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“The fear and lack of choice that Dawn Walker says drove her decision to flee to the United States is reflected in the thousands of testimonies heard by the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls who faced systemic discrimination on all fronts – we need to act on the Calls to Justice now.” - NWAC President, Carol McBride.
August 15, 2022
OTTAWA – The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) is calling upon the federal government to negotiate a rapid return to this country for Dawn Walker, an Okanese Cree woman who is being held in an Oregon jail after fleeing to the United States with her seven-year-old son.
NWAC argues it is in the best interests of all concerned that Ms. Walker be allowed to quickly address charges of parental abduction and public mischief in Canada.
“We are very relieved to hear her son, Vincent, has been returned to Canada and is safely in the custody of a legal guardian,” said NWAC President Carol McBride. “But we are gravely concerned officials in the United States, and even here in Canada, will fail to take full account of the systemic circumstances involved when Indigenous women believe they are not safe, even in reaching out to those mandated to protect them.
The Supreme Court of Canada determined that Indigenous women who are victims of violence face barriers and discrimination within the justice system, especially when it comes to having their stories of abuse given the same credence that is extended to non-Indigenous women.
The National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls found that the violence directed at Indigenous women in Canada is a genocide, and we know much of that violence is perpetrated by domestic partners. The National Inquiry report also ascribes the high risk of violence to the failure of police and others in the criminal justice system to adequately respond to intimate partner crime, or provide for, the needs of Indigenous women and girls.
Ms. Walker says she left Canada because she feared for her and her son’s safety. She also says she suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) because of domestic abuse. The next legal steps taken against her must acknowledge the realities of Indigenous women amidst the ongoing genocide.
“We cannot know the full facts of this case until they come before the courts,” said President McBride. We urge the return of Ms. Walker to Canada where a National Inquiry has addressed the unique circumstances faced by Indigenous women in the justice system, both as victims and as the accused. Ms. Walker should be in a place where she has an extended network of support. She should be allowed to come home.”
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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.