Policy Sectors

Message from the CEO

Posted: New Initiatives:
Oct 10, 2023
  • Issue 17
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The Native Women’s Association (NWAC) represents Indigenous women, girls, Two-Spirit, transgender, and gender-diverse+ (WG2STGD+) people across this country. It’s their voices that we carry in our head when we engage with federal government departments on issues like housing, health, the environment, economic marginalization, and so forth. It’s their voices that we want when we go across the country to meet them face to face in their communities or when we hold online sessions.

These are the voices of the grassroots people we represent … and their voices are very important to us.

That’s why, in this issue of Shining the Spotlight, we talk about how and why we consult with all of you.

Our Legal Unit brings a story on this very topic. Inclusive and meaningful consultation with Indigenous stakeholders, including our grassroots people, isn’t just a procedural step; it’s an ethical cornerstone that informs all our initiatives. Holding discussions at roundtables, conducting personal interviews, gathering your opinion helps us develop recommendations that will meet your needs.

NWAC is looking at advocating for the housing needs of Indigenous Two-Spirit, transgender, non-binary, and gender-diverse+ people, who face much discrimination when it comes to housing and accessing emergency shelters. They’re also more likely to experience homelessness. You’ll read a story about our efforts in this area, where it was important to gather lived experiences. We held an online sharing circle to hear what you and service providers who support the housing needs of Indigenous Two-Spirit, transgender, non-binary, and gender-diverse+ people had to say on this topic.

And, we’re in stage 2 of a housing model that hinges on sustainability, affordability, and being culturally appropriate. This model is ground-breaking—it’s being designed, planned, and user tested by Indigenous women and community organizations.

We’re consulting our grassroots about how the climate crisis is impacting their everyday lives. Their voices, their opinions, are helping us bring their unique and critical perspective to climate discussions and policy-making.

We bring you an update on a survey we conducted with our grassroots on the impacts that COVID-19 is having on them. As we all know, the pandemic magnified already-existing disparities and created specific and unique challenges for Indigenous WG2STGD+ people. We will be developing a report form our findings, which will be used in our research, policy, and advocacy work.

Without knowing how you feel and what is happening in your lives, we would be unable to advocate effectively on your behalf. So consulting with you is critical.

A huge part of empowering the people we speak for and represent is the economic piece obviously. Ending the economic marginalization of Indigenous WG2STGD+ people is one of the key calls to action issued by the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. And so, as always, we bring you stories on the work we continue to do in this area.

The story on our National Apprenticeships Program (NAP) tells you about Amanda who received training as a welder at the age of 40. Leanne’s story is about how the Indigenous Skills and Employment Training (ISET) program is helping her fulfill her dream to become a medical doctor and return to her northern Dene community. In her words: “It is Dene law to share, give back, and take care of one another. Being able to give back is what motivates me.”

We update you on our work with the Community Workforce Development Program, #BeTheDrum, and the Women’s Entrepreneur Accelerator component—all designed in their own way to pave a brighter, more inclusive future for Indigenous WG2STGD+ people.

So many Indigenous women and girls across the globe are living in extreme poverty. My mission tours to countries within the Central American Integration System is designed to share our successes, develop business partnerships, and help empower the women in these countries. Two stories feature our international work and the cultural and economic benefits that arise from robust global partnerships. You’ll also read about NWAC’s participation in the Fifth convening of the Trilateral Working Group on Violence Against Indigenous Women and Girls, our meeting with UN Special Rapporteur Tomoya Obokata, and the annual Sisters in Spirit vigil.

As you can see, our advocacy efforts cross all topics—economic development, skills development and jobs, legal affairs and justice, violence prevention and MMIWG2S+, health, environment, housing, social development, and international. Our goal, as always, is to enhance, promote, and foster the social, economic, cultural and political well-being of Indigenous WG2STGD+ people.