NationTalk: OTTAWA – The federal Justice department has closed the door on Canada’s largest national Indigenous women’s organization when it meets with provincial and territorial ministers next week, effectively opting not to address Indigenous gender-based issues in any meaningful way.
Though Canada recognizes five National Indigenous Organizations (NIOs), including the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC), only some groups will have a seat at the table. Excluding NWAC from national discussions on justice issues is a significant rebuff to the organization that is the recognized expert on matters related to Indigenous women, girls, gender-diverse, two-spirit, and transgender people in Canada.
The people represented by NWAC face high rates of incarceration, violence, and abuse – all issues that should be central to any discussion of justice. Just yesterday, NWAC honoured the thousands of Indigenous mothers, grandmothers, aunties, and girls who have gone missing or been murdered at its annual Sisters and Spirit vigil. NWAC is committed to holding Canada accountable to ending the genocide by answering the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls 231 Calls to Justice.
NWAC anticipates those with seats at the table will discuss matters that directly impact the people it represents, such as implementing the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act, Indigenous policing, mandatory minimum sentences, overincarceration and the MMIWG genocide. Indigenous women and gender-diverse people are valued leaders, decision-makers and knowledge keepers in their families, communities, and governments. Without their perspective, government discussions are unlikely to consider gender-specific solutions to undoing systemic discrimination.
If NWAC does not hold a seat at the table, Canada’s promises of reconciliation and gender-based equality remain empty.
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