The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) works to advance the well-being of Aboriginal women and girls, as well as their families and communities through activism, policy analysis and advocacy. Aboriginal women continue to experience discrimination on multiple grounds and in various complex forms and from various sources, including from individuals, businesses, and governments.
NWAC was incorporated in 1974 and is one of the five officially recognized National Aboriginal Organizations (NAOs) whose purpose is to represent and speak, at the national level, on behalf of Aboriginal women in Canada.
NWAC is led by an elected national president whose term is three years. The president is the official spokesperson for NWAC and has the authority to act on behalf of the Board of Directors. The NWAC is governed by a Board of Directors that includes the President of NWAC, the President or designate of each of the Provincial/Territorial Member Associations (PTMAs) as well as four Elders and four youth to represent the four directions.
Files being addressed by NWAC include: education, employment and labour, environment, health, human rights and international affairs and violence with a special focus on missing and murdered Aboriginal women and girls.
Dr. Dawn Lavell-Harvard, Ph.D., was elected President of the Native Women’s Association of Canada at the 41st Annual General Assembly, July 11, 2015 in Montreal, Quebec. Dawn is a proud member of the Wikwemikong First Nation, the first Aboriginal Trudeau Scholar, and has worked to advance the rights of Indigenous women as the President of the Ontario Native Women’s Association (ONWA) for 11 years. An alumnus of Queen’s University and the University of Western Ontario, Dr. Lavell-Harvard has dedicated the academic part of her career to the study of Education, including the experiences of Indigenous women in Canadian secondary and post-secondary school systems.
Dawn was Interim President of NWAC since February 2015 and was Vice-President for almost 3 years. Dawn is a full-time mother of three girls. Following in the footsteps of her mother Jeannette Corbière Lavell, a noted advocate for Indigenous women’s rights, since joining the Board of the Ontario Native Women’s Association as a youth director back in 1994, Dr. Lavell-Harvard has been working toward the empowerment of Indigenous women and their families. She was co-editor of the original volume on Indigenous Mothering entitled “Until Our Hearts Are on the Ground: Aboriginal Mothering, Oppression, Resistance and Rebirth” and has also recently released a new book, along with Kim Anderson, entitled “Mothers of the Nations.”