We Believe You; NWAC Stands With The Sisters of Val-d’Or at the Human Rights Monument Tuesday

November 21, 2016 (Ottawa, ON)  The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) is calling on all partners and concerned citizens to join them in recognizing the tragic outcome of the complaints filed by Indigenous women in Val-d’Or and other rural regions against members of the Quebec police force.  In support of these women and Quebec Native Women Inc. (QNW), this event is dedicated to raising awareness of systemic violence against Indigenous women, demonstrating support for the brave women who came forward with their allegations of abuse, and addressing the issue of police accountability.  

What: We Believe You; Standing With The Sisters of Val-d’Or

When: 6:00pm Tuesday, November 22nd, 2016

Where: The Human Rights Monument on Elgin Street, Ottawa, Ontario

After media attention was brought to a number of complaints regarding sexual violence and abuse of power by Quebec police officers in Val-d’Or and other rural regions in October of 2015, an investigation failed to produce any charges.  The Crown has cited a lack of evidence as the reason for this disappointing outcome.  

A recently released report by the United Nations (UN) has urged Canada to address the “continued high prevalence” of gender-based violence, with special regard to that against Indigenous women and girls.   A “very low” number of cases involving violence against women combined with low rates of prosecution and conviction against perpetrators are systemic failures identified by the UN as being specific to Canada. Failures to press charges after abuses are reported, as seen in Val-d’Or, are exemplary of why women aren’t coming forward.

“If you can’t go to police expecting to be protected, that’s going to lead to such despair and depression and anger … and disrupt any growing positive relationship with the policing system,” said NWAC President Francyne Joe on the subject of Val-d’Or and its greater scope.

NWAC will host speakers including NWAC President Francyne Joe and Executive Director Lynne Groulx .  A mirror event will be hosted by Quebec Native Women Inc. (QNW) in Montreal. Viviane Michel, President of Quebec Native Women, said this week “We issue a message to the Quebec population to believe these women.  Show these women, these victims, that there is someone, somewhere, who believes them.”

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 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

Official Statement on 2016 Federal Budget

(March 31, 2016) (Ottawa, ON) – The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) has carefully reviewed the federal budget as presented by the newly-elected federal government in the House of Commons on Tuesday, March 22, 2016.

NWAC welcomes this budget’s investments in Indigenous peoples ― particularly those targeting the structural discrimination facing Indigenous women and girls, who are among the most disadvantaged demographic globally.

Given our decades of work lobbying government, NWAC is extremely pleased to learn of the long-awaited fulfillment of the two-year, $40 million national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women. Likewise, our organization is pleased to learn of significant funding commitments for renovations and construction of new shelters for survivors of gender-based violence both within and outside Indigenous communities.

While NWAC shares concerns over the staggered five-year funding projection for certain social programming known to require immediate action as indicated by the United Nations and the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights, NWAC welcomes new investments in clean water and housing for Indigenous peoples living on reserves and support for early learning and childcare for Indigenous families. We know that social infrastructure investments are beneficial and greatly needed.

It is NWAC’s ongoing hope that this new government ensures that our public institutions listen attentively to expert advisors and grassroots groups, complies with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and works to implement clear, action-based legislation that will rectify the severe discrimination faced by Indigenous women and girls and all Indigenous peoples living both on and off reserve in Canada.

While this budget marks a clear change in federal priorities from previous governments, NWAC seeks to underscore the need for ongoing vigilance in ensuring that these investments are in fact fully implemented. In particular, it is NWAC’s sincere hope that the national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women is undertaken in a fulsome, pragmatic and entirely non-partisan manner.

The Native Women’s Association of Canada looks to the future with cautious optimism, and will continue fighting for the rights of Indigenous women and girls until our needs are sufficiently met, and until we have achieved the full equality that we deserve.
QUOTE

“Though our women and girls are strong, resilient and capable of great things, due to post-colonial practice and racial and sexual discrimination, we have not been handed the same opportunities as others. This budget marks a dramatic change in federal priorities from the previous government’s record. Though I share some of the same concerns held by other stakeholder groups and individuals, overall, I see this budget as a step forward for Indigenous peoples. This year, it would seem that our voices have finally been heard. I look forward to working with this new government in a productive, transparent and respectful manner; keeping the social, economic and political advancement of our Indigenous women and girls a top priority every step of the way.”
―Dawn Lavell-Harvard, President of the Native Women’s Association of Canada

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FOR MORE INFORMATION & FOR MEDIA REQUESTS:

Jenn Jefferys
Native Women’s Association of Canada
jjefferys@nwac.ca
+1 613-485-1988

NWAC Congratulates 7 Newly-Appointed Senators


(March 30, 2016) (Ottawa, ON) ― The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) seeks to extend sincere congratulations to the seven newly-appointed Canadian Senators announced by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Friday, March 18, 2016.

Justice Murray Sinclair, Chantal Petitclerc, V. Peter Harder, Frances Lankin, Ratna Omidvar, Raymonde Gagné, and André Pratte are all impeccably accomplished individuals. NWAC is confident that these new appointments will contribute to a more robust, independent and representative legislative process in Canada.

NWAC seeks to extend special congratulations to our dear friend, Justice Murray Sinclair, who chaired the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). From his work as a Judge in Manitoba, to his passion and dedication toward delivering the historic TRC report recommendations, Justice Sinclair has dedicated his entire life to reconciling Indigenous and Western relations. He is a truly suitable candidate for this prestigious high office.

On behalf of all staff, members, and provincial and territorial associations, congratulations! We look forward to working with you for the betterment of Indigenous women and girls.

QUOTE:

“Each of these individuals is a shining embodiment of accomplishment. I am confident in their collective ability to uphold the independence, diplomacy and non-partisan leadership that this high office demands. Congratulations!”
―Claudette Dumont-Smith, Executive Director of the 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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MEDIA REQUESTS:

Jenn Jefferys
Native Women’s Association of Canada
+1 613-485-1988 |  jjefferys@nwac.ca

Statement on NWAC Exclusion from March 2016 First Ministers Meeting

Official Statement from Dawn Lavell-Harvard on the Exclusion of the Native Women’s Association of Canada from March 2016 First Ministers Meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia

 

INDIGENOUS WOMEN AND GIRLS DESERVE A PLACE AT THE TABLE


(March 2, 2016) (Vancouver, BC) ― When former Prime Minister Paul Martin hosted the First Ministers and National Aboriginal Leaders meeting in the lead up to the Kelowna Accord in 2005, the Native Women’s Association of Canada was at the table.

Today, during this critical First Ministers Meeting in Vancouver, without clear explanation or justification, the Native Women’s Association of Canada was not invited.

Despite our strength, resilience and natural role as life givers – as the very heartbeat of our communities – for decades, Indigenous women and girls have struggled to have our voices heard.

Over the years, we have been categorically silenced, excluded, and forced out of critical decision-making processes by Indigenous and non-Indigenous men alike as a result of sexism, racism, and patriarchal systemic barriers.

To that end, in protest for my not receiving an official invitation to this First Ministers Meeting, I am present here in Vancouver today to fight for Indigenous women and girls from across Canada.

Choosing to exclude the Native Women’s Association of Canada from the First Ministers Meeting was unfair, and speaks volumes to the ongoing lack of respect for Indigenous women’s and girls’ voices in Canada.

While NWAC welcomes the decision to call a National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (an historic and long-awaited undertaking which NWAC was the first to call for), we refuse to be excluded from major meetings and consultations with the government, particularly with the Prime Minister.

Indigenous women and girls deserve a place at the table.

Sincerely,
Inline image 1

Dawn Lavell-Harvard
President
Native Women’s Association of Canada

 


FOR MEDIA INQUIRIES:

Jenn Jefferys
Native Women’s Association of Canada
jjefferys@nwac.ca
+1 613-485-1988

NWAC Welcomes ON Government’s New Long-Term Strategy to Curb VAIWG

STATEMENT

 

NWAC Welcomes Ontario Government’s New Long-Term Strategy to Curb Violence Against Indigenous Women and Girls

 

(February 24, 2016) (Ottawa, ON) ― Yesterday, the Government of Ontario  announced a new long-term strategy and investment called Walking Together: Ontario’s Long-Term Strategy to End Violence Against Indigenous Women. The strategy outlines actions to prevent violence against Indigenous women and girls and to reduce its impact on youth, families and communities. Its ultimate goal is to work toward ending violence against Indigenous women and girls.
The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) welcomes this new strategy and the leadership of Premier Kathleen Wynne, and trusts that NWAC and our provincial affiliate; the Ontario Native Women’s Association (ONWA) will be regularly consulted through the course of this long-term strategy.

President of the Native Women’s Association of Canada, Dawn Lavell-Harvard, Ph.D., has issued the following statement in response to this new strategy from the Ontario government:

“Despite our strength and incredible resilience, Indigenous women and girls are subject to blatant systemic oppression and discrimination. To that end, NWAC is hopeful that with this new strategy on the part of the Ontario government ―in tandem with the ongoing national inquiry on the national level― we will begin to see a reduction in violence, fewer missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, less sexism and racism against us, and a more realistic public awareness around the strength and resilience of our women and girls; because we are not vulnerable victims. To the contrary: we are strong, and we deserve respect.”

 

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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MEDIA REQUESTS:

Jenn Jefferys
Native Women’s Association of Canada
+1 613-722.3033 ext. 235
+1 613-485-1988 (cell)
jjefferys@nwac.ca