programs that the staggering rates of suicidal thoughts among Indigenous youth can be reduced. Interventions need to be adapted to the needs of specific communities.”

– Francyne Joe, President, Native Women’s Association of Canada

 

The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) is founded on the collective goal to enhance, promote, and foster the social, economic, cultural and political well-being of First Nations and Métis women within First Nation, Métis and Canadian societies.  As a national organization representing Aboriginal women since 1974, NWAC’s mandate is to achieve equality for all Aboriginal women in Canada.

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CONTACT:

Dan Peters
Senior Operations Manager
1 Nicholas Street, 9th Floor
Ottawa, ON K1N 7B7
Toll free 1-800-461-4043
Tel.: 613-722-3033 x. 249
Email: dpeters@nwac.ca

PRESS RELEASE: NWAC Disappointed With Lack of Progress In National Inquiry into MMIWG

 October 5, 2016 (Ottawa, ON) – At the October 4th Sisters In Spirit vigils throughout the country, we heard family members describe their disappointment and concern about the delays in starting the National Inquiry.  The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) would also like to express our disappointment and frustration with the lack of substantial progress in the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls since its official launch on August 3rd, 2016.

“We are very concerned. The two-year mandate that the National Inquiry Commission has been given leaves a very short time for the mandated tasks of establishing regional and issue-specific advisory bodies, creating trauma-informed and culturally aware counselling services, and beginning the substantive process of listening to family members, loved ones, and survivors express their stories all across Canada,” said NWAC President Francyne Joe.

Family members and loved ones of MMIWG at the 2016 October 4th Sisters In Spirit Vigil in Ottawa.
Family members and loved ones of MMIWG at the 2016 October 4th Sisters In Spirit Vigil in Ottawa.

“After 11 years of conducting in-depth research, publishing extensive reports, and campaigning for a National Inquiry to address the alarming rates of violence against Indigenous women and girls, we are very disappointed to see that over two months into the two-year Inquiry mandate, no visible progress has been made. Family members, loved ones have been waiting for decades to be heard.  We recognize that it a big task to start a National Inquiry but the lack of communication has been disappointing and worrying.” said President Francyne Joe.

Family members, loved ones, and survivors deserve a transparent National Inquiry that is capable of delivering justice and properly honouring the over 1200 Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls in Canada. A transparent National Inquiry includes easily accessible information regarding office locations across Canada, readily available contact information to the Commissioners and their staff, a step-by-step guide on how to get involved with the Inquiry, a straightforward and coherent website, and other necessary infrastructure that will ensure the success of this Inquiry.

Family members and loved ones express concern over lack of Progress in MMIWG Inquiry.
Family members and loved ones express concern over lack of Progress in MMIWG Inquiry.

The time has come for the Inquiry Commission to illustrate its competence in being able to adequately address the systemic causes behind the high rates of violence against Indigenous women and girls. The immense responsibility associated with the tremendous task of addressing one of the gravest human rights abuses in Canada’s history leaves no time to waste. The time to begin this important work is now.

The Native Women’s Association of Canada is committed to monitoring the progress on the National Inquiry and will continue to apply pressure on the Inquiry Commission to live up to the family members’ high expectations.

 

The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) is founded on the collective goal to enhance, promote, and foster the social, economic, cultural and political well-being of First Nations and Métis women within First Nation, Métis and Canadian societies.  As a national organization representing Aboriginal women since 1974, NWAC’s mandate is to achieve equality for all Aboriginal women in Canada.

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CONTACT:

Dan Peters
Senior Operations Manager
1 Nicholas Street, 9th Floor
Ottawa, ON K1N 7B7
Toll free 1-800-461-4043
Tel.: 613-722-3033 x. 249
Email: dpeters@nwac.ca

PRESS RELEASE: Communities Across Canada Hold 11th Annual October 4th Sisters In Spirit Vigils to Honour MMIWG

nwac_logo_en_fr_split-newsis_black-ring_logo

October 4, 2016 (Ottawa, ON) – Communities across Canada are hosting vigils to honour and commemorate the lives of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls as part of the annual October 4th Sisters in Spirit vigils.

For eleven years, since 2006, family members, community members, and concerned citizens have come together, organizing candlelight vigils, rallies and community feasts to honour our lost sisters, daughters, mothers, healers, educators, and leaders.

October 4th Sisters In Spirit Vigil at Parliament Hill in 2015.
October 4th Sisters In Spirit Vigil at Parliament Hill in 2015.

“I would like to acknowledge the strong and resilient Indigenous women leaders across this country who have created and fortified this movement for social change by applying pressure every year on governments to address the alarming rates of violence against Indigenous women and girls.” said Interim President Francyne Joe.  “This year’s Sisters in Spirit October 4th vigils are especially crucial, as we turn our attention and expectations towards the work of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.”

The first Sisters in Spirit October 4th Vigils were hosted in 2006 after the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) had begun its detailed research into the alarming rates of violence against Indigenous women and girls in Canada, under the umbrella of the Status of Women-funded Sisters In Spirit research and policy initiative. The resulting database found that there were over 582 Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls in Canada, with the confirmed numbers rising to 1 181 after the RCMP published its report in 2014.

Elder Annie Modeste smudging at the 2015 October 4th Vigil.
Algonquin Elder Annie Smith St. George smudging at the 2015 October 4th Vigil.

Close to 100 communities across Canada will be hosting October 4th Sister In Spirit Vigils this year, illustrating the strength and leadership of Indigenous women, families, and communities in supporting family members in their grief and raising public awareness to address this tragic crisis in Canadian society.

The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) stands in support and solidarity with the numerous communities during today’s October 4 Vigils as we fight against the violence and injustices inflicted upon our Indigenous women and girls.

 

The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) is founded on the collective goal to enhance, promote, and foster the social, economic, cultural and political well-being of First Nations and Métis women within First Nation, Métis and Canadian societies.  As a national organization representing Aboriginal women since 1974, NWAC’s mandate is to achieve equality for all Aboriginal women in Canada.

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CONTACT:

Dan Peters
Senior Operations Manager
1 Nicholas Street, 9th Floor
Ottawa, ON K1N 7B7
Toll free 1-800-461-4043
Tel.: 613-722-3033 x. 249
Email: dpeters@nwac.ca

PRESS RELEASE: NWAC Announces the Winners of the 2016 Helen Bassett Commemorative Student Award

September 30, 2016 (Ottawa, ON) – The Native Women’s Association of Canada is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2016 Helen Bassett Commemorative Student Award. This bursary assists Indigenous women who are enrolled in post-secondary law studies or justice-related studies, and who are committed to the political, social, economic, and cultural advancement of Indigenous women, their families, and their communities.

The Helen Bassett Commemorative Student Award was made available through the generous donations of Helen Bassett, who was an active supporter of equal rights for Aboriginal peoples and women. Ms. Bassett’s wish was for funds to be used for post-secondary student awards, and more specifically for Indigenous women pursuing law careers.

 

NORTH
Samantha Lee Dawson
Whitehorse, YT

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Samantha Lee Dawson is a 2016 Helen Bassett Student Award winner.            Photo credit: Red Works Photography

 

 

 

Samantha Lee Dawson is a member of the Selkirk First Nation and was born and raised in her traditional territory in the Yukon. She is currently in her third year at the University of British Columbia Law School where she will be graduating next year with specialization in Aboriginal law and Social Justice. She will be spending her articling year in the area of criminal defence while also involving herself with the Yukon Aboriginal Women’s Circle (YAWC), one of NWAC’s Territorial Member Associations.

 

 

 

 

 

 

SOUTH
Alana Robert
Winnipeg, MB

Alana Robert is a 2016 Helen Bassett Student Award winner.
Alana Robert is a 2016 Helen Bassett Student Award winner.

 

 

Alana Robert is from the Manitoba Métis Nation, and is pursuing her Juris Doctor of Law at Osgoode Hall Law School at York University. She founded Justice For Women, which strives to eliminate gender-based violence through advocacy, education, and support. Through this work, Alana has led campaigns raising awareness of missing and murdered Indigenous women, while also making changes in her community at the University of Manitoba, where she created Consent Culture Workshops, a policy that requires this training for student leaders, and a Self-Care and Sexual Violence Resource Centre for students.

 

 

 

 

 

WEST
Leanna Gruendel
Victoria, BC

Leanna Gruendel is a 2016 Helen Bassett Student Award winner.
Leanna Gruendel is a 2016 Helen Bassett Student Award winner.

 

 

Leanna Gruendel is a Cree woman in her first year of the J.D. program at the University of Victoria Law School. She plans on focusing her degree on Aboriginal Law and Human Rights Law, and hopes to work towards improving justice services for Indigenous women. In her spare time, Leanna enjoys practicing photography and volunteering at her local Friendship Centre. Leanna is incredibly honoured to have been selected as a recipient of the 2016 Helen Bassett Commemorative Student Award.

 

 

 

 

 

 

EAST
Ashtyn McLean
St. George, NL

Ashtyn McLean is a 2016 Helen Bassett Student Award winner.
Ashtyn McLean is a 2016 Helen Bassett Student Award winner.

 

 

Ashtyn McLean is Qalipu Mi’kmaq First Nations woman completing her Bachelor of Social Work at Memorial University of Newfoundland. Upon completion of her degree, Ashtyn is interested in working in the field of gerontology. Her hobbies include spending time with family and friends and taking part in outdoor activities such as hiking, fishing, and spending time at the family cabin.

 

 

 

 

NWAC wishes to congratulate the four winners on their success and offers special thanks to all who applied. In addition, NWAC wishes success to all students as they enter into a new school year this fall.

 

The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) is founded on the collective goal to enhance, promote, and foster the social, economic, cultural and political well-being of First Nations and Métis women within First Nation, Métis and Canadian societies.  As a national organization representing Aboriginal women since 1974, NWAC’s mandate is to achieve equality for all Aboriginal women in Canada.

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CONTACT:

Dan Peters
Senior Operations Manager
1 Nicholas Street, 9th Floor
Ottawa, ON K1N 7B7
Toll free 1-800-461-4043
Tel.: 613-722-3033 x. 249
Email: dpeters@nwac.ca

PRESS RELEASE: Indigenous Women, Elders, Youth Gather for NWAC’s 42nd Annual General Assembly

September 27, 2016 (Gatineau, Quebec) – Over seventy Indigenous women leaders from across the country, along with 40 observers and guests, gathered for the 42nd Annual General Assembly (AGA) of the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) on the unceded Algonquin territory of Gatineau, Quebec on September 24th-25th, 2016.  The NWAC assembly recognized that this is a critical time as the federal government works to fulfill a number of commitments with Indigenous peoples, including the Inquiry on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.

The gathering took the time to discuss a number of key issues that are of deep concern to Indigenous women in this country.

Minister Catherine McKenna speaking during NWAC's 42nd Annual General Assembly.
Minister Catherine McKenna speaking during NWAC’s 42nd Annual General Assembly.

Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, led off a critical discussion on balancing the responsibilities of environmental stewardship with economic development.  A number of the delegates described specific situations in their provinces and territories that are directly compromising the water and land in their communities and the ability to live on the land.  The Minister was invited to consider engaging Indigenous knowledge to not only inform but guide their work around climate change and economic development.

Michèle Audette, National Inquiry Commissioner and former NWAC President, provided an update and received best wishes for her work.  Concerns were also expressed as the Inquiry is not yet up and running and has only a two-year mandate.

MMIWG Inquiry Commissioner Michèle Audette speaking during the NWAC AGA.
MMIWG Inquiry Commissioner Michèle Audette speaking during the NWAC AGA.

Perry Bellegarde, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) and National Chief Dwight Dorey from the Indigenous Peoples’ Assembly of Canada, offered their greetings and provided some interesting points on where Indigenous women are positioned in federal priorities.  The federal government has committed to UNDRIP which states that Indigenous women have the right to choose their own representative bodies to speak for them. Recently NWAC has not been invited to certain federal consultations including the session on Climate Change and the Environment planned for this week where three National Indigenous Organizations will be in attendance. The question was posed, is it being assumed that Indigenous women are being represented by the AFN, Métis National Council and the Inuit Tapariit Kanatami at this time?  If so, that is not a sound or accurate assumption.

President Francyne Joe, AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde, and former President Dawn Lavell-Harvard.
Interim President Francyne Joe, AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde, and former President Dawn Lavell-Harvard.

One of the most powerful moments of the weekend was a speech by Willow Hill who described the broken child welfare system from her own lived experience. Her story and strength was a reminder of the resiliency and strength of Indigenous women. The delegation made a commitment to work on addressing child welfare as a system that hurts Indigenous children and families, including supporting Cindy Blackstock and the First Nation Child and Family Caring Society in their initiatives.

Cora Lee McGuire closed the gathering with a powerful success story of the work done by the Ontario Native Women’s Association to secure $100 million for ending violence against Indigenous women in the next three years.    The final message was from a British Columbia delegate who symbolized the strength of Indigenous women to deal with the immediate needs while working to transform the system. She called on each woman to step up and foster Indigenous children while we reconstitute a child welfare system that supports Indigenous children, women, families and communities.

The delegation was also in a consultation on Monday, September 26 to discuss sex discrimination in the Indian  Act and specifically the Descheneaux case.

 

The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) is founded on the collective goal to enhance, promote, and foster the social, economic, cultural and political well-being of First Nations and Métis women within First Nation, Métis and Canadian societies.  As a national organization representing Aboriginal women since 1974, NWAC’s mandate is to achieve equality for all Aboriginal women in Canada.

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For more information, please contact:

Lynne Groulx
Executive Director
1 Nicholas Street, 9th Floor
Ottawa, ON K1N 7B7
Toll-free 1-800-461-4043
Tel: 613-722-3033 ext. 223
Email: lgroulx@nwac.ca

PRESS RELEASE: Former BCNWA President Francyne Joe Appointed New Interim President of NWAC

September 25, 2016 (Gatineau, QC) – It is a pleasure to announce that former President of the BC Native Women’s Association, Francyne Joe, was appointed the new President of the Native Women’s Association yesterday at NWAC’s 42nd Annual General Assembly in Gatineau, Quebec.

Francyne Joe was appointed interim President of NWAC after the former President, Dr. Dawn Lavell-Harvard, submitted her resignation after over a year of serving as President and three years of serving as Vice President of NWAC.

Francyne Joe accepting the interim Presidency of the Native Women's Association of Canada.
Francyne Joe accepting the interim Presidency of the Native Women’s Association of Canada.

“It is an honour and a privilege to accept the esteemed position of President of the Native Women’s Association of Canada. I look forward to working closely with our federal, provincial, territorial and community partners to work toward the political, social, economic, and cultural advancement of Indigenous women, their families, and their communities,” said President Francyne Joe.

President Francyne Joe of NWAC.
President Francyne Joe of NWAC.

Through involvement in various community organizations, President Joe has always been committed to empowering Indigenous women and girls. As president of BC Native Women’s Association, she accessed funding for education and career development; advocated with families for a National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls; and fostered partnerships with BC Aboriginal agencies to address issues pertaining to Indigenous peoples, their families, and their communities.

Passionate about employment law as it applies to discrimination and harassment prevention, and wage equity, President Joe worked with the Human Resources Management Association to educate professionals working for Aboriginal communities. At All Nations Trust, she worked with Aboriginal employers and employees to understand human resource management and to educate them, and community members, on pension and group benefits in an effort to improve both community health and financial management.

A proud member of the Nlaka’pamux Nation, President Joe calls Lower Nicola reserve her home where she was raised by her grandparents while her mother worked to provide for them. Raised in a family and First Nations community with strong ethics and traditional beliefs, she grew up having a strong awareness of many issues that plague Indigenous communities from domestic violence, to unemployment, to lack of educational opportunities, to the systemic and institutional misogyny and racism in Canada.

 

The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) is founded on the collective goal to enhance, promote, and foster the social, economic, cultural and political well-being of First Nations and Métis women within First Nation, Métis and Canadian societies.  As a national organization representing Aboriginal women since 1974, NWAC’s mandate is to achieve equality for all Aboriginal women in Canada.

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For more information, please contact:

Lynne Groulx
Executive Director
1 Nicholas Street, 9th Floor
Ottawa, ON K1N 7B7
Toll-free 1-800-461-4043
Tel: 613-722-3033 ext. 223
Email: lgroulx@nwac.ca

PRESS RELEASE: Indigenous Artist Maxine Noel Honoured by NWAC

September 24, 2016 (Gatineau, QC) –  Indigenous artist Maxine Noel was honoured yesterday evening by the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) at a private reception at the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau, Quebec. Indigenous leaders and federal cabinet ministers came together this evening to honour Noel’s artistry and contributions to raising public awareness of the Canadian crisis of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.

Her artwork Not Forgotten, which she gifted to the Native Women’s Association of Canada, will be loaned to the Canadian Museum of History for 5 years to be on public display. The painting will be presented in the Canadian History Hall, where it will help to tell the story of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women. It is an art piece that includes symbolic images honouring murdered and missing Indigenous women from each of the four traditional directions – East, West, South, North.

Indigenous artist Maxine Noel speaking at the Canadian Museum of History.
Indigenous artist Maxine Noel speaking at the Canadian Museum of History.

Algonquin Elder Claudette Commanda, along with President Dawn Lavell-Harvard, Mark O’Neill, President and CEO of the Canadian Museum of History, and Dr. Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs, extended their deepest gratitude and praise to the artist for her efforts in honouring Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.

 

President Lavell-Harvard thanking Maxine Noel for her efforts in raising awareness of MMIWG.
President Lavell-Harvard thanking Maxine Noel for her efforts in raising awareness of MMIWG.

 

Minister Carolyn Bennett, artist Maxine Noel, President Lavell-Harvard, Elder Claudette Commanda, and Mark O'Neill, President and CEO of Canadian Museum of History.
Minister Carolyn Bennett, artist Maxine Noel, President Lavell-Harvard, Elder Claudette Commanda, and Mark O’Neill, President and CEO of Canadian Museum of History.

“Every year the Canadian Museum of History welcomes millions of Canadians who come to learn about this land’s history, art, and cultures; as of today, those millions will be graced with the gift of Maxine Noel’s artwork Not Forgotten, an iconic piece that commemorates our missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. Thank you, Maxine, for helping to bridge the information gap regarding the National crisis of our missing and murdered women through your beautiful artistry,” said President Lavell-Harvard.

A survivor of an Indian Residential school and a strong Indigenous woman, Maxine Noel was born in 1946 to Santee Oglala Sioux parents on the Birdtail Reserve in Manitoba. She was given the Sioux name “Ioyan Mani”, meaning “walk beyond”, which is the signature she uses on her artwork.

A self-taught artist, she first worked as a legal secretary in Edmonton and Toronto before devoting herself to her art full-time in 1979.

Her work has been exhibited in museums and galleries across Canada, including in the collections of the Canadian Museum of History, the University of Western Ontario, the Canadian Native Arts Foundation in Toronto and the Whetung Ojibwa Centre.

She has lectured and served on panels at the Saskatchewan School of Fine Arts, the University of Western Ontario and the native program at the Ontario College of Art.

 

The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) is founded on the collective goal to enhance, promote, and foster the social, economic, cultural and political well-being of First Nations and Métis women within First Nation, Métis and Canadian societies.  As a national organization representing Aboriginal women since 1974, NWAC’s mandate is to achieve equality for all Aboriginal women in Canada.

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CONTACT:

For more information, please contact:

Lynne Groulx
Executive Director
1 Nicholas Street, 9th Floor
Ottawa, ON K1N 7B7
Toll-free 1-800-461-4043
Tel: 613-722-3033 ext. 223
Email: lgroulx@nwac.ca

PRESS RELEASE: Dr. Dawn Lavell-Harvard Resigns as President of NWAC

September 23, 2016 (Ottawa, ON) – We regret to announce the resignation of Dr. Dawn Lavell-Harvard as President of the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC).   While Dawn was President of NWAC for only one year, her contribution to supporting Indigenous women across the country has been significant.

Dr. Dawn Lavell-Harvard will remain on NWAC’s Board of Directors as the President of the Ontario Native Women’s Association (ONWA). She will fulfill her duties as President up until the end of this weekend’s 42nd Annual General Assembly, after which a newly elected President will take her place.

Dawn has been an advocate for over 20 years ago when she was first appointed to the Board of the Ontario Native Women’s Association. She has served as ONWA’s President for 11 years.

Dawn is leaving us for very personal reasons and with clear priorities.

Dr. Dawn Lavell-Harvard speaking at the announcement of the National Inquiry into MMIWG.
Dr. Dawn Lavell-Harvard speaking at the announcement of the National Inquiry into MMIWG.

“I am deeply committed to working towards the empowerment of Indigenous women and girls, but my top priority has always been my three young daughters. The toll of raising a young family, the long hours, and extensive travel required for this high-level position had begun to take an impact on myself and my family,” said Dr. Lavell-Harvard

Dr. Lavell-Harvard is looking forward to considering opportunities closer to home.

The Native Women’s Asssociation of Canada extends our best wishes and praise to Dr. Lavell-Harvard for her hard work and dedication to NWAC and in advocating for the rights of Indigenous women, their families and communities.

 

The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) is founded on the collective goal to enhance, promote, and foster the social, economic, cultural and political well-being of First Nations and Métis women within First Nation, Métis and Canadian societies.  As a national organization representing Aboriginal women since 1974, NWAC’s mandate is to achieve equality for all Aboriginal women in Canada.

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CONTACT:

Dan Peters
Senior Operations Manager
1 Nicholas Street, 9th Floor
Ottawa, ON K1N 7B7
Toll free 1-800-461-4043
Tel.: 613-722-3033 x. 249
Email: dpeters@nwac.ca

PRESS RELEASE: NWAC Applauds Gord Downie’s Call to Action for Indigenous Communities

August 23, 2016 (Ottawa, ON) – The Native Women’s Association of Canada honours and applauds Gord Downie, the lead singer in Canadian rock band The Tragically Hip, for bringing widespread public attention to the injustices faced by Indigenous communities during the band’s final concert on August 20, 2016 in Kingston, ON. An audience of millions listened and watched as Downie applied public pressure to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to take action on addressing Canada’s painful relationship with Indigenous peoples, as he promised after last year’s election.

“Our deepest gratitude and praise go out to The Tragically Hip’s Gord Downie. Having the eyes and ears of the nation and using that to bring much needed scrutiny of the Government of Canada’s past negligence regarding the injustices and inequities faced by Indigenous communities across Canada is truly honourable,” said President Lavell-Harvard.

Diagnosed with terminal brain cancer in May of this year, the Canadian rock icon has been a beloved artist and long-time activist for decades. Downie’s commitment to the plight of Indigenous peoples includes serving on the board of environmental group Lake Ontario Waterkeeper, performing concerts near Indigenous communities at James Bay, and recording a song named for Attawapiskat, a northern Ontario First Nations community.

With support from social conscious Canadian artists such as Gord Downie or First Nations visual artist Maxine Noel, a truly renewed, reconciled relationship can be realized between Indigenous peoples and the Government of Canada – but only if it addresses the gender-based issues as well.

 

The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) is founded on the collective goal to enhance, promote, and foster the social, economic, cultural and political well-being of First Nations and Métis women within First Nation, Métis and Canadian societies.  As a national organization representing Aboriginal women since 1974, NWAC’s mandate is to achieve equality for all Aboriginal women in Canada.

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CONTACT:

Dan Peters
Senior Operations Manager
1 Nicholas Street, 9th Floor
Ottawa, ON K1N 7B7
Toll free 1-800-461-4043
Tel.: 613-722-3033 x. 249
Email: dpeters@nwac.ca

PRESS RELEASE: Government of Canada Officially Launches National Inquiry Into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG)

NWAC_Logo_EN_FR_split-NewSIS_Black Ring_Logo

August 3, 2016 (Ottawa, ON) –The Native Women’s Association of Canada’s (NWAC)’s 11-year campaign for a National Inquiry is a steadfast reality as a result of the Government of Canada’s announcement today on the launching of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.

“We welcome the leadership shown by the Federal government today. After 11 years of NWAC listening to the families of the missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls in Canada, we are pleased that we now have a government who is prepared to listen and act. We want to acknowledge the great responsibility that the Commissioners have undertaken and commit to support them as they start this work. We recognize that five people cannot represent the diversity of our country and NWAC will work with the National Inquiry to ensure that all voices that need to be heard will be heard.”

Dawn Lavell-Harvard, President

President Lavell-Harvard with KAIROS Canada Rep Ed Bianchi, Amnesty International Canada Secretary-General Alex Neve, Canadian Labour Congress President Hassan Yussuff, Indigenous Peoples' Assembly of Canada National Chief Dwight Dorey, and Women of the Métis Nation President Melanie Omeniho.
President Lavell-Harvard with KAIROS Canada Rep Ed Bianchi, Amnesty International Canada Secretary-General Alex Neve, Canadian Labour Congress President Hassan Yussuff, Indigenous Peoples’ Assembly of Canada National Chief Dwight Dorey, and Women of the Métis Nation President Melanie Omeniho. (Photo Credit: Fred Chartrand)

NWAC had 10 key points that we were looking to ensure were part of the Inquiry.

  1. Hear from the families in respectful and culturally appropriate ways.
  2. Provide families that want to pursue their cases through a justice system, some mechanism to do that.
  3. Provide families with supports throughout the process including before they present to the Inquiry, during the Inquiry and after they present to the Inquiry, based on a trauma informed approach.
  4. Validate the knowledge that we have acquired as we have engaged and talked with the families for the last 11 years. Specifically:
  5. The underlying issues that have resulted in the number of missing and murdered Indigenous women in this country is a direct result of historical and systemic issues;
  6. Recognize the systems that need to change, including the Child welfare system and justice system
  7. Consolidate the research that has been done over the last eleven years including our research and the research done by Amnesty International.
  8. Establish a research table and advisory tables to support the work.
  9. Make informed recommendations based on the knowledge from the families and the research.
  10. Directly engage NWAC in the Inquiry, as appropriate, and based on our role as National representatives of Indigenous women in Canada and as leaders in this issue for over eleven years.
  11. Establish working relationships with the provinces to address the key issues.
  12. Establish working relationships with the justice partners to address the key issues.

In reviewing the Terms of Reference, there are four areas that we have some concern about.

  1. The trauma informed and culturally based counseling appears to be limited to “the duration of their appearance before the Commission.” Trauma does not have a timeframe and we asked that families and survivors be provided with trauma informed and culturally based counselling services in their community as they get ready to present to the Inquiry, at the Inquiry and after presenting to the Inquiry. We learnt a lot from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission including that the telling of the story of trauma can further trigger trauma. Let’s use those lessons that we learned.
  1. There does not appear to be an opportunity for families to pursue or reopen cases through the justice system. In fact, for families who want to pursue cases or re-open ones that have been part of the justice system, the Terms of Reference direct that the support the Commissioners can offer is to redirect them to the appropriate provincial or territorial victim services. Families are not looking for mainstream counseling services through victim services but justice. This is a missed opportunity.
  1. There is no mention of the role of the provinces and territories and yet we know that some of the systemic issues will require provincial discussions, namely police services and the child welfare system. We cannot ignore what we know. Girls have described that they were sex trafficked from group homes and motels that are part of the child welfare system. We have a disproportionate number of Indigenous people who are in the criminal justice system. These issues are all interrelated and our expectation is that one reason we are having the Inquiry to address how these issues relate to violence against Indigenous women and girls.
  1. There is no explicit mention of the need to work with the justice partners in order to make appropriate recommendations to ensure that there are changes in that system. We cannot ignore the fact that many family members or survivors of violence do not feel that they were treated respectfully or fairly by the justice system.
President Lavell-Harvard speaking at the NWAC Press Conference on August 3 2016. (Photo Credit: Fred Chartrand)
President Lavell-Harvard speaking at the NWAC Press Conference on August 3 2016. (Photo Credit: Fred Chartrand)

NWAC will be continuing our work to end violence against Indigenous women and girls.

  • NWAC will be monitoring the work of the Inquiry and will provide ongoing feedback.
  • NWAC will continue to track missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. Sadly, since the RCMP released their updated report in December 2015 there have been 14 other women and girls who have gone missing or been murdered.
  • NWAC will be monitoring the progress of the CBC in its investigations of 34 cases across Canada that involve the death or disappearance of Indigenous women, and where families of the women say they do not accept the findings of police. These cases have something to teach us and we will be advocates for the changes that need to happen in the justice system and in our society.
  • We will also continue to work on the issues of sexual violence, domestic violence and human and sex trafficking that are part of violence against Indigenous women.

 

The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) is founded on the collective goal to enhance, promote, and foster the social, economic, cultural and political well-being of First Nations and Métis women within First Nation, Métis and Canadian societies.  As a national organization representing Aboriginal women since 1974, NWAC’s mandate is to achieve equality for all Aboriginal women in Canada.

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CONTACT:

Dan Peters
Senior Operations Manager
1 Nicholas Street, 9th Floor
Ottawa, ON K1N 7B7
Toll free 1-800-461-4043
Tel.: 613-722-3033 x. 249
Email: dpeters@nwac.ca

PRESS RELEASE: NWAC Applauds the Long-Awaited Elimination of Sex Discrimination in Indian Act Initiated By Government

July 28, 2016 (Ottawa ON) – The Native Women’s Association of Canada recognizes the Government’s stated commitment to end the sex-based discrimination that is embedded in the Indian Act.  Building from the Descheneaux case, the federal government has taken the opportunity to end sex discrimination in the entire Indian Act.

“We commend this commitment and would caution the Government about the timeline. We are currently in the middle of the summer, children are off school, and it is the time for berry picking, harvesting and fishing. Indigenous women have multiple priorities at this time and a short timeline for an issue that has been this longstanding could result in missed opportunities to build our collaboration relationship and ensure that we deal with the nuanced and explicit forms of sex discrimination in the Indian Act,” President Lavell-Harvard said.

The Government of Canada announced that they will have a two-staged approach in response to the Superior Court of Quebec decision in the case of Descheneaux et al., v. Canada.‎

A complete overhaul by the Government will be in direct contrast to the individualized, piecemeal approaches that have been done since the 1960’s and has required Indigenous women to go to court, and sacrifice their private life in order to achieve justice and fairness.  We take this opportunity to acknowledge and recognize the women who pursued individual court cases including Sharon McIvor, Jeanette Corbiere Lavell, and Yvonne Bedard and the many women behind Bill C-31.

The two-part process, as described by the Government of Canada, is to be “in full partnership with Indigenous peoples to first eliminate all known sex-based discrimination in the Indian Act.”  The Government’s plan in the coming weeks is to launch a formal engagement for legislative amendments to the Indian registration provisions under the Indian Act which will respond to the specific facts in the Descheneaux decision. These changes must be in place by February 3, 2017.  At that time the Government will also try to address “all other known sex-based discrimination in registration under the Act.”

The second phase is described by the federal government as a “collaborative process to examine the broader and systemic issues related to Indian registration and membership not covered in stage one.”   NWAC is particularly looking forward to addressing not only the systemic issues but the impact those issues have had on Indigenous women including our personal sense of identity; the lack of belonging and recognition by some communities when women want to return to their community; the undermining of Indigenous women’s governance roles and the connection to the violence we see in our families when women and men do not maintain their balanced governance roles.

As a National Indigenous Women’s Organization that has spent ten years being undermined, ignored and having our funding cut by 60% by the federal government, NWAC is in a process of actively rebuilding our capacity to substantively respond and coordinate a national response within short timelines. Our current rebuilding status needs to be factored into engagement processes at this time and should not be used as a way to undermine our participation in these key discussions and decisions.

We would ask in the spirit of that relationship they consider our noted concerns and, also, lift the Government’s opposition to Sharon McIvor’s petition at the UN Human Rights Committee which seeks full 6(1)(a) status for herself and her son.

NWAC will work with the Government of Canada to end the sex-based discrimination that has been part of the Indian Act since 1876.

For more information on the Descheneaux et al., v. Canada. case: http://www.firstpeopleslaw.com/database/files/library/Descheneaux_c._Canada_(Procureur_Gnral)_2015_QCCS_3555_(CanLII).pdf

 

The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) is founded on the collective goal to enhance, promote, and foster the social, economic, cultural and political well-being of First Nations and Métis women within First Nation, Métis and Canadian societies.  As a national organization representing Aboriginal women since 1974, NWAC’s mandate is to achieve equality for all Aboriginal women in Canada.

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CONTACT:

Dan Peters
Senior Operations Manager
1 Nicholas Street, 9th Floor
Ottawa, ON K1N 7B7
Toll free 1-800-461-4043
Tel.: 613-722-3033 x. 249
Email: dpeters@nwac.ca

PRESS RELEASE: NWAC Approved to Administer Canadian Institutes of Health Research Grants and Awards Funds

July 25, 2016 (Ottawa, ON) – The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) is pleased to announce that we are now recognized as an eligible institution to administer health research grant and award funds from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR). NWAC is now able to apply directly for CIHR health research funding opportunities and hold research grant and award funds.

With this new designation, Aboriginal communities can collaborate with NWAC to engage in Aboriginal women’s health research that is of interest and a priority to them. We are dedicated to promoting and developing research in a way that encourages self-determination and community-driven research participation in Aboriginal communities across Canada. We also encourage the collection, release, and reporting of sex-disaggregated data that is essential in adequately addressing health conditions that impact Aboriginal women and men differently.

NWAC is currently funded under CIHR’s Signature Initiative, Pathways to Health Equity for Aboriginal Peoples, as a Partner for Engagement and Knowledge Exchange (PEKE) to engage in health research in four priority areas: suicide prevention, tuberculosis, diabetes/obesity, and oral health.

The NWAC PEKE works to improve the health and well-being of Aboriginal women, families, and communities through health research, knowledge exchange, and action.  To achieve this goal, we facilitate linkages and enable learning across research teams and communities, and support the translation of research findings into policies, scale-up community interventions to improve health outcomes among Aboriginal women and their families.

The NWAC PEKE also collaborates with research teams, community and academic researchers to incorporate Indigenous ways of knowing and helps facilitate a gendered perspective and analysis in their research project to ensure equitable results in improving health conditions for both genders. We also support the translation of the knowledge to broader audiences such as leadership, policy makers, practitioners, and healthcare workers.

 

Quotes:

“NWAC’s ability to administer CIHR grants and awards is an important step in moving forwards toward the goal of achieving health equity for Aboriginal women in Canada,” says NWAC President Dawn Harvard. “We recognize and support Indigenous Peoples’ right to control and protect their intellectual property including traditional knowledge, cultural practices, and arts, as per Article 31. 1 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.”

“CIHR is proud to support NWAC,” says Dr. Malcolm King, Scientific Director of CIHR-Institute of Aboriginal Peoples’ Health. “Their collaborative efforts as a PEKE ensure that research conducted by CIHR-funded scientists in the four priority research areas of the Pathways signature initiative can be adopted by Indigenous communities by being respectful of Indigenous culture and ways of knowing. This will, in turn, lead to a healthier future for Indigenous women and families across Canada.”

 

The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) is founded on the collective goal to enhance, promote, and foster the social, economic, cultural and political well-being of First Nations and Métis women within First Nation, Métis and Canadian societies.  As a national organization representing Aboriginal women since 1974, NWAC’s mandate is to achieve equality for all Aboriginal women in Canada.

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CONTACT:

Dan Peters
Senior Operations Manager
1 Nicholas Street, 9th Floor
Ottawa, ON K1N 7B7
Toll free 1-800-461-4043
Tel.: 613-722-3033 x. 249
Email: dpeters@nwac.ca

PRESS RELEASE: NWAC President Meets with Canada’s Premiers and Indigenous Leaders at Biannual COF Meeting

July 22, 2016 (Whitehorse, Yukon) – On behalf of the Native Women’s Association of Canada, President Lavell-Harvard met with Canada’s Premiers and Indigenous Leaders on July 20 at the biannual Council of the Federation (COF) meeting in Whitehorse, Yukon.  Chaired by Yukon’s Premier Darrell Pasloski, this year’s meeting of the Council of the Federation, from July 20-22, is the first COF meeting to be held in Canada’s North.

The first day of the Council of the Federation meeting was for collaborative, multilateral discussions with Indigenous leaders, in the spirit of reconciliation.  The Premiers and Indigenous leaders also had the opportunity to participate in cultural activities at Haines Junction, Yukon, organized by the Champagne and Aishihik First Nations peoples.

President Lavell-Harvard at the 2016 COF Meeting's press conference.
President Lavell-Harvard at the 2016 COF Meeting’s press conference.

“ This gathering has consistently been supportive of the issues that have been concern to Indigenous women in Canada. It was out of the previous Council of the Federation meetings that the Premiers stated their commitment to a National Inquiry on Missing and Murdered Indigenous women.  We find these meetings to be respectful and productive,” President Dawn Lavell-Harvard said in her opening remarks.

The key points that came out of the session include:

  • Full support from all provinces and territories for the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.
  • A commitment to not delay actions by provinces and territories until after the National Inquiry is completed. Preventative action can be implemented now.
  • A collective focus on child welfare.
  • Ongoing discussion on economic development beneficial to Indigenous communities.
  • A commitment for the provinces and territories to meet annually with Indigenous leaders.
President Lavell-Harvard addresses the press regarding the crisis of the child welfare system.
President Lavell-Harvard addresses the press regarding the crisis of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.

“The Native Women’s Association of Canada is looking forward to focusing our collective attention to the issue of child welfare.  We continue to have a disproportionate number of children in the child welfare system. As Indigenous women we know there are better ways to support families so that Indigenous families can care for our children,” commented President Lavell-Harvard.

At this meeting, Premiers from all thirteen of Canada’s provinces and territories, joined leaders from the five National Indigenous Organizations, namely the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC), the Indigenous People’s Assembly of Canada (IPAC), Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK), the Assembly of First Nations (AFN), and the Métis National Council (MNC).

The Council of the Federation was established in 2003 as part of the provinces’ and territories’ need to foster a constructive relationship and strengthen the Canadian federation. Its purpose is to promote interprovincial-territorial cooperation, based on a mutual recognition of the diversity within Canada, and to develop collaborative relationships between the Premiers on a number of significant issues such as healthcare, economic growth or trade.

 

The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) is founded on the collective goal to enhance, promote, and foster the social, economic, cultural and political well-being of First Nations and Métis women within First Nation, Métis and Canadian societies.  As a national organization representing Aboriginal women since 1974, NWAC’s mandate is to achieve equality for all Aboriginal women in Canada.

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CONTACT:

Dan Peters
Senior Operations Manager
1 Nicholas Street, 9th Floor
Ottawa, ON K1N 7B7
Toll free 1-800-461-4043
Tel.: 613-722-3033 x. 249
Email: dpeters@nwac.ca