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A new deal, a new day: What the USMCA means for the rights of Indigenous women


The United States, Mexico and Canada have reached a provisional agreement (the USMCA) on a new trade deal to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). NWAC is encouraged by the inclusion of Article 32.5 of the new USMCA, an exception provision that will ensure that the agreement will not undermine the ability of the parties to fulfill their legal obligations to Indigenous peoples.

NWAC congratulates the Government of Canada in successfully negotiating for the inclusion of this provisions, as trade can have serious implications for the rights and interests of Indigenous peoples, particularly Indigenous women and children.

But, while the Indigenous Rights Exception is an important component of a progressive trade agenda that respects and supports Indigenous peoples, it is not enough. The recognition by the parties to the USMCA that the agreement must not impede a state’s obligations to Indigenous peoples must be understood in the context of Bill C-262 and Article 21.2 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).

Bill C-262 is a private members bill introduced by Romeo Saganash and supported by the government, which will recognize UNDRIP as a human rights document with domestic application in Canada and require the conformity of Canada’s laws with the document. Article 21.2 of UNDRIP requires states to take effective and special measures to improve the economic and social conditions of Indigenous peoples, particularly Indigenous women and children.

NWAC encourages the Government of Canada to take full advantage of Article 32.5 of the USMCA and respect its obligations under Article 21.2 of UNDRIP. This requires more than ensuring Indigenous women are no longer disproportionately negatively affected by international trade agreements, but that Indigenous women are provided with meaningful opportunities to equally and fully participate in economic opportunities that flow from trade and to ensure that these economic activities meaningfully and substantially ameliorate the socio-economic condition of Indigenous women and children.

Media Contact:

For information, or to arrange an interview, contact:

Annette Goerner
+1 (613) 818-6941

Pour obtenir plus d’information ou prendre des dispositions pour une interview, contacter:

Annette Goerner
+1 (613) 818-6941

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, transgender, Two-Spirit, 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.

À propos de l'Association des femmes autochtones du Canada

L'Association des femmes autochtones du Canada (AFAC) est une organisation autochtone nationale qui représente la voix politique des femmes, des filles, des transgenres, des bispirituels et des personnes de sexe différent au Canada, y compris les membres des Premières nations vivant dans les réserves et hors réserve, les Indiens inscrits et non inscrits, les personnes privées de leurs droits, les Métis et les Inuits. Regroupant des organisations de femmes autochtones de tout le pays, l'AFAC a été fondée dans le but collectif d'améliorer, de promouvoir et de favoriser le bien-être social, économique, culturel et politique des femmes autochtones au sein de leurs communautés respectives et des sociétés canadiennes.