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Carol McBride is an activist and bridge builder, who says Indigenous women and 2SLGBTQQAI+ people are unwilling to wait for change from the institutions that have historically kept them paralyzed in a cycle of dependency.
President McBride was elected to lead the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) in July 2022, representing Indigenous women, girls, and gender-diverse people. The Seven Grandmother Teachings–love, truth, bravery, humility, wisdom, honesty, and respect–are central to her leadership at NWAC.
“I strongly believe that Indigenous women, girls, and gender-diverse peoples have always possessed the agency and the expertise to know what is right for themselves and for their families,” she says. “Indigenous women bring communities together, they are life givers and knowledge transferrers. Indigenous women can change the world and I carry this message with me wherever I go.”
President McBride is an Algonquin leader and Elder from Timiskaming First Nation, on the shores of Lake Timiskaming, in northwestern Quebec. Prior to her election as NWAC president, she was the Program Director for the Timiskaming Native Women's Support Group at Keepers of the Circle, an Indigenous hub in Northern Ontario.
Her activism, on behalf of her people, began at the age of 18 when she participated in a peaceful sit-in organized by Indigenous youth at the headquarters of what was then the Indian Affairs department, in Ottawa. She was also a prominent leader of the fight to thwart the City of Toronto’s plans to dump its garbage in Northern Ontario.
She served six years on the council of the Temiskaming First Nation before becoming the First Nation’s first female Chief, a position she held for 13 years. Under her leadership, the community’s infrastructure expanded to include a new long-term-care home, elementary school, water treatment plant, and band office.
President McBride also served as the Grand Chief of the Algonquin Nation for two terms. During this time, she secured an agreement giving the Algonquin 51 per cent ownership of the Obajiwan-Fort Temiscaming National Historical Site.
One of her primary goals as NWAC president is to ensure the Calls for Justice of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls, and 2SLGBTQQAI+ people (MMIWG2S+) are enacted by decision-makers at all levels.
“The findings in the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls report outlined and validated what we have known for decades–that Indigenous women continue to be the target of systemic barriers, aiming to oppress us and assimilate us,” says President McBride. “The four pathways that maintain colonial violence are: Historical, multigenerational, and intergenerational trauma; social and economic marginalization; maintaining the status quo and institutional lack of will; and ignoring the agency and expertise of Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people. I will target these pathways and give a voice to the collective of Indigenous Peoples out there, who are calling for change.”
Reconciliation, she says, begins with equitable inclusion in policy decisions impacting Indigenous women and gender-diverse people, including in environmental policy planning and national priorities related to climate change.
“I will network with our people and listen to all, and work hard to bring these items into spaces that have been historically closed to our women,” says President McBride. “I will build relationships with nations, organizations, and people that have common goals, and strengthen our positions by working together."
President McBride is fighting for equality in training opportunities, education, health care, mental-health awareness, and housing for Indigenous women and gender-diverse people. She emphasizes the importance of healing from intergenerational trauma and is lobbying for resources needed to end the plague of substance abuse in both urban and rural Indigenous communities.
She also demands that plan for implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP) has concrete, accountable and measurable targets to give people every opportunity to achieve self-determination.
President McBride is a proud mother and grandmother. She and her husband, Alvin McBride, chose to raise their family on the Temiskaming First Nation.
“My passion and my heart lies with family and supporting one another to be healthy and to thrive,” she says. “I will address intergenerational trauma through advocating ferociously for the Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation commission to be implemented at all levels of government, and in our organizations that offer services, with particular respect to the areas of child welfare, education, and the revitalization of our languages and cultures.”
President McBride is committed to securing sustained, reliable, funding and partnership opportunities for NWAC to address social and economic marginalization of Indigenous women, girls, and gender-diverse people. She plans to build on existing NWAC accomplishments and strengthen our relationships with our affiliated associations in the provinces and territories.
“We will encourage our crafters, our beaders, our artists, and our young businesswomen to become leaders, entrepreneurs, and innovators,” she says. “I will encourage business and financial literacy programs and services at every opportunity to give our women the confidence and chances they need to be successful in achieving their goals.”