Press Release

NWAC Encourages Indigenous Women’s Leadership in Disaster Risk Reduction as BC Wildfires Continue

July 19, 2017 (Ottawa, ON) - The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) is mindful of the great risk to the safety of Indigenous women, girls, transgender, and Two-Spirit people as wildfires continue to encroach on populated areas of British Columbia. In addition to great concern for the safety of communities at risk of fire and those currently under evacuation, NWAC recognizes the hardships facing those returning to their homes and those who have lost theirs.

“Hundreds, if not thousands, of Indigenous women and girls’ lives will be affected by this,” commented NWAC President Francyne D. Joe. “Natural disasters are more likely to kill women than men and this disparity is amplified by socio-economic status. Statistically, this means that First Nation women on-reserve are in the most danger.”

President Joe represented the voice of First Nations and Métis women at the Marrakech Climate Change Conference in November of 2016 and NWAC continues to participate in the processes of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). As recognized by the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, Indigenous women hold traditional ecological knowledge that is vital to the success of disaster preparedness efforts.

“As global temperatures rise, we can expect that more fires will threaten the security of our people,” continued Joe. “Women are most often the ones caring for elderly persons and children and, largely for this reason, are the last to evacuate when natural disasters strike.”

“This nation cannot afford to omit Indigenous women from participation in efforts to address climate change. Indigenous women’s strong capabilities, intimate knowledge of their communities’ needs, and close connection to the land make them ideal candidates to guide and implement emergency measures that protect their homes, their economies, and lives,” said Joe. “I encourage every level of government and every community to champion Indigenous women’s unique perspectives and support our leadership in this area.”

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