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Press Release

Special Rapporteur’s Report Echoes NWAC’s Urgent Concerns


March 13, 2023

(Ottawa, ON)- It was heartening for NWAC to read the conclusions of a special report by UN Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Rights Francisco Cali Tzay, based on the meetings he recently held during his trip to Canada. Those conclusions are completely aligned with what NWAC has been saying for years: that Indigenous people continue to face obstacles to fully enjoy their individual and collective human rights in this country.

The UN Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Rights concluded his 10-day Canada visit recognizing some Indigenous women and gender-diverse people are not able to fully claim their human rights.

MR. Tzay raised numerous concerns faced by Indigenous Women, Girls, Two-Spirit, Trans and Gender-Diverse (WG2STGD+) people, including the MMIWG crisis, ongoing barriers to self-determination and membership under the Indian Act, and Indigenous women’s over-representation in federal prisons as a consequence of structural racism.

The Special Rapporteur kicked off his tour on March 1, discussing Indigenous WG2STGD+ people’s concerns in a meeting with NWAC Vice-President Judy Whiteduck (Kitigan Zibi First Nation), International Relations Advisor Tania Molina and Assistant Manager of Legal Services Sarah Niman.

After meeting with Indigenous groups and visiting sites of unmarked graves, the Special Rapporteur condemned Canada’s Indian Residential School program as an “appalling legacy.” He said the impacts of this program include structural racism, intergenerational trauma and the child welfare to prison pipeline.

Though he applauded Canada’s efforts to create an Action Plan to implement to UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP), Mr. Calí Tzay said Canada must reflect Indigenous WG2STGD+ people’s lived realities amidst an ongoing MMIWG “epidemic.”

“The Special Rapporteur called on Canada to step up its responses to the ongoing MMIWG crisis, saying Indigenous people should not be left alone to address a problem stemming from structural racism,” said Ms. Whiteduck. “He cited NWAC’s Safe Passage case mapping database as an Indigenous-led effort to help keep our women, girls and gender-diverse people safe.”

“It is encouraging to hear Mr. Calí Tzay recognize Canada must harmonize Indian Act membership laws with Indigenous self-determination rights if it is serious about aligning all Canadian laws with UNDRIP,” said Ms. Niman.

Mr. Calí Tzay will publish his findings in his forthcoming report on Canada to the UN Human Rights Council in September 2023.

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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.