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On the morning of July 12, 2019, the staff of the Native Women’s Association of Canada gathered around a building in Hull, QB and each took their turn sprinkling tobacco at its base. It was a momentous occasion for NWAC staff, but an even greater one for Indigenous women, girls and gender diverse people across Canada. It was the ground breaking ceremony for NWAC’s new Social and Cultural Innovation Centre.
After a smudging by Elder Roseann Martin, NWAC CEO Lynne Groulx expressed the significance of the new building:
“We will offer supports and services and workshops tailored to meet the needs of Indigenous women, girls and gender diverse people who are impacted by ongoing structural, institutional and individual and aggravated forms of discrimination and sexism and stereotypes. The recent final Inquiry report described all of this in its recent report and called it a GENOCIDE stemming from colonization,” she said.
This will be the very first centre of its kind in Canada and the world.
In an effort to directly respond to the recommendations of the final Inquiry report on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, part of the new building will be devoted to a Resiliency Centre.
“It will offer trauma-informed, culturally-appropriate and gender-based services, infusing traditional healing, medicines and teachings,” said Groulx.
The new centre will also provide a platform of economic empowerment for Indigenous women entrepreneurs who can sell their products in the NWAC Boutique called “Originelle”.
“By doing so, we will be removing barriers to ensure the wellbeing, socio-economic advancement and self-sufficiency of Indigenous women and their families,” said Groulx.
Gail Paul, NWAC Interim President, was also there with powerful words:
“The Social and Cultural Innovation Centre is one step forward in a journey of many steps. It will provide supports and services that are created by Indigenous women for Indigenous women. A place where we feel safe, understood and empowered. It will be a place for Indigenous women to heal, reconnect and grow in the aftermath of the MMIWG findings of Genocide. It is a place of hope and health. A place to celebrate our culture, our resilience and our future!”
The hope, both women expressed, is not only for this centre to succeed in healing and empowering Indigenous women, but for it to inspire the creation of many others across Canada and the world.
Paul said the ground breaking ceremony is testament to what can be accomplished when Indigenous women are at the decision-making table.
“It represents what is possible when Indigenous women have their voices heard and respected. It is also a reminder to all of us of our potential and our spirit when we work together.”
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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.