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December 11, 2017 (Ottawa, ON) - The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) is boycotting a federal, provincial and territorial (FPT) meeting in Gatineau, QC with Ministers from across the country as a consequence of sex-based discrimination. The Ministers’ Meeting has failed to provide NWAC a seat at the table of National leaders occupied by the Assembly of First Nations (AFN), Métis National Council (MNC) and the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK).
This historic FPT meeting of Ministers represents the first time in 30 years that they gather to discuss human rights in Canada. The Prime Minister’s Office has maintained it has taken a feminist approach working towards gender equality, yet an equal position for women via NWAC is once again not offered. NWAC President Francyne Joe stated, “The Women of Many Nations are equal rights holders and deserve equal time. These women are the heart of our communities and deserve a seat at the National table”. Joe added, “This sex-based discrimination continues to minimize the voice of Indigenous women and the voices of our grass roots organizations”.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has repeatedly committed to building a renewed nation-to-nation relationship between the Government of Canada and Indigenous peoples, “based on recognition, respect for rights, co-operation and partnership”. However, the Government of Canada has unilaterally decided to exclude NWAC from the nation-to-nation framework, choosing to include only AFN, MNC, and ITK. The narrative the Prime Minister’s Office has chosen: “our work is incomplete, especially for Indigenous Peoples” is indeed incomplete as it fails to equally recognize Indigenous Women and Girls. This approach fails to recognize or respect that NWAC’s constituency (Indigenous Women and Girls) are not adequately represented by other National Indigenous Organizations. Furthermore, it denies equality to the national body with which Indigenous women have chosen to represent them on issues that matter most.
This sex-based discrimination continues to minimize the voice of NWAC and the women and girls it represents. This most recent discrimination is now a growing list of past omissions that includes exclusion for First Ministers’ Meetings (FMM) in October of 2017, December of 2016 and March of 2016. In addition, NWAC did not receive an invitation to participate in a high-level reconciliation meeting with the Prime Minister’s Office in December of 2016.
NWAC continues to call on the Government of Canada to respect the Indigenous women and girls of Canada and provide an opportunity for equal participation and an equal voice in all future meetings and decisions.
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About The Native Women’s Association of Canada
The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) is a National Indigenous Organization representing the political voice of Indigenous women, girls and gender diverse people in Canada, inclusive of First Nations on and off reserve, status and non-status, disenfranchised, Métis and Inuit. An aggregate of Indigenous women’s organizations from across the country, NWAC was founded on the collective goal to enhance, promote and foster the social, economic, cultural and political well-being of Indigenous women within their respective communities and Canada societies.