NWAC Congratulates the Newly-Elected Prime Minister of Canada

PRESS RELEASE – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Ottawa, ON (October 21, 2015) – Congratulations to the newly elected Prime Minister of Canada – Justin Trudeau!

On behalf of the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC), President Dawn Lavell Harvard wishes to applaud and congratulate the newly elected leader of Canada, Justin Trudeau, for his resounding win on October 19’s federal election. NWAC would also like to congratulate all candidates who ran in this election campaign and to those who won a seat in their riding.

“NWAC is looking forward to working with this newly-elected Government on improving the lives of Aboriginal women in all areas and, especially, in addressing the issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls,” said President Lavell Harvard.

President Lavell Harvard will be meeting with Prime Minister Trudeau and his cabinet ministers to begin forging a relationship and developing a plan to bring about positive change in the lives of Aboriginal women and their families and communities. “Women are the backbone of our communities and we, as Aboriginal women, must be involved in the development of any federal strategy that addresses Aboriginal issues,” President Lavell Harvard further stated.

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

NWAC Announces the Winners of the 2015 Helen Bassett Commemorative Student Award

PRESS RELEASE – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

NWAC Announces the Winners of the 2015 Helen Bassett Commemorative Student Award

Ottawa, ON (September 15th, 2015)—The Native Women’s Association of Canada is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2015 Helen Bassett Commemorative Student Award. This bursary assists Aboriginal women who are enrolled in post-secondary law studies. It 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 Aboriginal women pursuing law careers.

This year, the Helen Bassett Commemorative Student Award Selection Committee received and reviewed over 60 applications. NWAC is pleased to announce four awards to the following outstanding women:

Nicole Iaci (WEST)
Nicole is a First Nations woman currently attending her third year of Law at the University of British Columbia. In the past, she successfully completed a Bachelor of Arts degree in history and political science. At UBC, she is very passionate about raising students’ awareness of Aboriginal women’s issues and plans to use her education to work in Aboriginal or environmental law.

Brittnee Sheridan (EAST)
Brittnee is a young First Nations woman from Newfoundland who is in her fourth year of Law & Justice and Indigenous Studies at Laurentian University in Sudbury. Brittnee is extremely active in the community where she resides and plans to use her education to improve the rights of Aboriginal women across Canada

Alyssa Flaherty-Spence (NORTH)
Alyssa is an Inuk woman who successfully completed the 8 week Legal Studies Program for Native Students and is now enrolled in her third year of the Common Law Program at the University of Ottawa. She is committed to achieving equality and aspires to one day help Aboriginal women through her career in law.

Latisha Reddick (SOUTH)
Latisha is a Metis woman who is proud of her mixed Black and Mi’kmaw ancestry. In the fall of 2015, she will be attending York University’s Osgoode Hall School of Law. She demonstrates her passion for Aboriginal women’s rights through her work with the Sisters of the Soil (SOS) program. Latisha founded the SOS program with the goal of bringing together the Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities of Toronto through knowledge sharing.

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.

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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

October 4th Sisters In Spirit Vigils

PRESS RELEASE – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Public Statement

September 12, 2015 (Ottawa, ON) – The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) is looking for supporters to read the following statement nationwide on October 4th, 2015 as part of the Sisters In Spirit Vigils – A Movement for Social Change:

October 4th is a day when we honour the lives of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls and support families who have been tragically touched by the loss of a loved one to violence. More than 100 SIS Vigils are registered from coast-to-coast for October 4th, 2015. No other event in Canada brings so many Indigenous communities and Canadian citizens together to specifically celebrate, honour and support Indigenous women and girls.

With the release of several important reports in 2015, momentum is gaining behind the call for a national inquiry. This is a crucial step in implementing a comprehensive and coordinated national action plan that is necessary to address the scale and severity of violence faced by Indigenous women and girls. Together, we must demand action and secure commitments from all levels of government.

October 4th is dedicated to honouring the lives of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls and to support families who have been tragically touched by the loss of a loved one to violence. Vigils take many forms: a rally, a candlelight vigil, a workshop, a moment of silence, a walk, or a gathering of people to share memories and a meal. Together, the October SIS vigils have become a movement for social change and a reminder that our sisters will not be forgotten.

In closing, we express our sincere thanks and gratitude to the families. Many are here today and we thank them for sharing their stories. You are the reason we continue to demand action. We are honoured to walk beside you on this journey!

This public statement is a very powerful way for Indigenous and non-Indigenous leadership to signal their support and commitment to the issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. “Once again this year, NWAC is asking that you share this public statement with your family, friends and peers and reach out to support a family who has suffered such a tragic loss. A loss that has a profound and long lasting impact on the family and community including Canada as a nation,” announced NWAC President Dawn Lavell Harvard.

We continue to call for all levels of government to work with Indigenous women and representative organizations. The Native Women’s Association of Canada continues to call for a National Public Inquiry and a comprehensive national action plan to address violence against Indigenous women and girls. NWAC thanks all their long-standing SIS Vigil partners for once again supporting NWAC’s work.

We look forward to your continued involvement and participation.

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 the achieve equality for all Aboriginal women in Canada.

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For additional information please contact:
Claudette Dumont-Smith
NWAC Executive Director
Toll free 1-800-461-4043
Tel.: 613-722-3033 x. 223
Email: cdumontsmith@nwac.ca
www.nwac.ca

Election of NWAC President

PRESS RELEASE – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Election of NWAC President

MONTREAL, (QC) July 11, 2015 – At the 41st Annual General Assembly (AGA), delegates of the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) met in Montreal on July 11th and 12th to elect their new President. Close to 80 Aboriginal women representing their respective Provincial/Territorial Member Associations (PTMAs) attended the AGA and on July 11th elected Dr. Dawn Lavell Harvard of The Ontario Native Women’s Association (ONWA) to represent them. Dr. Harvard begins a three year term at NWAC, and in her acceptance speech announced, “I am extremely honoured to follow the amazing women and role models who were my predecessors as Presidents of NWAC. I look forward to continuing the work to ensure that Aboriginal women’s voices are heard.”

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 additional information please contact:

Claudette Dumont-Smith
NWAC Executive Director
Toll free 1-800-461-4043
Tel.: 613-722-3033 x. 223
Email: cdumontsmith@nwac.ca
www.nwac.ca

National Aboriginal Day June 21

PRESS RELEASE – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

(June 21, 2015) (Ottawa, ON) – The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) interim president Dr. Dawn Harvard is looking forward to the celebrations that are taking place across the country to mark National Aboriginal Day on June 21. This day is a special day set aside for Aboriginal peoples to celebrate their unique history, culture and traditions and for all Canadians to recognize and acknowledge their distinctive place in Canada as the First Peoples of this great land.

“This day is special for us as Aboriginal peoples. We are proud of our heritage, our cultures and traditions and invite all Canadians to attend a National Aboriginal Day event occurring in their area. Only by learning and respecting each other’s ways can we expect to achieve peaceful and harmonious co-existence in Canada. A Canada that is free of racism and discrimination,” said interim president, Dr. Dawn Harvard.

National Aboriginal Day will be celebrated in a variety of ways such as pow-wows, concerts, festivals or other special events. NWAC is hoping that Aboriginal and non- Aboriginal Canadians take the time to participate at a National Aboriginal Day event and would encourage you to invite family, friends and neighbours to join in the festivities as well!

HAPPY NATIONAL ABORIGINAL DAY ALL!

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For information please contact:

Claudette Dumont-Smith
Executive Director
1 Nicholas Street, 9th Floor
Ottawa, ON K1N 7B7
Toll free 1-800-461-4043
Tel.: 613-722-3033 x. 223
cdumontsmith@nwac.ca

 

National Aboriginal Day June 21

National Aboriginal Day RCMP

PRESS RELEASE – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Native Women’s Association of Canada Interim President Dr. Dawn Harvard says RCMP’s new report on Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women highlights the immediate need for

a National Public Inquiry and a National Action Plan

OTTAWA, June 20, 2015 – The Native Women’s Association of Canada’s (NWAC) Interim President Dawn Harvard said today the over-representation of Indigenous women who are missing and/or murdered in Canada is a serious issue, which cannot be ignored any longer.

This follows Friday’s release of the RCMP’s 2015 Update to the National Operational Overview on Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women which reports higher rates of homicides for Aboriginal women under RCMP jurisdiction. Similar to the mainstream population, offenders are known to their victims as was the case in the majority of the solved homicide cases of Aboriginal women in 2013 and 2014.

According to another RCMP report released last year, nearly 1,200 aboriginal women were reported as missing or had been murdered since 1980. Although Aboriginal females represent only four per cent of the Canadian female population, they account for 16% of murders committed in Canada.

“The numbers of missing and murdered Indigenous women continues at a steady pace, which no longer can be ignored by all members of our society,” said Interim President Dawn Harvard. “We need to address these issues, and a national public inquiry is the best way to inform the development and implementation of a comprehensive national action plan for ending violence that should encapsulate a focus on truth and reconciliation, healthy communities, improved child and family welfare, access to health and social services, and education — we need to take action now to change this disturbing and ongoing trend,” Harvard said.

The 2014 National Operational Overview was based on data from all police services from 1980- 2012. The 2015 Update to the National Operation Overview is based on RCMP data from 2013- 2014.

The report is available at http://www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/pubs/abo-aut/mmaw-fada-eng.htm.
The Native Women’s Association of Canada is the national organization representing First Nation and Metis women in Canada.

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For information please contact:
Claudette Dumont-Smith
Executive Director
1 Nicholas Street, 9th Floor
Ottawa, ON K1N 7B7
Toll free: 1-800-461-4043
Tel.: 613-722-3033 x. 223
cdumontsmith@nwac.ca

NWAC’s Statement On UNPFII 14

Fourteenth Session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues
New York, New York April 20 –May 1, 2015

Item 7: Human Rights – Implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples – Eradicating Violence against Indigenous Women and Girls

Speaker: Dr. Dawn Lavell Harvard

Honourable Madame Chair,

Thank you for this opportunity. On behalf of the Native Women’s Association of Canada, I would like to thank the former Special Rapporteur, for coming to Canada to personally witness and investigate the grave violations of the rights of Indigenous women and girls.

In response to the many recommendations made in the resulting reports, including the Call for a national inquiry into the 1200+ Missing and Murdered Aboriginal women and girls, we have not seen substantial and significant action from the Government of Canada (GoC) and while the overall female homicide rates have decreased, the number of Indigenous Women who are murdered keeps rising.

Statement of the Native Women’s Association of Canada; Assembly of First Nations; International Indian Treaty Council; Akali Tange Association (Pargera Alliance) Papua New Guinea; Quebec Native Women; Te Rūnanga o Te Rarawa; Southeast Indigenous Peoples’ Center; Pacific Region of Global Indigenous Caucus; First Peoples Human Rights Coalition; Canadian Friends Service Committee (Quakers); KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives; Chiefs of Ontario; Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou Istchee); Amnesty International; Canadian Feminist Alliance for International Action (FAFIA); Na Koa Ikaika KaLahui Hawaii; Samson Cree Nation; DisAbled Women’s Network (DAWN) Canada; Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs; First Nations Summit; Indigenous World Association; American Indian Law Alliance

Combating violence against Indigenous women and girls, Article 22 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UN Declaration) Violence against Indigenous women and girls and the State’s failure to respond appropriately to this problem are integrally linked to the fact that Indigenous (First Nations, Inuit and Metis) women and girls experience widespread discrimination and are amongst the most socially and economically disadvantaged groups in Canadian society—a reality which is deeply rooted in colonization. Discrimination against Indigenous women and girls is also embedded in the culture of the Canadian criminal justice system. The social and economic marginalization of Indigenous women and girls not only makes them prey for violent men, but is also used by officials as a justification for failing to protect them.

Despite the overwhelming statistics concerning disappearances and murders of Indigenous women and girls, the Government of Canada (GoC) has failed in their obligation to exercise due diligence to adequately prevent the violence, investigate reports of disappearances and murders, and bring perpetrators to justice. Authorities, and in particular the Federal government, have failed to implement a comprehensive, National Plan to address the violence, including measures that address the social and economic factors contributing to their risk of violence; appropriate training for police, prosecutors and judges in all jurisdictions, effective police protocols for dealing with missing Indigenous women and girls, reliable systems for disaggregated data collection, co-ordination across jurisdictions, and accountability

mechanisms. Initiatives to address the disappearances and murders have been piecemeal. The GoC must take immediate and comprehensive action in order to fulfill its international human rights obligations to prevent, investigate, and punish acts of violence perpetrated against Indigenous women and girls.

The International Expert Group Meeting and numerous international bodies have identified eliminating violence against Indigenous women and girls and their safety and security in communities as being directly linked to implementing self-determination and dismantling the social, political, and economic barriers that impede the rights of Indigenous Peoples. Persistent barriers to Indigenous women and girls’ human, civil, political, and social rights have caused disproportionately high rates of poverty, violence, and dispossession of lands and resources. The ramifications of these occurrences are grave and have continued impacts on Indigenous communities.

Violence is a critical symptom of greater systemic discrimination and barriers to rights realization that exist in many states. Regeneration of Indigenous self-determination and nationhood is critical, as strong and independent governance structures and capacities will enable Indigenous Peoples to address poverty, violence, and the restoration of their traditional territories. Strong and meaningful implementation of the UN Declaration and the many rights it affirms will greatly contribute to improvement of safety, security, wellness, and strength for Indigenous societies and communities.

International conventions and other human rights instruments, such as the UN Declaration, the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women, and the International Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination, denounce and condemn violence against women and girls. All States must continue to work with Indigenous Peoples to ensure their domestic laws and policies respectfully enshrine the values and principles of these international instruments, and with the full participation and involvement of Indigenous Peoples, specifically women and girls.

More meaningful, fair, respectful, and comprehensive approaches are required and should be developed in conjunction with Indigenous women and girls. National and coordinated action is required by all governments, and must adhere to and acknowledge the holistic approaches of Indigenous Peoples.
We recommend the following:

  1. All States, including Canada, need to develop and implement a comprehensive National Plan of Action to end violence against our women, including addressing the social and economic conditions contributing to this violence: and immediately develop and implement a national strategy to address the disadvantaged social and economic conditions of Indigenous women and girls, including poverty, inadequate housing, low educational attainment, inadequate child welfare policies, and the over-criminalization of Indigenous Peoples.
  2. Canada should initiate a national inquiry into the disappearances and murders of Indigenous women and girls that will lead to the design of independent, national, cross-jurisdictional mechanisms and protocols for police and justice officials. This inquiry should include a review of practices and measures related to child welfare, social assistance, housing, criminal justice, policing, and incarceration and identify where systemic correction is needed to dismantle institutionalized sexism and racism where Indigenous Peoples can meaningfully participate in the process. In addition, there can concurrently be a global study of violence against Indigenous women, coordinating and sharing data and other relevant information about trafficking of Indigenous women and girls.
  3. GoC is urged to implement recommendations made by the recent reports by the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women and the Organization of American States: Inter-American Commission on Human Rights regarding Canada’s conduct and the situation of violence against Indigenous women and girls
  4. States should ensure that Indigenous women and girls are actively and increasingly involved in all political, economic, and social processes so as to honour and strengthen the traditional roles and responsibilities of women in Indigenous Nations.
  5. GoC needs to establish independent mechanisms for investigations into misconduct and discrimination within the criminal justice system and police forces and needs to establish independent mechanisms for investigating allegations of misconduct or discrimination within the federal, provincial or territorial components of the criminal justice system, to hold accountable those entities who commit acts of misconduct or discrimination.

In closing, I would like to direct a question to the Special Rapporteur, “What do we do now, as Canada continues to ignore, and fails to respond to the UN reports including, the CEDAW report, condemning these grave violations of the rights of Indigenous women and girls?”

Thank you Madame Chair.

15.04.29 NWAC Statement on UNPFII 14

UN Convention On The Elimination Of All Forms Of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) Inquiry Backgrounder

BACKGROUNDER
Inquiry under Article 8 of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women into Murders and Disappearances of Indigenous Women and Girls in Canada

  • The United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) came into force 3 September 1981
  • Canada ratified CEDAW on 10 December, 1981
  • The United Nations Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women came into force on 22 December 2000
  • Canada ratified the Optional Protocol to CEDAW on 18 Oct 2002
  • The Optional Protocol to CEDAW authorizes the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW Committee) to 1) receive and adjudicate complaints from individuals who allege that their rights have been violated by a State that is a party to the treaty, and 2) initiate an inquiry when it receives “reliable information indicating grave or systematic violations.”
  • Canada’s compliance with the Convention is reviewed about once every five years by the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW Committee). Canada submits a report. Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) also submit reports.
  • The Canadian Feminist Alliance for International Action (FAFIA), in its submission to the CEDAW Committee at the time of the review of Canada’s 6th and 7th reports in November 2008, drew attention to missing and murdered Aboriginal women in Canada.
  • The CEDAW Committee, after reviewing Canada’s compliance with its obligations under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women in 2008, in its Concluding Observations, stated:

31. …the Committee…remains concerned that hundreds of cases involving Aboriginal women who have gone missing or been murdered in the past two decades have neither been fully investigated nor attracted priority attention, with the perpetrators remaining unpunished.

32. The Committee urges the State party to examine the reasons for the failure to investigate the cases of missing or murdered Aboriginal women and to take the necessary steps to remedy the deficiencies in the system. The Committee calls upon the State party to urgently carry out thorough investigations of the cases of Aboriginal women who have gone missing or been murdered in recent decades. It also urges the State party to carry out an analysis of those cases in order to determine whether there is a racialized pattern to the disappearances and take measures to address the problem if that is the case.

  • Canada was asked to report back on its actions on the recommendation contained in paragraph 32 in one year, and it did so in February 2010. FAFIA and the Native Women’s Association of Canada provided follow-up reports indicating that Canada had taken no adequate action.
  • On 25 August 2010, after considering the follow-up report from Canada, the CEDAW Committee wrote to Canada to state that “The Committee considers that its recommendation (regarding missing and murdered Aboriginal women and girls) has not been implemented and it requests the Canadian authorities to urgently provide further information on measures undertaken to address such concerns …”. Canada supplied further information to the Committee on 8 December 2010, but was asked additional questions.
  • In January 2011, FAFIA made a formal request to the CEDAW Committee to initiate an Inquiry under Article 8 of the Optional Protocol to the Convention.
  • In September 2011, NWAC made a formal request to the CEDAW Committee to initiate an Inquiry under Article 8 of the Optional Protocol
  • In September 2011, FAFIA and NWAC submitted additional information to the Committee and requested that an Inquiry under Article 8 of the Optional Protocol be initiated because of Canada’s failure to act promptly and effectively to address the violations of the human rights of Aboriginal women and girls.
  • The CEDAW Committee decided to conduct an Inquiry into missing and murdered Aboriginal women and girls in Canada in 2011.
  • Members of the CEDAW Committee came to Canada in September 2013 to investigate and meet with both government and civil society representatives in Ottawa, Winnipeg, Whitehorse, Prince George and Vancouver.

Further information about the CEDAW Inquiry and all relevant documents can be found at:

http://www.fafia-afai.org/en/solidarity-campaign/the-cedaw-inquiry/.

2015.03.06 CEDAW Inquiry UN Backgrounder

Canada Commits ‘Grave Violation’ of Rights of Aboriginal Women and Girls: United Nations Committee On The Elimination of Discrimination Against Women Releases Report On Inquiry

PRESS RELEASE – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

(March 6, 2015) (Ottawa, ON) In a report released today, the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) concludes that Canada’s ongoing failure to address the extreme violence against Aboriginal women and girls constitutes a “grave violation” of their human rights.

Dawn Harvard, Interim President of the Native Women’s Association of Canada, says, “On the eve of International Women’s Day, the CEDAW Committee condemns Canada for failing in its human rights commitments to Aboriginal women because it refuses to deal with the violence as ‘a serious large-scale problem requiring a comprehensive, coordinated response’.”

After extensive examination of evidence, the CEDAW Committee concludes that Canada is violating Articles 2, 3, 5 and 14 of the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women. These articles require States parties to take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women, to modify social practices that discriminate against women, and to take into account the special problems encountered by women living in rural and remote areas.

The CEDAW Committee finds that there are ongoing police and justice system failures to respond adequately to the violence, dismissive responses to family members, lack of diligence in investigations, and lack of effective mechanisms for oversight of police practices and conduct, including the practices and conduct of the RCMP.

The Committee also finds that Canada has failed to properly take into account the root causes of the violence. It states unequivocally that the realization of economic and social rights, including the right to adequate living conditions on and off reserve, is necessary to enable Aboriginal women to escape from violence.

The United Nations CEDAW Committee oversees the implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women by the 188 countries that have ratified it. Canada ratified in 1981. Residents of states that have ratified both the Convention and its Optional Protocol can make individual complaints when their rights have been infringed or can request an inquiry into systemic violations of human rights by their governments.

The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) and the Canadian Feminist Alliance for International Action (FAFIA) made a request to the CEDAW Committee in 2011to inquire into the crisis of murders and disappearances of Indigenous women and girls.

“The UN CEDAW Committee has considered voluminous and detailed evidence from Canada about the steps that it is taking, but it finds them insufficient, inadequate, and uncoordinated” – says Sharon McIvor of the Canadian Feminist Alliance for International Action – “so insufficient that the failure amounts to a grave violation of rights.”
“Canada told the Committee that it is ‘strongly opposed’ to the development of a national action plan,” says Shelagh Day of FAFIA. “But the Committee recommends that Canada establish a national public inquiry in order to develop an integrated national plan of action, and a coordinated mechanism for implementation and monitoring it. This is the step that is so clearly necessary now.”

“This is an extremely important report for Canada,” says Dawn Harvard of NWAC. “Canada has been told, first by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and now by the United Nations CEDAW Committee, that Canada’s failures to act violate the human rights of Aboriginal women.”
The CEDAW Committee has issued a comprehensive set of recommendations dealing with policing, victim services, access to justice, stereotyping, prostitution and trafficking, social and economic conditions and the Indian Act. It calls on Canada to implement them as a whole.
“What more does Canada need?” says Dawn Harvard of NWAC. “It is time to act now.”

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The CEDAW Inquiry report can be found here:

http://www.fafia-afai.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/CEDAW_C_OP-8_CAN_1_7643_E.pdf

Further information on the CEDAW Inquiry, including submissions to the Committee, can be found at: http://www.fafia-afai.org/en/solidarity-campaign/the-cedaw-inquiry/

Media Contacts:
Native Women’s Association of Canada:
Claudette Dumont-Smith and Dawn Harvard: 613-894-0576

Canadian Feminist Alliance for International Action:
Sharon McIvor: 250-378-7479
Holly Johnson: 613-355-5582
Shelagh Day: 604-872-0750 or email: shelagh.day@gmail.com

2015.03.06 CEDAW Report on Inquiry

National Roundtable On Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women and Girls: A Framework For Action To Prevent And Address Violence Against Indigenous Women and Girls

INTRODUCTION AND PURPOSE

The goals of the National Roundtable are to:

  1. Create a dialogue with all levels of government, Indigenous1 representatives and families to effectively address the crisis of violence against Indigenous women and girls.
  2. Identify solutions and collaborative means of moving them forward, including the ongoing engagement of Indigenous Peoples, families and communities in reducing and eliminating all forms of violence.

The National Roundtable brings together federal, provincial and territorial governments in partnership with National Aboriginal Organizations (NAOs) to discuss how best to collaborate and coordinate action to prevent and address violence against Indigenous women and girls, including those cases that result in their murder or disappearance. As noted in the 2014 Federal Action Plan to Address Family Violence and Violent Crimes Against Aboriginal Women and Girls “…no organization or level of government alone can eradicate this violence. This work must be done in partnership across federal organizations, with provinces and territories and through the leadership of Aboriginal communities and organizations.”

All Indigenous women and children have an equal right to live free of violence and all forms of discrimination. In recent years, there have been a number of initiatives aimed at responding to the prevalence of violence against Indigenous women and girls, including the disproportionate rates of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls in Canada. A variety of responses and actions have been developed by communities and governments, including provincial, territorial, federal and Indigenous governments, however no comprehensive and coordinated response exists. Such a response would bring broader attention, education and focus to prevention and immediate solutions, while enabling local flexibility and decision-making.

To move this dialogue forward and initiate coordinated action, the following three priority areas have been identified for discussion at the National Roundtable to address the disproportionate number of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls:

1. Prevention and Awareness
2. Community Safety
3. Policing Measures and Justice Responses

PRINCIPLES

There is consensus that additional action must be taken now and increased efforts need to be made to assess our progress while ensuring that everything possible is being done for the safety and security of Indigenous women and girls. The National Roundtable presents a unique opportunity for federal, provincial and territorial governments to come together with NAOs and representatives from the families of murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls to move on coordinated actions, prevention and solutions.
It is anticipated that the National Roundtable will result in commitments to prevent, reduce and eliminate violence against Indigenous women and girls, focusing on the three priority areas. Parties to the National Roundtable believe an important foundation for this Framework is agreement on a set of common principles that guide how the Parties work together to prevent and address violence against Indigenous women and girls. Parties to the National Roundtable endorse the following principles:

Human Rights: Violence against Indigenous women and girls implicates numerous human rights including the right to life, to security, to equality and to be free of discrimination.

Shared responsibility: Preventing and addressing violence against Indigenous women and children is a shared responsibility, requiring shared commitments across governments and communities.

Community-based solutions: Solutions to prevent and end violence against Indigenous women and girls must be community-based and led, recognizing the diversity of community situations, and appropriate support given to building community capacity.

A focus on healing: Addressing violence against Indigenous women and children acknowledges the need for improved relationships based on respect and understanding among Indigenous Peoples and non-Indigenous Canadians, and the need for holistic approaches in concert with support for the healing of individuals and communities.

A collaborative focus: Indigenous Peoples must be partners in developing and implementing responses to addressing violence against Indigenous women and girls.

Bringing about behavioral change: Addressing and preventing violence against Indigenous women and girls requires a shift in societal attitudes and behaviours, within individuals, institutions and organizations, including men and boys, who are key agents of that change.

Changing the discourse: Mobilizing Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities to change how we talk about the issues can help re-frame institutional responses, community perspectives and individual attitudes.

These principles underlie recent work as noted in the reports cited in this Framework document that have identified paths forward in developing community-based approaches to ending violence against Indigenous women and girls.

PATHWAYS FORWARD

As a result of the National Roundtable, each federal, provincial and territorial government and each NAO will coordinate efforts toward tangible and immediate actions in each of the priority areas. Together this will constitute a shared national commitment to increased, ongoing collaboration with the development of regionally and community-based and community-driven solutions to prevent and address violence against Indigenous women and girls.

Parties to the National Roundtable have agreed to improve coordination and collaboration across sectors, and amongst each other, along the following high-level pathways, recognizing these areas are fundamentally interconnected and must not be viewed in isolation.

Discussion continues among Parties to the National Roundtable on specific examples of how these pathways can be implemented. Means and processes for implementation will vary based on relationships and priorities among Indigenous communities and organizations and provincial, territorial and federal governments.

Prevention and Awareness

  • Raising public awareness aimed at changing attitudes that devalue Indigenous women and girls and the contributions of Indigenous Peoples as an educational tool for violence prevention.
  • Reducing the marginalization of Indigenous women and girls by improving socio-economic development and outcomes.
  • Improving prevention and responses to violence within intimate relationships and families.

Community Safety

  • Supporting Indigenous communities, organizations and individuals to develop safety initiatives that respond to their unique cultural, traditional and socio-economic needs and realities.
  • Engaging communities, governments, organizations and institutions, in supporting prevention, action, and intervention when violence has occurred.
  • Supporting and addressing safety and healing of individuals, families and communities.

Policing Measures and Justice Responses

  • Improving the relationship between justice sector professionals, including police, and Indigenous Peoples and strengthening community-based policing in Indigenous communities.
  • Identifying strategies within the justice system to protect and assist Indigenous women and girls who are victims of violence.

FOLLOW-UP AND SHARING OF OUTCOMES

All Parties to the National Roundtable commit to continuing to work together in coordinating action to prevent and end violence against Indigenous women and girls. To further solidify these efforts a 2nd National Roundtable will be held by the end of 2016 to discuss progress and continue dialogue on efforts underway and areas for further focus. All Parties commit to work directly with Indigenous communities and organizations to move forward on these priorities and in preparation for the 2nd National Roundtable.

Public accountability is paramount to the continued progress in addressing violence against Indigenous women and girls, including the tragedy of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. Accordingly, Parties to the National Roundtable commit to using their respective reporting and accountability mechanisms to report on their activities and progress and will increase efforts at enhanced public reporting, and sharing information on effective collaboration efforts both within and across jurisdictions, organizations and communities.

BACKGROUND/CONTEXT

It is well understood there are complex and long-standing underlying issues that have brought us to where we are today in respect of the disproportionate levels of violence against Indigenous women and girls which perpetuate this critical situation. Indigenous women and girls are three times more likely to experience violence than non-Indigenous women and this violence results in more serious harm. In May 2014, the RCMP released a National Operational Overview on Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women. The research identified 1,181 missing and murdered Aboriginal women in Canadian police databases between 1980 and 2012; of those 1,017 were murdered, and there are 164 investigations of missing Aboriginal women dating back to 1952.

Indigenous Peoples are not a homogeneous group culturally, traditionally or geographically. Diversity and distinctions exist between and within First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples based on a number of factors including language, cultural beliefs, social structures, geography, governance structures and the existence of Treaties and other agreements with the Crown in some areas. This means effective solutions must be community-based and community-driven. In recognition of this diversity and differences in documented outcomes for various First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples, special attention needs to be given to the development of responses that reflect these differences. Additionally, the varying needs and perspectives of women, youth, Elders, urban, northern and remote populations must also be taken into account.

The safety and well-being of Indigenous women and girls is integral to ensuring healthy and prosperous Indigenous families, communities and nations within Canada. There is no more important role for governments or the state than protecting citizens. Equally, there is no more important role for families or communities than keeping each other safe and promoting safety.

Numerous reports, forums and inquiries have brought attention to this issue, including the seminal Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (1996), the Manitoba Aboriginal Justice Inquiry, (1999), Amnesty International’s Stolen Sisters Report (2004), the BC Missing Women Commission of Inquiry (2012), the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights report on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women in British Columbia, Canada (2014) and each of the reports from the National Aboriginal Women’s Summits 2007-2014.

Jurisdictions and Indigenous communities have responded with a range of activities. Additionally, there are a number of cross-jurisdictional efforts underway to address violence against Aboriginal women and girls in Canada. Frameworks have been developed by the Aboriginal Affairs Ministers and National Aboriginal Leaders Working Group (Framework for Coordinating Action to End Violence Against Aboriginal Women and Girls), the Federal/Provincial/Territorial (FPT) Ministers of Justice and Public Safety (Draft Justice Framework to Address Violence Against Aboriginal Women and Girls) and the FPT Forum of Ministers Responsible for the Status of Women endorsed the Iqaluit Declaration in 2007 to address violence against Aboriginal women.

Federally, a Special Parliamentary Committee on Violence Against Indigenous Women and Girls released its report Invisible Women: A Call to Action – A Report on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women in Canada in March 2014. The Government of Canada provided a response to this report in September 2014 in the 2014 Federal Action Plan to Address Family Violence and Violent Crimes Against Aboriginal Women and Girls.

15.02.27 National Roundtable on Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women and Girls Framework

National Roundtable On Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women and Girls: Working Together To Prevent And Address Violence Against Indigenous Women and Girls

NEWS RELEASE

February 28, 2015 Ottawa, ON: Indigenous families and leaders, Premiers, provincial and territorial Ministers and representatives and Ministers from the Government of Canada met yesterday in Ottawa on needed action to prevent and address violence against Indigenous women and girls. Indigenous women and girls are three times more likely to be victims of violence than non-Indigenous women. In May 2014, the RCMP released a National Operational Overview on Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women. The research identified 1,181 missing and murdered Aboriginal women in Canadian police databases between 1980 and 2012; of those 1,017 were murdered, and there are 164 investigations of missing Aboriginal women dating back to 1952.

In an unprecedented gathering, the National Roundtable on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls included representatives from families of missing and murdered Indigenous women, the Assembly of First Nations, the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples, the Native Women’s Association of Canada, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada, Métis National Council, Les Femmes Michif Otipemisiwak / Women of the Métis Nation, all provinces and territories and the federal government.

Delegates committed to ongoing dialogue and coordinated action in priority areas, including prevention and awareness, community safety, policing measures and justice responses. Specific outcomes include the commitment to gather again in 2016 to assess progress.

The National Roundtable is a result of support expressed by Premiers at a meeting with National Aboriginal Organizations in August 2014. Highlights: Three priority areas were the focus of roundtable discussion and delegates agreed to coordinate efforts toward tangible and immediate action in each.

  • Prevention and Awareness
    • Raising public awareness aimed at changing attitudes that devalue Indigenous women and girls and the contributions of Indigenous Peoples as an educational tool for violence prevention.
    • Reducing the marginalization of Indigenous women and girls by improving socio-economic development and outcomes.
    • Improving prevention and responses to violence within intimate relationships and families.
  • Community Safety
    • Supporting Indigenous communities, organizations and individuals to develop safety initiatives that respond to their unique cultural, traditional and socio-economic needs and realities.
    • Engaging communities, governments, organizations and institutions, in supporting prevention, action, and intervention when violence has occurred.
    • Supporting and addressing safety and healing of individuals, families and communities.
  • Policing Measures and Justice Responses
    • Improving the relationship between justice sector professionals, including police, and Indigenous Peoples and strengthening community-based policing in Indigenous communities.
    • Identifying strategies within the justice system to protect and assist Indigenous women and girls who are victims of violence.

Outcomes and Next Steps:

Delegates of the National Roundtable commit to continuing to work together in coordinating action to prevent and end violence against Indigenous women and girls, including the commitment to a second National Roundtable to be held in 2016. All Parties committed to working directly with Indigenous communities and organizations to move forward on Roundtable commitments to discuss efforts underway, progress and areas for further focus. Parties to the National Roundtable commit to using their respective reporting and accountability mechanisms to report on their activities and progress and will increase efforts at enhanced public reporting, and sharing information on effective collaboration efforts both within and across jurisdictions, organizations and communities.

Parties to the National Roundtable further committed to the development of a prevention and awareness campaign and accepted an invitation from the Province of Manitoba to host an inaugural forum to explore best practices and better coordinate and share information on policing and justice responses.
Quotes:

Ceremonial Family Witness Judy Maas from Blueberry River First Nation: “We will idle no more as our sisters, mothers, daughters, aunties, and grandmothers go missing and continue to be violated by any type of violence. We will no longer remain invisible. We will take our rightful place. Our voices are the voices of those who have suffered. Our children deserve better. We expect nothing less than a formal commitment by governments to implement the recommendations being heard.”

Minister of Labour and Minister of Status of Women Dr. K. Kellie Leitch, P.C., O.Ont., M.P.: “Our Government understands the heavy toll that violence has on victims, families, and communities. That’s why we are committed to taking concrete actions that address family violence and violent crimes against Aboriginal women and girls. And because everyone has a role to play, the Government of Canada will continue working collaboratively with provinces and territories, Aboriginal families, communities and organizations, to address this important issue.”

Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Bernard Valcourt: “Our Government recognizes that addressing violence against Aboriginal women is a shared responsibility that requires commitment to action from all partners, including at the community level. By meeting today and continuing to work together, we are sending a strong message that these abhorrent acts of violence will not be tolerated.”

Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde: “I commend the strength of the families of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls and the leadership of Indigenous organizations, provinces, territories and the federal government for coming together for this unprecedented gathering. Ending violence must be a national priority and we must work together to ensure to uphold the fundamental right to life and security for every Indigenous woman and girl and to live free of discrimination. The commitments we made today must translate into action on the ground to keep Indigenous women and girls safe and secure. We will continue to work with Indigenous families, organizations and all levels of governments to end violence and we will continue the push for a National Public Inquiry to seek justice and to move on long-term solutions.”

Congress of Aboriginal Peoples National Chief Betty Ann Lavallée: “This meeting was a constructive step forward, but there is much more to do. The spirits of our sisters will not rest until justice is done and neither will we.”

Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami President Terry Audla: “There is no one-size-fits all approach to addressing some of the significant issues we have been wrestling with today. Inuit welcome the commitments reached at this meeting and look forward to working with provincial, territorial and federal governments to develop specific means of addressing our most pressing needs, respecting the fact that violence has a human cost, and it also has an economic cost. Inuit live in some of the most remote communities in Canada, and the delivery of and access to programs and services in our homeland will always cost more than it does to provide those same programs and services in Southern Canada.”

Métis National Council President Clément Chartier: The Métis Nation is pleased to witness the forward movement on addressing this most critical matter. The issue of murdered and missing Aboriginal women and girls has been plaguing our communities for far too long and concrete solutions must be explored and implemented. I congratulate the leadership of both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal governments and organizations for taking this progressive step and thank the affected families for their continued determination to seek the justice this violation of life is demanding.”

Les Femmes Michif Otipemisiwak / Women of the Métis Nation President Melanie Omeniho: “I acknowledge the work that has been achieved by bringing together the National Aboriginal Organizations, provinces, territories, the federal government and representatives from the families of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women for this unique meeting. The life, safety and security of Indigenous women, which includes Metis women is a priority for Les Femmes Michif Otipemisiwak. It is an exceptional opportunity to work with other Aboriginal representative organizations and the various levels of government to build on a collective action plan that will assist us in addressing the overwhelming issues that result from the level of violence that some Indigenous women have been a victim of.”

Native Women’s Association of Canada Interim Action President Dr. Dawn Harvard: “We must work together – Aboriginal Peoples and all levels Governments to put in place measures that protect Aboriginal women and girls. Anything less is a denial of our basic human rights. The provinces and territories and Aboriginal Peoples have all supported the call for a national public inquiry and now we need to work together, along with the Federal Government to implement a comprehensive, national framework of action to end violence!”

Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada President Rebecca Kudloo: “We know that Inuit women and children are at the greatest risk of violence in their homes and our members feel prevention is the most important and urgent issue to be addressed after this roundtable. They have told us that unresolved trauma and abuse is the most significant underlying cause to be addressed, and we look forward to a whole-of-government response in working together to address this major physical and mental health issue.”

Alberta Legislative Secretary for Aboriginal Education and Jobs, Skills, and Training Pearl Calahasen: “The discussions we had at today’s national roundtable were incredibly valuable. The Alberta government remains committed to taking action on the issue of missing and murdered Aboriginal women and girls by continuing its work with Aboriginal leaders, communities and organizations to find solutions. ”

British Columbia Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation John Rustad: “This significant gathering has resulted in a level of discussion never seen before and I thank the family members of missing and murdered Aboriginal women who dedicated their time and displayed great courage telling their stories. The B.C. government has taken action on all major themes from our provincial Missing Women Commission of Inquiry and we will continue to work with our Aboriginal partners on the systemic changes needed to create a legacy of safety for Aboriginal women and girls. This work, and our efforts nationwide, will be enriched by today’s dialogue.”

Manitoba Premier Gregory Selinger: “This Roundtable is about the families from across the country who have suffered an unimaginable and tragic loss. Mothers, daughter, sisters and wives have been taken from them and their families are left behind to pick up the pieces. For some families, they have the heartbreaking task of caring for children who will never see their mothers again. This gathering helps us to move forward on addressing the critical issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls in Canada.”

New Brunswick Minister Responsible for the Aboriginal Affairs Secretariat Dr. Ed. Doherty M.D.: “Violence against Aboriginal women and girls impacts Aboriginal communities and families throughout New Brunswick. We are pleased to have this opportunity to work together and stimulate discussion and collaboration in addressing violence against aboriginal women and girls not only in New Brunswick, but across the country”.

Newfoundland and Labrador Minister of Justice and Public Safety and Attorney General Judy Manning: “In 2014, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador supported a provincial, all-party resolution calling for a national inquiry into missing and murdered Aboriginal women and girls. We are prepared to work with the Government of Canada on such an initiative and committed to cooperating with all jurisdictions to eliminate all forms of violence against Aboriginal women and girls. We acknowledge those families and individuals that attended the Family and Peoples Gatherings, and we thank them for having the courage to share their stories.”

Northwest Territories Premier Bob Mcleod: “Our experience in the Northwest Territories is that we are stronger and more successful when we work together as partners. This has been at the foundation of our commitment to engage with Aboriginal governments and organizations in the spirit of respect, recognition and responsibility. As the Chair of the National Roundtable I am very encouraged by the willingness of all the participants to engage in a meaningful national dialogue about concrete action and solutions to address the crisis of violence against Indigenous women and girls.”

Nova Scotia’s Minister of Community Services and Status of Women Joanne Bernard: “I am honoured to have participated in this important and timely discussion. I urge all Canadians to become more engaged and aware as we move to address the disproportionate rates of missing and murdered Aboriginal women and girls.”

Nunavut Minister of Family Services Jeannie Ugyuk: “Keeping Indigenous women and girls safe and well is a shared, national responsibility; one that can no longer be ignored. I am humbled to have been part of today’s gathering. On behalf of the Government of Nunavut, I commit to working towards a framework to end this violence once and for all.”

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne: “Too many Aboriginal women and girls have experienced violence, been murdered or gone missing. This loss not only affects aboriginal communities across the country, but Canada as a whole. I am proud that Ontario has joined leaders across Canada to ensure that Aboriginal women and girls can live safely and reach their full potential.”

Prince Edward Island Minister of Community Services and Seniors and Minister Responsible for the Status of Women Valerie E. Docherty: “Now is the time to take action and address the crisis of the disproportionate number of indigenous women and girls who are missing or murdered in Canada. By working together respectfully we can improve the lives of Indigenous women, girls and their families. I am hopeful that the work accomplished today will initiate collaborative efforts from all levels of government and Aboriginal organizations that will result in achievable action items.”

Quebec Minister responsible for Native Affairs Geoffrey Kelley, and Minister of Justice Ms. Stéphanie Vallée: “In August 2014, during the meetings of the Council of the Federation, the Government of Quebec supported the proposal by First Nations members that a national roundtable be created to study the issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women. We are already working on the wide variety of issues that arise from violence against Indigenous women with First Nations organizations in Québec, but we know that we can always do more. Our presence here today is a reflection of our willingness to collaborate with the other provinces as well as the federal government to share our resources and our experiences so as to end violence against Indigenous women and girls.”

Saskatchewan Minister of Justice and Attorney General Gordon Wyant: “I’m proud of the services offered in Saskatchewan to help address violence against Aboriginal women and girls, as well as initiatives geared towards prevention and awareness. We recognize that more needs to be done and by working together, we can share ideas and develop appropriate responses to reduce the risk of violence against Aboriginal women across the country.”

Yukon Premier Darrell Pasloski: “On behalf of the Government of Yukon and all Yukoners, I reaffirm our commitment to preventing violence against Aboriginal women and girls. I also want to acknowledge the strength and resilience of the family members who attended the roundtable, and the determination of everyone here to create communities where Aboriginal women and girls are safe.”

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Contacts:

Patricia D’Souza, Senior Communications Officer, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, 613-292-4482 mobile dsouza@itk.ca

Daniel Wilson, Director of Policy and Media Relations, Congress of Aboriginal Peoples 613-747-6022 ext 202 OR 613-809-8147 mobile d.wilson@abo-peoples.org

Claudette Dumont-Smith, Executive Director, Native Women’s Association of Canada, 613-722-3033 ext. 223 or cdumontsmith@nwac.ca OR Gail Gallagher 613-722-3033 ext. 225, ggallagher@nwac.ca 613-290-5680

Jenna Young Castro Communications Officer, Assembly of First Nations, 613-314-8157 mobile jyoung@afn.ca

Alain Garon, Bilingual Communications Officer, Assembly of First Nations 613-292-0857 mobile agaron@afn.ca

15.02.27 National Roundtable on Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women and Girls

NWAC Announces New Interim President

PRESS RELEASE – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

(February 11, 2015) (Ottawa, ON) – The Native Women’s Association of Canada is announcing a change in leadership. Effective immediately, current President, Michèle Audette has stepped down and 1st Vice President, Dr. Dawn Harvard, will take over as interim President for the remainder of the term.

Michèle Audette has been President of NWAC for two and one-half years and in that time has committed herself to the social, economic, cultural and political well being of First Nations and Métis women within First Nation, Métis and Canadian societies. “During her term as president, Michèle Audette, has been successful in bringing national and international attention to the many issues affecting Aboriginal women, especially that of the missing and murdered Aboriginal women and girls”, stated Claudette Dumont-Smith, Executive Director of NWAC. “Michèle has made the difficult, yet personal decision to step back from her role as President, and NWAC is very thankful and appreciative of all her hard work and dedication and wishes her the best in all her future endeavors”, Dumont-Smith further stated.

During this time of transition, NWAC remains committed to its’ goal of achieving equality for all Aboriginal women in Canada, and NWAC will continue to work hard and advocate for positive change under the leadership of Dr. Dawn Harvard who will serve as Interim President until the next AGA and election take place. Dr. Harvard is more than qualified for the important task at hand after serving for two and one-half years as NWAC’s 1st Vice President. In addition to her new role as Interim President, Harvard is a proud member of the Wikwemikong First Nation, the first Aboriginal Trudeau Scholar, and President of the Ontario Native Women’s Association, and a full-time mother of three girls.

Dr. Harvard has been working for the empowerment of Aboriginal women and their families from a young age, after following in the footsteps of her mother Jeannette Corbiere Lavell, a noted advocate for Indigenous women’s rights and former NWAC President. Dr. Harvard was also presented with the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee medal in 2012 in recognition of her ongoing commitment to breaking the cycles of poverty for Aboriginal families and increasing awareness on the tragic situation of the many missing and murdered Aboriginal women in Canada.

“I am grateful to accept the challenge before me and remain committed to advancing the mission and goals of NWAC and want to thank all who support the work of NWAC. Together we can make a difference in improving the lives of Aboriginal women in Canada,” said incoming President Harvard

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 information please contact:

Claudette Dumont-Smith Executive Director
1 Nicholas Street, 9th Floor
Ottawa, ON K1N 7B7
Toll free 1-800-461-4043
Tel.: 613-722-3033 x. 223
cdumontsmith@nwac.ca

15.02.11 NWAC Announces New Interim President

Murders and disappearances of Indigenous women caused by inequality, marginalization – Canada must act to prevent violence: Inter-American Commission on Human Rights

PRESS RELEASE – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

(January 12, 2015) (OTTAWA and VANCOUVER) A groundbreaking investigation by the leading human rights body for the Americas points to Canada’s history of colonization, long-standing inequality, and economic and social marginalization as the root causes of violence against Indigenous women. It says national co-ordinated action is required by Canadian governments.

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, which is an arm of the Organization of American States, launched an investigation into the murders and disappearances of Indigenous women and girls in British Columbia in 2012, and released its report today. It finds Canada is obligated under international human rights law to prevent the violence by taking measures to deal with poverty, access to housing and employment, and disproportionate criminalization. The report also strongly supports a nation-wide inquiry into the crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women.

The investigation was initiated at the request of the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) and the Canadian Feminist Alliance for International Action (FAFIA). “This report is ground-breaking,” says NWAC Vice-President Dawn Harvard. “It is the first in-depth examination by an expert human rights body of the murders and disappearances of Indigenous women in Canada.”
Four key conclusions apply in all parts of Canada. “First, Canada is legally required to address the violence against Indigenous women fully and effectively,” says Harvard. “This is not a matter of choice. Our obligations under international human rights law require us to eliminate the discrimination which causes the violence and to ensure that Canada’s institutions—including the police and the justice system—respond effectively when Indigenous women disappear or are murdered.”

“Second,” says Mavis Erickson, Women’s Advocate for the Carrier Sekani Tribal Council which represents Indigenous peoples in northern British Columbia, “the Commission made a key finding of fact. The Commission concluded that the root causes of the high levels of violence against Indigenous women lie in a history of discrimination beginning with colonization and continuing through laws and policies such as the Indian Act and residential schools.”

“The Commission says this history laid the foundations for pervasive violence and created the risks Indigenous women face today, through economic marginalization, social dislocation and psychological trauma,. In this way,” says Sharon McIvor of FAFIA, the Commission’s report directly refutes the Prime Minister’s claim that this is a matter of individual crimes, not a social
phenomenon. The Commission says clearly that there is a broad and known pattern of heightened risk and vulnerability, and the risk factors must be addressed.”

Leilani Farha, Executive Director of Canada Without Poverty and the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Adequate Housing noted the Commission’s clarity on the relationship between Indigenous women’s experiences of violence and their disadvantaged social and economic conditions. “The Commission has told Canada, unequivocally, that it must take effective measures to address risk factors, and specifically that Canada must combat the poverty of Indigenous women, improve education and employment, guarantee adequate housing and address the disproportionate application of the criminal law against them.”

“This broad understanding of the scope of Canada’s obligations explains why the report says implementing the Oppal Inquiry’s recommendations in British Columbia is necessary, but just a starting point for reforms in one area,” says Shelagh Day of FAFIA.

“The third key point,” said Claudette Dumont-Smith, Executive Director of NWAC, “is that both federal and provincial governments have responsibility for the legal status and conditions of Indigenous women and their communities. This is not only a provincial matter, nor should it be a political football tossed back and forth between levels of government.”

“The Inter-American Commission is clear. Canada must provide a co-ordinated, national response to the violence. This is what we have been working for and what we do not yet have.”

“Finally, the Inter-American Commission strongly supports a nation-wide inquiry,” said Holly Johnson, Chair of FAFIA. “Despite this report and others, the Commission says there is much more to understand and to acknowledge if we are to effectively address the crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women in Canada.”

“This is a crucial conclusion. The message of the Inter-American Commission is that Canada has a lot of work to do, and it must be done by all levels of government, with the full participation of Indigenous women, and with effective nation-wide co-ordination.”

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Media Contacts:
Claudette Dumont-Smith, Executive Director, NWAC, 613-722-3033 X 223
Sharon McIvor, Human Rights Committee, FAFIA, 250-378-7479
Shelagh Day, Human Rights Committee, FAFIA, 604-872-0750
Holly Johnson, Chair, FAFIA, 613-355-5582
Leilani Farha, Executive Director, Canada Without Poverty, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Adequate Housing, 613-302-7769
Mavis Erickson, Carrier Sekani Tribal Council Women’s Advocate, 250-649-6858 (Prince George)

Additional Contact:
Gwen Brodsky, counsel to NWAC at the Oppal Inquiry and counsel to NWAC and FAFIA for the IACHR investigation, 604-874-9211
Elizabeth Sheehy, Vice-Dean, Professor of Law, University of Ottawa, 613-562-5800 X 3317
The IACHR report can be found at www.fafia-afai.org and at www.oas.org/en/iachr/reports/pdfs/Indigenous-Women-BC-Canada-en.pdf

15.01.12 Canada Must Act to Prevent Violence MMIW Inter-American Commission on HR

Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) and the Canadian Feminist Alliance for International Action (FAFIA) Respond to the Inter-American Commissions’ Report on Canada’s Failure to Address the High Rates of Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women

MEDIA ADVISORY

January 9, 2015 [Ottawa, ON] – On January 12, 2015 the Inter‑American Commission on Human Rights, which is an arm of the Organization of American States, will issue a report on its investigation into the murders and disappearances of Indigenous women and girls in British Columbia. The investigation was requested by the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) and the Feminist Alliance for International Action (FAFIA) in March 2012.

This report is the first in‑depth examination by an expert human rights body of the murders and disappearances of Indigenous women in Canada with key recommendations for Federal, Provincial/Territorial Governments to address the situation.

On January 12, NWAC and FAFIA will hold a press conference during which Dr. Dawn Harvard (NWAC), Holly Johnson (FAFIA), Claudette Dumont‑Smith, Executive Director of NWAC and Leilani Farha, Executive Director of Canada Without Poverty and United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Adequate Housing, will present their response.

Time: 10:30AM

Date: Monday, January 12, 2015

Location: Charles Lynch Room, Parliament Building – Centre Block

Media Contacts:

Claudette Dumont-Smith, 613-722-3033 X 223, cdumontsmith@nwac.ca

Dr. Dawn Harvard, NWAC President, 905-441-4097, mharvard@sympatico.ca

Sharon McIvor, FAFIA, 250-378-7479, bearclaw@shaw.ca

Shelagh Day, FAFIA, 604-872-0750, shelagh.day@gmail.com

Holly Johnson, 613-355-5582, holly.johnson@uottawa.ca

Leilani Farha, 613-302-7769, leilani@cwp-csp.ca

Mavis Erickson, Women’s Advocate, Carrier Sekani Tribal Council, 250 649‑6858, cyl16@netbistro.com

 

15.01.09 NWAC and FAFIA Respond to the Inter-Commissions’ Report on Canada’s Failure to Address MMAW

 

 

NWAC Congratulates AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde

PRESS RELEASE – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

(December 12, 2014) (Ottawa, ON) – The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) would like to congratulate Perry Bellegarde, who was elected National Chief at the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) Special Chiefs Assembly at the recent gathering in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

NWAC is looking forward to working with National Chief Perry Bellegarde to help push for an inquiry into the missing and murdered Aboriginal women, a national action plan to address violence and also to work on other key issues such as economic prosperity and stability, education, health and social reform. “NWAC congratulates National Chief Bellegarde on his victory and looks forward to continuing to work with the AFN on matters of mutual interest and concern. We wish him great success in all his endeavors as National Chief,” said President Michèle Taïna Audette.
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 wellbeing 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.

For additional information please contact:

Claudette Dumont-Smith, Executive Director
Toll free 1-800-461-4043
Tel.: 613-722-3033 x. 223
cdumontsmith@nwac.ca

14.12.12 NWAC Congratulates Perry Bellegarde AFN National Chief

Recipient Of The Vox Libra Award

PRESS RELEASE – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

(December 8, 2014) (Ottawa, ON) – The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) was the recipient of the Vox Libera Award at the 2014 Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) Gala on December 3 in Toronto.

NWAC received this award for their ongoing work and tireless effort, over the past several years, to bring national and international attention to the high numbers of missing and murdered Aboriginal women and girls and of the unacceptable high rates of violence experienced by many. Through their groundbreaking research carried out through the Sisters in Spirit Initiative, during 2005-2010, NWAC created a comprehensive database that listed 582 Aboriginal women and girls who went missing or were murdered between 1960 and 2010.

“Through its tireless work NWAC has brought the issue of missing and murdered Aboriginal women and girls in Canada to the fore,” said Carol Off, Chair of the CJFE Gala. “Their work to bring this systemic problem to light is exactly what the Vox Libera represents. We are very honoured to be presenting NWAC with this award.”

NWAC Vice-President Dr. Dawn Harvard accepted the award on the organization’s behalf. In her acceptance speech Dawn said, in reference to the many missing Aboriginal women and girls, “They’re not missing. They’re not like so many misplaced keys, or your wallet, or your sunglasses. These women and girls were stolen.”

NWAC continues to call for a national public inquiry and a comprehensive action plan to address the crisis of missing and murdered Aboriginal women in Canada. NWAC will continue to work at raising the awareness of issues affecting Aboriginal women and for widespread policy changes so they can achieve equality to that of other women in Canadian society.

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 Canada. 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 additional information, please contact:

Claudette Dumont Smith, Executive Director
1-800-461-4043 or cdumontsmith@nwac.ca

14.12.08 Recipient of the Vox Libera Award

25 Years Later – Violence is Still Rampant in Canada

PRESS RELEASE – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

(December 5, 2014) (Ottawa, ON) – The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) recognizes the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women and solemnly acknowledges the 25th anniversary of the murders of 14 young women at l’École Polytechnique de Montréal and the ongoing violence against Aboriginal women and girls. “We mourn the high rates of violence against Aboriginal women, and we are very concerned for the safety and security of all women,” said Michèle Audette, President of the Native Women’s Association of Canada.

“We need to work together – Aboriginal Peoples and all Governments to put in place measures that protect our women and young girls. The provinces and territories and Aboriginal Peoples have all supported the call for a national public inquiry and now we need to work together, along with the Federal Government to implement a comprehensive, national framework of action to end violence!” NWAC honours the 1181 missing and murdered Aboriginal women and girls in Canada along with the women at l’École Polytechnique de Montréal. Sadly, we continue to add names to the list of those lost to violence. NWAC has worked with Aboriginal families and communities who have been affected by violence, to raise awareness of the crisis and to develop tools that will assist those who have lost a loved one to violence, and to prevent violence.

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 Canada. 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 additional information please contact:

Claudette Dumont Smith, Executive Director
1-800-461-4043 or cdumontsmith@nwac.ca

14.12.04 Violence is still Rampant in Canada

The President of the Native Women’s Association named as Women of the Year!

PRESS RELEASE – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

November 21, 2014 (Ottawa, ON) – Michèle Audette, president of the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) has been selected ‘Woman of the Year 2014’ by the Montreal Council of Women (MCW). President Audette, along with Nakuset from the Native women’s shelter of Montreal, are being honoured for their exceptional work, dedication and perseverance both have shown over the course of their career to improve the lives of Aboriginal women.

The MWC publicly recognizes and honours exceptional women who have made significant contributions to society. The recipient(s) of this prestigious award is an exceptional woman, who through her daily actions, her strength of character and political path, contributes to the advancement and well-being of women. She is a role model, who inspires others to excel, has worked to facilitate the advancement of women by breaking down barriers; has outstanding leadership skills, courage and resourcefulness, has initiated innovative actions, programs and is an inspiration to others.

NWAC is proud and very pleased that President Audette is being recognized for her many achievements and is being honoured for the work that she is doing to improve the lives of Aboriginal women in Canada.

Congratulations President Audette!

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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

14.11.21 NWAC President Women of the Year

Women Ask Leaders, “Are You Up For Debate?” Organizations across Canada ask federal party leaders to commit to a debate on women in the upcoming election

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Ottawa, November 4, 2014. An alliance of 100 organizations from across the country has called for a federal election debate focused on women in 2015. Speaking at a morning press conference on Parliament Hill, YWCA Canada, the Native Women’s Association of Canada and Oxfam Canada said women’s rights must be an election issue, and called on all federal parties to make meaningful commitments to change women’s lives for the better, in Canada and abroad.

“What works for women works for Canada,” said Paulette Senior, CEO of YWCA Canada. “The first and only federal leaders’ debate on women took place thirty years ago. It’s long past time for the second one. For many women Canada is a better country than in 1984, but we haven’t achieved equality, and certainly not for all women.”

The press conference was organized by Up for Debate, a campaign to create a national conversation on gender equality in the lead up to the 2015 federal election. The campaign is led by an alliance of over 100 organizations — women’s groups in every region of the country, Aboriginal associations, community groups, international development organizations, faith-based groups and labour – representing over 3.5 million Canadians.

Up for Debate is calling on all party leaders to commit to participate in a nationally broadcast leaders’ debate focused on policies and issues that impact women’s lives once the election is called.
“Can we really say that the battle for women’s rights had been won when over 1100 Aboriginal women and girls have been murdered in Canada since 1980, and each day more than 8,000 women and children seek protection from a shelter to escape violence and abuse?” asked Claudette Dumont-Smith, Executive Director of the Native Women’s Association of Canada. “It’s time for a national conversation about building a Canada that works for all women.”

The alliance notes that although today more women than ever before are graduating from university, entering new professions and running for public office, women still make up the majority of the poor, earn 20% less than their male peers for the same work, and do twice as much unpaid work at home.

Critical issues for women like childcare, pay equity and affordable housing have received scant attention in the 2011 leaders’ debates. Yet in that election, over half a million more women than men turned out to vote.

“Canadian women are up for the debate about what this country should look like. We’re asking the party leaders: are you?” said Paulette Senior.
Around the world, women continue to face economic exclusion and marginalization. Julie Delahanty, Executive Director of Oxfam Canada, explained that women’s leadership is key to achieving a world free from injustice and poverty.

“Women and their organizations are a powerful force for change. And yet, women’s organizations around the world do their courageous and tireless work on shoestring budgets”, Delahanty said. She made the case for increased support for women’s organizations, both in Canada and in developing countries, so that they can offer frontline services to women and address the root causes of discrimination and inequality.

In concluding the press conference, Up for Debate spokespeople reiterated their call for leaders to agree to a debate on women’s issues once the election is called, and make meaningful commitments to ensure that women everywhere have equal rights, access to resources, and can live lives free from violence.

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

14.02.12 Women Ask Leaders, Are You Up For Debate

Leaders of National Aboriginal Organizations and Provincial and Territorial Representatives set date and start planning for a National Roundtable on Murdered and Missing Women

PRESS RELEASE- FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Membertou, NS – October 22, 2014 – Today leaders from National Aboriginal Organizations and Northwest Territories Premier Robert McLeod, along with Ministers and officials from Provinces and Territories met to prepare for a National Roundtable on murdered and missing Indigenous women.

This meeting was a tangible step forward on the Roundtable. All present agreed that the National Roundtable will take place in February 2015 to coincide with an upcoming meeting of the Aboriginal Affairs Working Group and recognized the urgency of this issue including the need to collectively move forward on solutions. The focal point of the roundtable is preventing and addressing violence including the most extreme cases that result in missing and murdered Indigenous women.

The Roundtable will bring together Indigenous leaders and representatives, Provincial and Territorial Ministers. Federal Ministers will formally be invited to the Roundtable.
This meeting builds on a commitment between Premiers and National Aboriginal leaders made in Charlottetown on August 27, 2014 to support convening a National Roundtable discussion with the federal government on the issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women.

Organizations represented in the meeting include: the Assembly of First Nations (AFN), Métis National Council, Congress of Aboriginal Peoples, Inuit Tapiriit Kantami, Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC), Les Femmes Michif Otipemisiwak / Women of the Métis Nation, and Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada.
“Creating safe, healthy and thriving communities is a priority for First Nations across Canada, and we are working to ensure concrete action to end violence against Indigenous women and girls,” said AFN Regional Chief Morley Googoo who participated in the National Aboriginal Women’s Roundtable (NAWS) this week as well as preparatory meetings for the National Roundtable. “Bringing all parties together to build on existing recommendations and to confirm action and implement solutions to address the root causes of why so many Indigenous women remain vulnerable is essential as we move forward.”

“NWAC is pleased that the issue of violence against Aboriginal women and girls is being recognized as an urgent matter that requires a collaborative approach involving the community, the provincial/territorial and federal governments. NWAC is committed to working towards the elimination of all forms of violence towards Aboriginal women and their girls”, said Native Women’s Association Vice-President Dr. Dawn Harvard.

“The Métis Nation is pleased with the progress made today by Aboriginal Leaders, Premier McLeod and provincial and territorial Ministers in moving forward in a formalized process which will lead to a national roundtable convened to address the critical issue of murdered and missing Aboriginal women and girls” stated President Clément Chartier of the Métis National Council.
President of Women of the Métis Nation, Melanie Omeniho, stated, “I am particularly pleased that this monumental step was taken on the final day of the NAWS IV gathering here in Membertou signifying a real and positive agreement by both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal leaders to take a pro-active approach, taking into account the decisions of the gathering which I believe will help guide the deliberations which will be undertaken by the proposed round table.”

Congress of Aboriginal Peoples National Chief Betty Ann Lavallée “We are committed to taking all action to support the safety of our women, children, men and boys. I commend the provinces and territories for standing with us and want to particularly thank Premier McLeod for his leadership. It is time for the federal government to join us and work together to prevent and end violence in all of its forms.”

Rebecca Kudloo, President of the Inuit Women’s Association of Canada, also representing at the meeting Terry Audla, President of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, said “The outcome of today’s meeting is a very positive development in working together to end violence against Inuit women, girls and children. Violence is at crisis levels in many of our communities, which lack basic essential services that are taken for granted in most of Canada. We look forward to working with the provinces and territories, and hope that our federal partners will join us as well.”

Terry Audla, President of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, added “Canada has to rise as one big community to tackle violence that is ruining so many lives and families and preventing us from building better future for our children across Inuit Nunangat. I thank and commend Pauktuutit for its dedicated work on these issues over the last 30 years. ”

Premier Robert McLeod, from the Northwest Territories chaired this initial planning meeting and stated “This was a very positive step and I am encouraged by the support of attending Ministers and Leaders. We all recognized the need to bring people together so we can focus on the action required and look forward to further engagement with National Aboriginal Organizations, and provincial, territorial, and federal Ministers.”

 

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

14.10.22 Joint Statement on National Roundtable