June 29, 2021
Reconciliation with Indigenous Women: Changing the Story of MMIWG (2020)
Ontario Native Women’s Association developed frameworks based on Indigenous worldviews, Indigenous knowledge, and Indigenous women’s lived experiences. The frameworks are based on how Indigenous women describe their own ways of knowing and being. We provide three frameworks that inform the recommendations we offer for the National Action Plan.
First framework is ONWA’s Theory of Change which recognizes that Indigenous women are experts in their lives and know the solutions to issues we experience.
Second framework is ONWA’s Indigenous Gender-Based Analysis (IGBA) which recognizes that constructs of Indigenous women in Canada, a country built on colonization, reduces Indigenous women to victims and never builds them as leaders in their lives, their families, communities or Nations. Applying an intersectional framework, we realize that Indigenous women occupy multiple social identities; some that negatively impact Indigenous women’s lives directly influencing the level of violence we experience.
Third framework is She is Wise which positions Indigenous women’s knowledge and practices in an understanding of Indigenous women’s leadership. It provides guidance to define policy and deliver programs that support Indigenous women’s experiences and moves Indigenous women into their leadership roles.
The National Action Plan applies an Indigenous Gender-Based Analysis that ensures safety for Indigenous women and girls is at the focus of all investments through the Plan including measuring the current system’s safety levels and dismantling barriers or systems that cause harm.
The federal government ensures full participation of Indigenous women and their organizations in all aspects of the development and implementation of the National Action Plan.
The federal government invests in a national gathering where provincial, national, and local Indigenous women’s organizations come together to provide advice and guidance on how Indigenous women want to see themselves represented and determine ways to support and sustain Indigenous women’s voices into national policy and decision-making processes.
Indigenous women’s organizations receive direct and core sustainable funding to continue policy and systemic work to end violence against Indigenous women and to provide safe spaces for women and their families through services and programs.
An Indigenous Gender-Based Analysis be undertaken on funding provided to Indigenous women’s organization as compared to other Indigenous and non-Indigenous organizations.
Address the overrepresentation of Indigenous children in the care of child welfare agencies. A complete realignment of the child welfare system that provides Indigenous women and families with consistent early prevention, intervention, and wrap-around supports. Shift from risk and crisis responses to prevention and support services. The work currently done by the child welfare system be done with, or within, the Indigenous community.
A committed long-standing investment in community-based programs through Indigenous women’s organizations that supports and nurtures Indigenous women’s ability to mother and includes Indigenous parenting programs that span a child’s lifecycle, domestic violence programs that offer culturally-appropriate early intervention and prevention including healing programs and appropriate safety planning.
Legislative changes to replace “duty to report” with a mandated “duty to refer” and an increase in relationships between health care providers and children’s aid societies with Indigenous service providers, such as ONWA, so Indigenous families improve outcomes and mitigate risks.
Reinstatement of the Aboriginal Healing Foundation funding and programs to support healing services for Indigenous women, families and communities.
Establish addiction programs and services for Indigenous women that support families staying together as part of the healing process.
The government of Canada meaningfully engages Indigenous women and invests in Indigenous women’s organizations to develop federal
policy and funding formulas. A nation-to-nation policy framework must ensure that Indigenous women are guaranteed equitable representation at all levels of governance including in their home communities, municipalities, provinces/ territories, and federally.
The National Action Plan should not use a distinction-based approach when moving to implementation so as not to create divisions in urban communities or between urban and other Indigenous communities. The plan should not ignore the needs of Indigenous women who are not connected to national Indigenous organizations. The National Action Plan must include all Indigenous women, regardless of whether we are First Nations, Inuit or Métis and regardless of where they live
Remedy of sex discrimination in the Indian
Act be fully implemented including residual discrimination in communities that remain a legacy of the governance structures imbedded in the Indian Act.
The federal government put appropriate investments into S-3 implementation including appropriate staffing for the registration of women and their children under S-3 and that a strength- based educational campaign be developed for First Nations communities and for women who want to apply.
Indigenous communities receive support to establish comprehensive safety plans in their communities in which Indigenous women lead the engagement and design of the plan and communities invest in those plans.
All recommendations from ONWA’s 2019 Journey to Safe SPACES report be a program development guide in all areas of work for Human Trafficking. ONWA works as a partner to implement the National Action Plan recommendations. First priorities are:
- Sustainable programs and services that address survivor-specific needs—including wrap-around 24-hour services for Human Trafficking in cities across the country— be implemented. Specialized staff provides trauma-informed care with an understanding of sexual exploitation and the realities of women who are trafficked. Services must be provided in a non- judgmental way. Survivor perspectives and expertise inform the development, implementation, and evaluation of services.
- Collaborative mechanisms be put into place to allow for provincial and national data collection on the human trafficking of Indigenous peoples that balances the privacy of survivors who access services with data collected by the legal system.
- Specialized trauma-informed victim services for survivors who appear in court be created. When charges are laid against a trafficker, survivors need to be supported by specialized, trauma- informed services. Survivor safety must be prioritized throughout legal processes including protecting survivors from re-victimization in providing witness testimony.
The development of a National Strategy on Sexual Violence against Indigenous Women and Girls. The plan must focus on the root causes of sexual violence against Indigenous women and girls through the provision of trauma-informed culturally-grounded supports for women and girls experiencing this form of violence. The plan includes:
- The need for increased and equitable funding for emergency health services, medical services, sexual assault prevention, and response services for Indigenous women and girls to ensure we receive the necessary care and treatment including aftercare supports.
- All First Nation nursing stations be provided the equipment and training resources to safely perform sexual assault evidence kits in a respectful trauma- informed culturally-appropriate manner.
Establish a strengths-based Indigenous Women’s Victim Services Strategy that focuses on providing culturally-safe and effective victim services. Indigenous women should design and develop the strategy to support culturally-appropriate outcomes rooted in an understanding of the whole health and well-being of Indigenous women and their families.
Establish clear policing standards and training related to Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls regardless of the police force.
Develop national standards for Gladue reports that are culturally-grounded and trauma- informed. The standards must be Indigenous developed and implemented.
Establish adequate and permanent funding to Indigenous-led non-profit organizations to provide culturally-grounded trauma-informed Gladue support services and to fulfill the intended remedial purpose of the Gladue principles. Autonomous Indigenous women’s organizations should be given priority funding for Gladue report writing and Gladue support services programs for Indigenous women. For individuals who completed a Gladue report
and have identified sexual assault or human trafficking and if they want to, an investigation be automatically initiated, as there is no statute of limitations on these crimes.
All police forces across Canada review and implement the recommendations from the 2018 report, Broken Trust: Indigenous People and the Thunder Bay Police Service and/or do their own inquiry into their organization’s behaviour around systemic racism; and all police forces develop and maintain procedures and processes for criminal and general investigations:
- Criminal Organization;
- Human Trafficking;
- Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls; and
- Hate Crimes and Violence against Indigenous Peoples.
The federal government makes a significant investment in research with Indigenous women’s organizations to facilitate research on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls that is led and owned by Indigenous women’s organizations.
A national database on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls be established that addresses jurisdictional issues and that captures information beyond what is currently collected.
All levels of government ensure Indigenous women’s full participation in policy development and decision-making processes that affect
them. This includes a significant investment into Indigenous women’s policy capacity and the engagement of Indigenous women’s leadership, knowledge, and expertise in policy reform related to social programs and service development. This is essential for Indigenous women to reclaim their voices.
Indigenous women become the leaders in the development of a comprehensive performance measurement framework for the National Action Plan utilizing an agreed-upon research strategy that encourages collaboration among stakeholders and combines Indigenous and non- Indigenous knowledge.
An educational fund be set up for Indigenous women and girls to pursue education programs without having to rely on getting permission through chief and council structures.
Invest in Indigenous women’s organizations to establish safety standards for educational institutions including learning guidelines for curriculums.
The National Action Plan address the need for increased funding, including capacity funding, to Indigenous women’s services and organizations (provincial and local Indigenous women’s organizations), Indigenous women’s shelters, and Indigenous midwifery organizations. The federal government is held accountable for funding types and amounts flowed to the organizations. The funding must be sustainable and the amounts equivalent to both needs and desired programmatic outcomes.
Working with Indigenous women, Indigenous communities identify institutional investments in a wide range of accessible culturally-grounded and respectful community supports and services for Indigenous women and girls.
The National Action Plan supports and requires increased collaboration between the federal government, provincial governments, and Indigenous women’s organizations to better respond to the social determinant needs of Indigenous women and their families. This can take the form of working groups comprised of Indigenous women whose mandate is to review relevant legislation and clarify jurisdictional responsibilities that impact Indigenous women’s lives.
Establish an oversight body to monitor the National Action Plan’s progress. Indigenous women need to play a significant role
in governance and operations to ensure accountability and to have input on solutions and outcomes that have lasting positive impacts on Indigenous women and their families. In addition to a national oversight body, there should be provincial and community-based oversight bodies.
Establish standardized death investigation processes, provincially and nationally, to ensure that Indigenous women and girls that need an autopsy receive one. Establish a standardized systems approach to death investigations that records the deceased’s race in all autopsies. Ensure that the process provides family members with as much information as possible about their loved one’s death.
Provide Indigenous women’s organizations with financial support for staff positions to report on the progress of all levels of government to the United Nations bodies on the National Action Plan implementation.