February 15, 2024
Remembering Mona Hardy: A Legacy of Activism and Advocacy
INationTalk: t is with a heavy heart that the Ontario Native Women’s Association (ONWA) shares the passing of our dear friend Mona Hardy. Mona’s life was driven by sharp humour, activism, and advocacy. She was a woman who dedicated her life to giving and fighting for marginalized and forgotten people. As a proud trans-woman, she was always ahead of her time in addressing the rights of the Trans-community and Two-Spirit peoples.
In Mona’s recently released memoire Lost Between the Cracks she openly shares her heart, love of community, and life path.
“…here I am. Some say victim, some say survivor, I say I’m Mona.”
Mona’s life was a tapestry of courage, resilience, and unwavering determination, inspiring countless others to find their voice and take up their leadership. Mona’s journey was one of challenges, heartbreaks, and triumphs. She overcame adversity and discrimination, refusing to be defined by limitations others tried to impose on her.
Mona’s life shaped her into a warrior, a fearless leader who fought tirelessly for Indigenous women and Two-Spirit people’s rights. Her unwavering commitment to social justice and her infectious spirit ignited a fire in the hearts of those who were lucky enough to spend time with her. Her ability to empower others to challenge oppression and demand change will live on in those folks who received her gift, and they too will pass that to the next generation.
Mona led a support group for Trans and Two-Spirit people through the Northwest Community Health Centre. She volunteered for many agencies and institutions; she was also a member of ONWA’s provincial advisory committee for the Anti-Human Trafficking programs and a strong advocate for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Two-Spirit people.
Mona’s guidance was fundamental in the development of ONWA’s Journey to Safe SPACES Report. The report was based on extensive engagement with over 3,360 community members and the ongoing relationship with 250 self-identified human trafficking Survivors who have shared their stories.
The report resulted in 14 recommendations to address Human Trafficking. The Province of Ontario used this report to guide the development of the second Provincial Anti-Human Trafficking Strategy, which is now the largest in Canada. Mona was also incredibly supportive as ONWA created several of our other programs that collaborate with trafficked Survivors.
Mona’s values were grounded in giving and helping others, “Before people managed without money. They managed with community. They helped each other; they built together as a community.” Mona’s experience and love was open to the wider world she travelled and lived in.
“That little girl I used to be would be proud of me, too, and perhaps that is most important.”
Mona, you will be extremely missed, and your legacy will carry on for generations to come. Your selfless life’s work embodies Creator’s way, may he hold you close on your journey to the stars.
Mona leaves behind a legacy of transformative impact and a world that is more compassionate because of her efforts.
Sending condolences to her family, friends, and community.
The Ontario Native Women’s Association (ONWA)
May 8, 2023
Moose Hide Campaign Day addresses reconciliation and gender-based violence
NationTalk: VICTORIA, BC – The Moose Hide Campaign, an Indigenous-led grassroots movement aimed at reconciliation and ending gender-based violence, is holding its 12th annual day of ceremony, fasting and action on Thursday, May 11, 2023.
This year, Moose Hide Campaign Day includes keynote addresses from Raven Lacerte, co-founder of the Moose Hide Campaign, Dominic Paul, Campaign National Ambassador, and Brandi Morin, an award-winning journalist, storyteller, and passionate advocate for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls, and Two-spirit plus people as well as Chief Dr. Robert Joseph, OC, OBC of Reconciliation Canada.
In addition to the workshops, ceremony, and celebration on Campaign Day, people are encouraged to fast from sunrise to sunset to show their support and deepen their personal commitment to be part of the solution to ending gender-based violence. Walks and other events will be taking place in schools and communities across the country.
“Although we are an Indigenous-led organization, it is a shared responsibility of all Canadians to step up to foster positive change through meaningful dialogue and action. It starts by shining a light on the issue and then helping Canadians understand how they can get involved to end gender-based violence and advance truth and reconciliation in Canada,” says Raven Lacerte.
The Moose Hide Campaign is represented by a simple square of moose hide worn on the lapels of so many Canadians, including students, business and political leaders and others who have joined the cause to end violence against women and children.
In many Indigenous cultures, moose hide is considered good medicine. The moose hide pin is offered as a medicine for a social illness impacting all Canadians – domestic and gender-based violence against women and children, and particularly Indigenous women and children. Each pin sparks about five conversations around gender-based violence.
Last month, the Campaign presented its four millionth pin to Senator Michèle Audette, one of the commissioners for the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.
At the pin ceremony, Senator Audette spoke about the importance of men and boys being part of the solution to ending gender-based violence. She acknowledged progress is being made, but more action and change needs to happen.
The Moose Hide Campaign also gives Canadians, who are looking to participate in the nation’s journey of reconciliation, an accessible and important path forward and an opportunity to help stop violence in our communities once and for all.
“Part of our journey to create a safer Canada for all women and children is recognizing this isn’t an issue that women should tackle alone. We’re calling upon all Canadians, including men, to join this movement and it also starts with a commitment to raising children to know what love is,” says Sage Lacerte, Campaign National Ambassador.How to get involved
On May 11th, the Moose Hide Campaign wants Canadians from all backgrounds, cities, communities, cultures, and gender identities to join in solidarity. Moose Hide Campaign Day is a national ceremony, and once again will take place virtually so all Canadians across the country can participate and show their support, whether it is in person or online. Canadians can get involved in many ways by visiting moosehidecampaign.ca/campaignday or by:
- Registering to join the livestream on campaign day, originating from Victoria, BC, and participating in virtual workshops being offered.
- Participating in the Fast or Walk to End Violence.
- Partaking in the on-demand livestream and various workshops for K-12 classes.
- Ordering a moose hide pin at www.moosehidecampaign.ca/pins
With each pin shown to spark 5 conversations, the Moose Hide Campaign has now inspired over 20 million conversations about domestic violence since its inception, but there is still a long road ahead in the journey for change.
- Organizing a local event to take an active role in ending gender-based violence in your community.
“Whether you are choosing to fast with us, join the livestream or wear your moose hide pin every day, your participation is a meaningful, measurable, and impactful way to help create safe families, organizations and communities. Violence is 100% preventable, and together, we can end gender-based violence in Canada,” said David Stevenson, CEO, Moose Hide Campaign.About The Moose Hide Campaign
The Moose Hide Campaign is a grassroots movement of Indigenous and non-Indigenous men and boys who are standing up against violence towards women, children, and all those along the gender continuum. It was created by Paul and Raven Lacerte, an Indigenous father and daughter from the Carrier First Nation. Twelve years ago, while on their annual moose-hunting trip, on their traditional territory along the Highway of Tears, where so many Indigenous women were murdered or went missing, they were inspired to launch this initiative. Wearing the moose hide pin signifies a commitment to honour, respect and protect the women and children in your life and speak out against gender-based and domestic violence. Each moose hide pin sparks five conversations, helping to bring this critical issue into the light.
For further information: Media Contact: Anna Woodmass, NATIONAL Public Relations, E: email@example.com, P: (416) 571-2147
April 26, 2023
The Moose Hide Campaign presented its four millionth moose hide pin to the Honourable Senator Michèle Audette
NationTalk: OTTAWA, ON, April 26, 2023 – Today, the Moose Hide Campaign presented its four millionth moose hide pin to the Honourable Senator Michèle Audette, one of the commissioners responsible for conducting the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.
The gift of the four millionth moose hide pin reflects Senator Audette’s lifelong commitment to the cause of supporting Indigenous women and her tireless work on Reconciliation between peoples.
With over four million pins distributed since 2011, the Moose Hide campaign has engaged Canadians from coast-to-coast in a collective movement to stand up against violence towards women and children. Studies have shown that each pin generates five conversations about ending gender-based violence. The four millionth pin symbolizes over 20 million impactful conversations. Wearing the moose hide pin signifies a commitment to honour, respect, and protect the women and children in your life and speaks out against gender-based and domestic violence.
The ceremony took place at the Senate Building in Ottawa.
Raven Lacerte, co-founder of the Moose Hide Campaign, presented the pin to Senator Audette. Raven Lacerte and her father Paul Lacerte were inspired to start the Moose Hide Campaign on an annual moose-hunt twelve years ago. The hunt took place on their traditional territory along the Highway of Tears in British Columbia, where so many Indigenous women were murdered or went missing.
Since then, thousands of Canadians have participated in the Campaign every year and worn a moose hide pin as a symbol of solidarity in standing up against violence towards women and children in Canada.
The presentation of the four million pin comes in advance of Moose Hide Campaign Day on May 11. In 2022, over 400,000 Canadians took part in the Campaign Day by participating in the Walk to End Violence, fasting, ceremony and education about gender-based violence and reconciliation.
Anyone interested in joining can register directly to the Moose Hide Campaign at:https://moosehidecampaign.ca/campaignday/
About The Moose Hide Campaign
The Moose Hide Campaign is a grassroots movement of Indigenous and non-Indigenous men and boys who are standing up against violence towards women and children. It was created by Paul and Raven Lacerte, an Indigenous father and daughter from the Carrier First Nation. Twelve years ago, while on their annual moose-hunting trip, on their traditional territory along the Highway of Tears, where so many Indigenous women were murdered or went missing, they were inspired to launch this initiative. Wearing the moose hide pin signifies a commitment to honour, respect and protect the women and children.
Anna Woodmass, NATIONAL Public Relations
August 19, 2022
Michelle O’Bonsawin, the Supreme Court of Canada’s first Indigenous justice
‘I am optimistic it will erase a blind spot’: Who is Michelle O’Bonsawin, the Supreme Court of Canada’s first Indigenous justice?
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced her nomination Friday, the fifth selection he’s made for the top court since the Liberals came to power in 2015.
Toronto Star: OTTAWA — In the Indigenous Abenaki language, Michelle O’Bonsawin’s last name means “pathfinder.” Now the path she set out for herself as a child finds her poised to make history as the first Indigenous person appointed to the Supreme Court of Canada.
She’ll take the spot being vacated this September by Justice Michael Moldaver, who has reached the legal retirement age for Supreme Court justices.
“Justice Michelle O’Bonsawin is a widely respected member of Canada’s legal community with a distinguished career,” Trudeau said in announcing the appointment. “I’m confident that she’ll bring invaluable knowledge to our country’s highest court, which is why I’m announcing her nomination today.”
O’Bonsawin was born in Hanmer, Ont., just outside of Sudbury, and identifies as a bilingual Franco-Ontarian and an Abenaki member of the Odanak First Nation, according to a news release issued by Trudeau’s office.
In her application, she recounted conversations with her father about the racism they both experienced, and how growing up in a working-class family she was taught there was no job that wasn’t worthwhile.
Although she’d go on to work in retail, and at a chip stand to earn money as a young adult, she knew from the age of nine she wanted to become a lawyer.
“As a First Nations woman growing up in Northern Ontario, I became aware of the need for dedicated individuals to provide a strong, representative voice on behalf of those who could not speak for themselves,” she wrote as part of her application for the Supreme Court appointment.
When in high school, she shared her dream of becoming a lawyer with a guidance counsellor, who dismissed the idea as impossible for someone from a small French town in Northern Ontario. “And I had decided no, this is what I’m going to do. Watch me,” she recalled in a 2020 video for the University of Ottawa’s Jurisvision program.
She applied to join the Ontario court in 2017 after a 17-year legal career that saw her work with the RCMP, Canada Post and the Royal health group. Over those years, she honed a focus and expertise in the intersection between mental health and the law, as well as the application of the Gladue principles, which stem from a 1999 Supreme Court decision declaring an Indigenous individual’s background must be taken into account for sentencing decisions.
She wrote her PhD thesis on the subject while serving as a judge on the Ontario Superior Court.
O’Bonsawin’s name had been circulating in legal circles as a candidate for the job since the process to select Moldaver’s replacement began. Among those in her corner was the Indigenous Bar Association, whose president said in an interview Friday that for years, he did not believe an Indigenous jurist would get the nod.
The barriers to entry are hard to tear down, Drew Lafond said. One is a bilingualism requirement, which sidelines numerous potential candidates. He cited, however, others he hopes will now begin to change with O’Bonsawin’s appointment. “I don’t want (her appointment) to be an example of tokenism,” he said, but a “landmark step” in influencing the inclusion of Indigenous people at the highest ranks of the legal system.
The process that ended with O’Bonsawin’s appointment was the first time the Indigenous Bar Association had a representative on the selection committee, Lafond said.
The amount of time and energy devoted came at the expense of their own families and legal practices, a sign of how seriously the Indigenous legal community took being part of the process, he said. “When you are looking at these legal bodies and you don’t see an Indigenous person, it makes you call into the question the legitimacy of them, and their understanding of Indigenous laws, customs and traditions,” he said.
Another challenge is there’s no legal or even customary requirement to have an Indigenous justice on the top court, in the same way there must be three justices from Quebec.
Lafond said his group will continue to advocate to change the law to ensure Indigenous representation on the court, but that for now, the perspective O’Bonsawin brings to the bench — on top of her “sterling” reputation as a lawyer and judge — will prove the value.
For the first time, there will be a justice who hasn’t just decided over issues involving Indigenous people or their laws in the lower courts, but lived them herself. “I am optimistic it will erase a blind spot at the Supreme Court of Canada,” he said.
Before O’Bonsawin begins the new role, the House of Commons justice committee will hear from the justice minister and the chair of the Independent Advisory Board for Supreme Court of Canada Judicial Appointments about her selection. She’ll also meet with members of Parliament and senators for a question-and-answer session.
That process is normally far less partisan than the hearings which greet nominees to the U.S. Supreme Court. In a statement Friday, the federal Conservatives congratulated O’Bonsawin on her appointment, noting its historic nature and how important the job is.
In her application, O’Bonsawin said she believes justices must stay far away from the political battlefield, and also not allow themselves to be swayed by popular political discourse, including the force that is social media and its ability to allow everyone to voice their views “regardless of whether certain views are inappropriate or insensitive.”
The loudest voices must not be the ones that carry the day in court, she wrote. “A constitutional democracy will face threats, not only from within its borders, but also from abroad which is further facilitated with social media,” she said.
“Beliefs in other areas of the world should not influence or affect how our Constitution is interpreted and applied to all Canadians, absent the pressure of external forces. Our Constitution is only as strong as those who defend it and assure its application to all.”
January 5, 2021
Makigiaqta Inuit Training Corporation
NationTalk – Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated (NTI) initiative with Makigiaqta is to enhance the preparedness of Inuit for employment. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) is again pleased to be partnering with Makigiaqta Inuit Training Corporation to better serve Nunavut.
The RCMP in Nunavut understand that having Inuit serve as RCMP officers breaks down barriers between the police and the community. This partnership will allow Inuit to get the skills and aims to implement additional training program to help applicants through the RCMP’s recruitment process. This will be the second time Makigiaqta is funding a federal government agency’s proposal.
The program will begin in January 2021 and run for four months in Rankin Inlet. During this time, selected applicants will receive literacy and numeracy training, exposure to various police skills and workshops on mental wellness and coping skills. The RCMP will undertake all the steps of the regular recruiting process during these four months to minimize barriers to success. The goal of the program is to have the applicants ready to attend the RCMP’s Training Academy in Regina, Saskatchewan for six months of basic training. The Assisted Application Training Program is in line with the restrictions currently implemented and mandated by the Health Minister and the Government of Nunavut.
July 7, 2020
National Indigenous Justice Summit
Terrace Standard – Indigenous thinkers, community leaders, and grassroots organizations met over two days to call for immediate justice and policing reform. The summit was structured around three sessions:
- Need for policing reform
- Indigenous approaches to justice reform
- Community-based Calls for Reform
The 10 immediate action points reflect shared recommendations that have been compiled from the many studies and reports that have been done. It is presented as a starting point for a discussion.
Indigenous Bar Association: Summit Notice, Agenda and Immediate Action Points:
1. Create a National Indigenous-led Police oversight body funded by Canada,
2. Establish a National Protocol for Police Investigations
3. Redirect “Public Safety” funding to services that increase Community safety
4. Implement a multi-pronged Indigenous de-escalation strategy
5. Establish a National Protocol for Police Engagement with Indigenous Peoples
HUMAN RIGHTS PROTECTIONS
6. Amend Canadian and provincial/territorial human rights codes to include “Indigenous identity” as a protected ground against discrimination
COURTS AND BROADER JUSTICE SYSTEM:
7. Create Indigenous Courts
8. Increase Indigenous Representation across all levels of the Criminal Justice system
9. Require Judges to give written reasons in all Indigenous Sentencing Cases
10. Require Judges give written reasons in all Indigenous Child Apprehension Cases where a child is placed outside of their Indigenous community
April 3, 2019
Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre
Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre (DEWC released “Red Women Rising”, a comprehensive report regarding the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. The over-representation in statistics on homicides, poverty, homelessness, child apprehensions, police street checks, incarceration, and overdose fatalities is not a coincidence; it is part of an infrastructure of gendered colonial violence. Colonial state practices target women for removal from Indigenous lands, tear children from their families, enforce impoverishment, and manufacture the conditions for dehumanization.
This unprecedented work shares their powerful first-hand realities of violence, residential schools, colonization, land, resource extraction, family trauma, poverty, labour, housing, child welfare, being two-spirit, police, prisons, legal system, opioid crisis, healthcare, and more. “We stand behind this excellent report and the Indigenous leadership it provides on the elimination of gender-based violence on these lands.” – Yellowhead Institute.
May 23, 2018
Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN)
determinNATION: Moving Beyond the Indian Act Conference will be Indigenous-led and will create a venue for a broad range of voices including Indigenous youth, women, leaders, Elders, legal and scholarly experts, keepers of traditional Indigenous knowledge, as well as representatives from the Government of Canada to create a plan for moving beyond the Indian Act.
The event will cover principles that underlie the Indigenous-government relationship and include a diverse range of delegates, presenters, and other special guests. Working together, participants will contribute to a concrete, actionable solution for overcoming barriers to de-colonize the relationship between Indigenous Peoples and the Government of Canada.
May 1, 2013
Phyllis (Jack) Webstad and Orange Shirt Day
Orange Shirt Day is a legacy of the St. Joseph Mission (SJM) Residential School (1891-1981) Commemoration Project and Reunion events that took place in Williams Lake, BC, Canada, in May 2013. This project was the vision of Esketemc (Alkali Lake) Chief Fred Robbins, who is a former student himself. As spokesperson for the Reunion group leading up to the events, former student Phyllis (Jack) Webstad told her story of her first day at residential school when her shiny new orange shirt, bought by her grandmother, was taken from her as a six-year old girl. The annual Orange Shirt Day on September 30th opens the door to global conversation on all aspects of Residential Schools. It is an opportunity to create meaningful discussion about the effects of Residential Schools and the legacy they have left behind.
June 28, 2005
Sisters in Spirit vigil
Vigils take place across Canada and internationally every October 4 to honour the lives of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. Hosted for the first time in 2006 by the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC), 11 vigils were held that year. In 2017 there were an impressive 212 vigils held across Canada and internationally. Family members, Indigenous community members, and concerned citizens gather for a vigil every October 4th to honour the memory of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. Vigils take place in communities across Canada as well as internationally. These gatherings serve to raise awareness and to provide support to families who have lost a loved one. (NWAC)
June 17, 2005
Kawaskimhon National Aboriginal Moot
Established in 1995 at the Faculty of Law at the University of Toronto, the Kawaskimhon National Aboriginal Moot is unique among moot court competitions in the world, in that it is conducted in accordance with Aboriginal customs of peaceful negotiation and consensus-building rather than adversarial competition. The moot attracts teams from law schools across Canada. The 2019 Moot is at the Schulich School of Law at Dalhousie University with representation from 18 Law Schools from across Canada.
Each team represents a different party in a complex negotiation concerning Aboriginal law, and works toward consensus with the help of Aboriginal facilitators and an elder. The format of Kawaskimhon, which is a Cree word meaning “to speak with knowledge,” encourages students to bring their unique personal perspectives to bear on a collective problem affecting Aboriginal peoples and to work toward a mutual consensus.