Press Release

NWAC Disappointed in First Ministers Meeting Snub

“Why diminish – or ignore – the voices of Indigenous women?”

Ottawa, ON, March 12, 2020 –The President of the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC), Lorraine Whitman, has written to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to express her extreme disappointment that the Native Women’s Association of Canada was not invited to participate in the upcoming First Ministers’ Meeting with other national Indigenous organizations.

“NWAC is a national voice of Indigenous Women across Canada, and in failing to invite our organization to the upcoming First Ministers’ Meeting, the Prime Minister is diminishing the voices of Indigenous women,” Ms. Whitman said. “While the leaders of the Assembly of First Nations, the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, and the Métis National Council were invited to this meeting to ‘discuss how they can work together to advance the priorities of First Nations, Inuit, and the Métis Nation,’ NWAC was not.”

In her letter to Prime Minister Trudeau, Ms. Whitman urged the Prime Minister to reconsider inviting NWAC to these important talks.

“It is essential that the Prime Minister reconsiders, and allows the voices of Indigenous women, girls and gender-diverse peoples to be heard,” said Ms. Whitman. “Our organization led the movement to bring to light the number of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, and we continue to advocate for the Inquiry’s Calls for Justice to be implemented. Our 10 Point Action Plan maps out a way to ensure that the Calls for Justice are implemented effectively – and it must be part of the discussion. ”

On February 1, 2019 NWAC signed the Canada—NWAC Accord with Minister Carolyn Bennett that recognized NWAC’s role as a national voice of Indigenous Women and Girls. In announcing this historic agreement, Minister Bennett said, “The new Canada-Native Women’s Association of Canada Accord demonstrates our commitment to ensure the voices of Indigenous women are heard and reflected in co-developed policy and programs.”

“We believe the exclusion of the grassroots voices of Indigenous women, girls, Two-Spirit and gender diverse people is a violation of our human rights and is contrary to the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples,” Ms. Whitman said. “We must be at the table.”

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The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) is founded on the collective goal to enhance, promote, and foster the social, economic, cultural and political well-being of First Nations, Métis and Inuit women. NWAC is an aggregate of thirteen Native women’s organizations from across Canada and was incorporated as a non-profit organization in 1974.

NWAC Media Relations

Important Links:

Canada-Native Women’s Association of Canada Accord

Letter to Prime Minister Trudeau, re: March First Ministers Meeting

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