CEO Message

May 29, 2023

June is National Indigenous History Month. While this month represents an opportunity to learn about the unique cultures, traditions, and experiences of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis, and to honour the stories, achievements, and resilience of Indigenous Peoples, it’s also opportune to not forget that Canada committed genocide against our people.

And the genocide is still going on. Indigenous Women, Girls, Two-Spirit, Transgender, and Gender-Diverse (WG2STGD+) Peoples—the very people that the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) represents—continue to go missing and are murdered at an alarming and disproportionate rate.

In a unanimous motion in the House of Commons, this genocide was recognized as a Canada-wide emergency. In fact, researchers have reported that Indigenous women and girls are 12 times more likely to be murdered or missing than other women in Canada, and 16 times more likely than Caucasian women.

NWAC continues to press home the message that the federal government needs to do more—far more—to address the ongoing genocide. That’s why special occasions such as Red Dress Day, held every May 5, and National Indigenous Peoples Day, held every June 21, are so important. They serve as a tangible reminder that the government continues to fail Indigenous WG2STGD+ Peoples.

In this issue of our newsletter Shining the Spotlight, you will learn that NWAC marked RED Dress Day in a special way. We hosted guided tours to our special exhibit in our Vault Exhibition Space; held a faceless doll workshop; and held a roundtable with our PTMAs and Senator Michèle Audette to talk about the issues relate to the genocide. It was a powerful and moving day.

There is of course trauma and violence associated with colonialism and the ongoing genocide. To help Indigenous WG2STGD+ Peoples heal, and in direct response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action and the National Inquiry’s Calls for Justice, NWAC created two healing lodges, the latest in New Brunswick. We bring you a story on this lodge’s land-based programming. To quote Elder Alma Brooks: “Our healing is wrapped up with the healing of the earth.”

In its Call for Justice 1.3, the National Inquiry called on governments to “pursue the measures required to eliminate the social, economic, cultural, and political marginalization of Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people when developing budgets and determining priorities.” That’s why NWAC places great importance on opening up opportunities for Indigenous WG2STGD+ Peoples, such as helping them achieve skills such as learning to drive (read our story on the Iqaluit Driver’s Licence Training Program offered through Employment and Social Development Canada). That’s why NWAC focuses on opportunities whereby Indigenous WG2STGD+ Peoples can become self-sufficient or enter the skilled trades (read about our National Apprenticeships Program, which connects small and medium-sized enterprises with Indigenous candidates).

Health and wellness, security, clean water, and affordable, safe housing are also vitally important. In this issue, we bring you an update on our work in developing more health resources for those we serve, along with a story about all the work we are doing on the housing front and for Indigenous WG2STGD+ Peoples living with disabilities.

Indigenous WG2STGD+ Peoples face unique challenges, and our fulsome work related to Canada’s impending UNDRIP Acton Plan is designed to effect meaningful change.

After all, that’s what NWAC and all of the people we represent want—a brighter, more equitable future for all.