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

 


FOR MEDIA INQUIRIES:

Jenn Jefferys
Native Women’s Association of Canada
[email protected]
+1 613-485-1988

NWAC Stands with Downtown Eastside Today During 26th Annual Women’s Memorial March

NWAC Stands with Downtown Eastside Today During 26th Annual Women’s Memorial March


(February 14, 2016) (Ottawa, ON/Vancouver, BC)
― Today, for the 26th consecutive year, the Annual Women’s Memorial March for missing and murdered Indigenous women took place on Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. This march is held to honour the memory of all those who have died due to physical, mental, emotional and spiritual violence in the region.

The Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, British Columbia has seen some of the most horrific violence against Indigenous women and girls in the country. As a result of police inaction, racism, sexism, poverty and socio-economic structures which continue to disproportionately disadvantage Indigenous women and girls, the Downtown Eastside has seen more than 100 Indigenous women murdered. This is unacceptable.

Dawn Lavell-Harvard, President of the Native Women’s Association of Canada, says: “Twenty-six years ago, rather than succumbing to grief, grassroots feminist activists boldly took to the streets to honour these stolen sisters from the Downtown Eastside. Today, we will continue to march on in a way that only Indigenous women can. NWAC is proud to stand with you. Thank you for your unwavering grace and strength amid this sorrow. My heart is with you.”

Nikki Fraser, Western Youth Representative for the Native Women’s Association of Canada, says: “Today, both here in BC and across Canada, we must look to our Elders and our traditions, and refocus our efforts to end violence against our sisters. We must ensure that our daughters do not have to witness these tragedies reoccur.”

NWAC will continue to put pressure on the federal government to ensure the forthcoming national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women provides healing and justice to every region of this country where families are touched by these tragedies – the Downtown Eastside included.

NWAC’s thoughts and prayers are with the families (both within and beyond bloodlines) yearning for peace and reconciliation amid these tragedies. We hope that your hearts might know peace today. Together – we will achieve justice.

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 Nations, Métis and Canadian societies. As a national organization representing Indigenous women since 1974, NWAC’s mandate is to achieve equality for all Indigenous women in Canada.

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For more information or for media inquiries:

Jenn Jefferys
Communications Officer
Native Women’s Association of Canada
+1 613-485-1988 (cell)
[email protected]