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|May 26, 2022|
Spring is a time of new beginnings and growth. Birds and butterflies have arrived; trees have donned their greenery; flowers are blooming.
NWAC, too, is growing as an organization. We have moved into our new building in Gatineau. The building will not only house our offices but act as an incubator space for our revenue generating businesses (boutique and café) and welcome government departments, national non-profit organizations, and other groups to gather in our culturally designed meeting spaces. The space that is occupied by more than 200 Indigenous art pieces in our new building, made by Indigenous artists from across the country, is designed to honour and bring awareness about Indigenous women and girls in Canada.
With awareness comes understanding, and understanding leads to reconciliation.
As we grow in staff numbers and departments, we are also growing as an advocacy voice for Indigenous women, Two-Spirit, and gender-diverse people. The work we are doing always has a focus on inclusivity and respect for all the Indigenous people we represent—on and off-reserve; with or without disabilities; First Nations, Inuit, and Métis; urban and rural.
This issue of Shining the Spotlight offers a glimpse into some of the projects and programs we are working on related to missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls (MMIWG); the economic marginalization of women, Two-Spirit, and gender-diverse people; and the environment.
The road to healing
With the opening of our Resiliency Lodge, Indigenous women who have been marked by settler-colonialism policies and programs, racism, and discrimination now have a welcoming, culturally safe space to come to as guests.
You’ll read about this, as well as our work on the MMIWG file. Supported by our communications department, we are partnering with Facebook’s Metaverse and with TikTok to bring attention to this crisis. We have also revamped the Safe Passage website, which reflects the geographic regions and instances where individuals have felt unsafe, and are working on a report on community safety as well as a training program to help Indigenous people and communities deal with intergenerational trauma, mental health crises, and gender-based violence.
Indigenous women’s negative interactions with the police, including the RCMP, are another concern. NWAC welcomes that the RCMP is planning to equip frontline police officers with body cameras, and we are providing feedback. Balancing transparency and the right to privacy with the need to record police–Indigenous people’s interactions will be critical.
The economic file
As always, NWAC continues to focus on the economic marginalization of the people we represent. This issue carries stories about the national survey that Nanos Research conducted for us on the most vulnerable Indigenous people in Canada—those with mental, physical, cultural, and spiritual barriers. The comprehensive data will be used to help remove barriers to employment.
Just as federally regulated employers will be given the tools to advance equity among Indigenous people with disabilities, so too will they be informed by our work on culturally relevant, gender-based research and policy analysis, which will foster inclusivity and equity across government policies and programs.
The climate file
Last but not least, Indigenous women are the water keepers. In this period of global warming, it is critical to have our voices heard. To this end, you’ll read about our participation on the international stage through forums like COP56 and I invite all of you to visit our new Water Carriers website, where we share stories about Indigenous women’s relationship with water.
Leaving no one out or behind … that’s the central focus of all of our work, and that work is increasing as we continue to expand our programming and reach.
We hope you enjoy reading this month’s issue of Shining the Spotlight.
Miigwetch, thank you, merci.