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Press Release

Covid-19 May Have Stopped The Government But It Hasn’t Stopped Indigenous Women



(June 3, 2020 OTTAWA): The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC), a national voice of First Nations, Métis, and Inuit women, girls and gender diverse people, marks the first anniversary of the release of the report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous women and Girls with sadness, but also some hope.

The federal government acknowledges that it has no timeline for the release of a National Action Plan to stop the violence, and blames the current pandemic for its failure to respond to the Inquiry report.

The announcement was met with disappointment by NWAC. Over the past several years, NWAC has kept a watchful eye over the progress of the Inquiry. Today, it issued its first report card on the progress government has made since the release of the Inquiry report. Unfortunately, in its assessment of the government’s efforts to address the Inquiry’s 231 Calls for Justice, it found so little has been done, that NWAC gave the government a failing grade.

Moreover, while the government blames the pandemic for the failure to produce a National Action Plan, Indigenous women are being put at even greater risk due to the isolation caused by the Covid-19 virus. A recent survey conducted by NWAC found that nearly one in five Indigenous women has experienced violence in the past three months.

“Instead of a National Action Plan, we have been left with a Lack-of-Action Plan,” said NWAC President Lorraine Whitman. “But the Indigenous women of Canada are pressing ahead. The fact is, we cannot afford to do nothing in the face of the violence that continues to take the lives of First Nations, Métis and Inuit women.”

Where the federal government has done very little to address the Inquiry’s 231 Calls for Justice, NWAC has been busy over the past year, holding a national roundtable to learn the priorities of Indigenous women, creating webinars to keep Indigenous women safe and healthy, working to reduce the impact of the pandemic on Indigenous communities, creating commemorative campaigns and art, and reaching out internationally and to politicians here at home to let them know that, not only is violence against Indigenous women, girls and gender diverse people still here, it is getting worse.

NWAC also sent to the federal government, in May, a list of eight measures that could form the basis of a move-forward strategy to create a national plan. To date, NWAC has not received a response from Ottawa.

“The excuse that the pandemic has prevented or delayed the release of a National Action Plan that would begin to address our Inquiry’s 231 Calls For Justice simply does not hold water,” said Marion Buller, the Inquiry’s Chief Commissioner. “Some provinces and territories have made headway. Yukon has forged ahead with its own plan, so the work can be done in a timely and thorough way. And NWAC is helping to chart a path forward with eight proposals it has offered to the government, all of which could have been included in a plan.

NWAC has also prepared a discussion paper outlining Canada’s international human-rights requirements to make reparations for the harms caused to Indigenous women, girls and gender-diverse people. This could easily be integrated into a National Action Plan.

“We have not abandoned hope that the government will release a plan in the near future and to take our suggestions seriously,” said Ms. Whitman. “We are willing to do whatever is necessary to help make that happen. Although the government may have abandoned Indigenous women and their families, we will not.”

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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, 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.