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Lynne Groulx is a passionate advocate for Indigenous issues and a progressive activist in advancing equal rights. She is Métis from the Treaty Three historic community of Rainy River/Lake of the Woods. As CEO of the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC), Ms. Groulx engages in high-level negotiations with key government departments and agencies by applying her extensive expertise to elevate NWAC’s position on national and international stages.
Since Ms. Groulx became CEO in 2017, NWAC has grown from 12 employees to more than 185. Over that time, NWAC also expanded its network of provincial and territorial member associations (PTMAs). This has given Indigenous women, girls, Two-Spirit, transgender, and gender-diverse+ (WG2SGD+) people of this country a much greater voice here in Canada and abroad.
Ms. Groulx has led the development and promotion of numerous policy positions that call upon governments to improve equality and economic opportunity for First Nations, Inuit, and Métis women. She led NWAC in publishing a policy position on Bill S-3, legislation that became law in 2019 to remove remaining sex-based inequalities from the Indian Act. In addition, Ms. Groulx achieved the signing of a political Accord with the federal government that promised historic core funding for NWAC and its provincial and territorial partner associations. This agreement is a political framework that sets out relationships between Indigenous women in Canada and the Crown.
Ms. Groulx is unwavering in her demands for fulfillment of the Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and the Calls for Justice of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. She also guided the development of NWAC’s own national action plan, “Our Calls, Our Actions,” to set the organization’s path for meeting the National Inquiry’s demands.
NWAC held an international summit in 2021 to highlight the fact that genocide is occurring across the Americas. Under Ms. Groulx’s supervision, the organization created an interactive, online map, showing where these crimes have taken place. This map aids investigators and indicates regions that are unsafe. The document is a key source of information in highlighting the over-representation of Indigenous women in prison. It is also used as a tool to advocate for diverting these women from correctional facilities.
Other significant communications efforts flourished by Ms. Groulx include Red Dress Day, annual vigils for those who have gone missing or been murdered, and the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation; honouring lost children, and the survivors, of residential schools. Under her guidance, NWAC has also successfully created online workshops to provide wellness tools for health care professionals, healers, caregivers, and Indigenous WG2SGD+ people, including virtual sharing circles and a toll-free support line staffed by Elders.
Ms. Groulx has devoted an entire department to environmental concerns at NWAC. This team is constantly gathering data on the ways that changes to the earth, and its atmosphere, are detrimental in affecting Indigenous women—and their ability to live close to the land. These efforts have led to the launch of a new Water Carriers website, which honours Indigenous women as sacred water protectors, while emphasizing the importance of water conservation and protection worldwide.
In terms of research, Ms. Groulx has amplified research, advocacy, and progress in approximately 25 policy areas, including human trafficking, forced sterilization, mental health, wellness, economic development, and missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people.
Outside of administrative progresses, Ms. Groulx has put shovel to dirt on a number of innovative developments. She spearheaded the construction of two Resiliency Lodges, one north of our nation’s capital and the other in New Brunswick on the banks of the Saint John River. These healing lodges offer land-based healing led by Elders, utilizing traditional medicines and connections.
NWAC’s headquarters has also evolved under Ms. Groulx’s leadership with the opening of the new state-of-the-art Social and Economic Innovation Centre, in downtown Gatineau and strategically placed next to the federal departments of Indigenous Services and Crown-Indigenous Relations. The building includes an artisan boutique, an Indigenous café, a rooftop garden, culturally inspired meeting rooms and gathering spaces available for rent, and one of the most extensive collections of Indigenous art in Canada.
Ms. Groulx has accomplished all this while sustainably, and positively, moving NWAC’s books from the red to the black. In 2017, NWAC operated with an annual budget of $4.5 million, which has now increased to more than $15 million. This sound financial footing was realized through multiple successful applications for government funding as well as through the development of sustainable income opportunities for the organization.
Ms. Groulx previously worked for the Human Rights Commission of Canada (HRCC) as a Senior Advisor, which set a foundation for much of the advocacy she spearheads at NWAC. With the HRCC, she worked on systemic human rights issues regarding Indigenous Peoples, women, and federally sentenced prisoners. She also developed a gender integration framework, which is used and accepted as a common practice by the United Nations. Some of her experience includes representing the Human Rights Commission of Canada at the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women; speaking at the Organization of American States; and negotiating on the American Declaration on Indigenous Rights.
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