For over 143 years, First Nations women and their descendants have had to fight a long and winding battle to dismantle the sex-based discrimination that has been perpetuated by the Indian Act. On August 15, 2019, these women, advocates, and communities celebrated a momentous victory for gender equality as the Government of Canada finally brought the outstanding provisions of Bill S-3 into force. These final Bill S-3 provisions will eliminate remaining sex-based inequities from the Indian Act and abolish the 1951 cut-off from the Indian Act registration provisions.
Ottawa, ON – The National Action Plan and Federal Pathway on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls is not an adequate response to the crisis of murders and disappearances, and the ongoing genocide against Indigenous women and girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people that was identified by the National Inquiry. This is the conclusion of a number of Indigenous women experts, grassroots groups and organizations who work with Indigenous families, survivors and communities. They have grave concerns about the immediate health, safety and well-being of Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people.
The final report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls issued 231 Calls for Justice to be included in a National Action Plan to end genocide that would be grounded in Canada’s domestic and international human rights and Indigenous rights obligations. Co-ordination across jurisdictions was understood by the Inquiry to be a critical part of any Plan moving forward.
The Plan entitled: 2021 National Action Plan: Ending Violence against Indigenous Women, Girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ People, drafted by a working group of selected Indigenous organizations and government officials, sets out a vision, goals, and immediate next steps. This plan does not answer how to keep Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people safe, with no specific information about how, when and by whom concrete actions will be taken. Nowhere in the document do governments acknowledge and accept responsibility for the laws, policies, and practices that contribute to, and perpetuate, the ongoing genocide of Indigenous peoples, and specifically of Indigenous women, girls 2SLGBTQQIA+ people.
Indigenous women, communities, families, survivors, experts and allies have worked for decades to shine a light on this crisis and demand accountability for the murders and disappearances by governments and institutions. There would never have been a National Inquiry were it not for their determined advocacy. Canada’s failure to create a proper plan to end genocide does not fall on those groups who provided input into the plan.
This comes at a specifically difficult time for many Indigenous women and families who are also residential school survivors. The discovery of the mass grave of 215 children represents an incomprehensible trauma to the Secwépemc peoples, survivors and communities across the country who have long known about other unmarked and mass graves. This is why Canada was found guilty of historic and ongoing genocide of Indigenous peoples that has led to high rates of violence against Indigenous women and girls today. This is yet another reason why Canada must take concrete steps to end the genocide and all forms of harm.
The National Action Plan, together with the Federal Pathway document, are together extremely disappointing because they do not provide the comprehensive, system-wide, inter-governmental plan that is needed to end genocide. There is no commitment for urgent emergency services to prevent the abuse, exploitation, disappearances and murders of Indigenous women and girls; nor is there a monitoring mechanism - independent of the government of Canada - to monitor the urgent end to genocide.
“With this document, Canada has once again dismissed the stories and voices of thousands of Indigenous women, survivors, and families and shown its willingness to be complicit as we continue to go missing and be murdered. We call for immediate action and full implementation of the Calls for Justice and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.” Kukpi7 Judy Wilson, Secretary-Treasurer of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs
“Considering that there is no coordination between the different levels of government, we ask ourselves what is the use of this work?” Viviane Michel, President, Quebec Native Women
“The Nation-to-Nation process continues to marginalize and alienate Indigenous women and the representatives of their choice from substantive legal, policy and economic decision-making and governance over their own lives.” Dr. Dawn Lavell-Harvard, President, Ontario Native Women’s Association
"The Plan and Pathway do not make expedited registration of First Nations women and their descendants an urgent priority. There are thousands of women and their descendants who are now entitled to status. They need to be registered to end the discrimination they have suffered for decades. It is long past time to restore First Nations women to their rightful place in their communities and nation." Sharon McIvor, Feminist Alliance for International Action
“I am pleased to see that intersectionality was included as a guiding principle in the Plan and that it recognizes the higher rates of victimization for Indigenous women and girls who have disabilities; but I don’t see a plan address this lived reality.” Dr. Lynn Gehl
“This is not a national action plan. A national action plan defines concrete actions that will be taken and assigns responsibility, resources and timelines for implementing them. This ‘Plan’ does none of that.” Shelagh Day, Chair, Human Rights Committee, Feminist Alliance for International Action
“Canada is a state perpetrator of genocide which specifically targets Indigenous women and girls for violence, exploitation, dispossession and oppression. Its failure to accept full responsibility for genocide and outline a plan to end it on an urgent, national basis puts the lives of Indigenous women and girls at grave risk.” Dr. Pamela Palmater, Chair in Indigenous Governance, Ryerson University
Indigenous women, in collaboration with communities, families, survivors, advocates and allies, will continue to push Canada to take urgent action and be accountable to end genocide.
December 10th, 2020
Toronto, ON – To mark International Human Rights Day, The Canadian Feminist Alliance for International Action (FAFIA) in partnership with YWCA Canada have released a special chapter on how to push forward a human rights approach to post-pandemic recovery.
As Maya Roy, CEO of YWCA Canada shares, “The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us what was already broken in society. Canada has never seen a crisis like this so we need a new approach. That’s what Canada’s Feminist Economic Recovery Plan offers. However, many of the things that would have made a difference in this pandemic are grounded in pre-existing human rights obligations Canada has been a signatory to. Now is the time to act on our commitments.”
Hawa Mire, Executive Director of FAFIA highlights, "COVID-19 has exposed the deep inequities that already existed in Canada for women especially for Black women, Indigenous women, racialized women, non-status, newcomer women, women living with disabilities and 2SLGBTQ communities. It is time to recognize that this is not only a health crisis but the amplification of a systemic and structural social crisis right here in Canada.”
The A Feminist Economic Recovery Plan for Canada: Human Rights Approach publication provides an intersectional feminist human rights lens on what a meaningful COVID-19 recovery could be for our country.
Key human rights examined in the chapter include:
The Right to an Adequate Standard of Living
The Right to the Highest Standard Attainable of Physical and Mental Health
The Right to Adequate Housing
The Right to Social Security
Mire shares, “a Feminist Economic Recovery Plan must include the voices, perspectives as well as actionable commitments for the communities that are so often left behind. FAFIA has designed this chapter to continue strong advocacy on the use of a human rights-based approach as an important foundation for all Canadians."
Roy concludes, “The COVID-19 pandemic has provided a once-in-a-generation opportunity for Canada to finally realize its human rights commitments. In this publication, FAFIA and YWCA Canada lay out the human rights framework we can leverage to build an economy and society that works for everyone. Today, we offer the tools and the roadmap to make it a reality.”
On January 28th, YWCA Canada and FAFIA will host an event to unpack the publication. Registration is available at: https://gender-equity-human-rights-covid-19-recovery.eventbrite.ca
The publication builds on YWCA Canada’s earlier work on A Feminist Economic Recovery Plan for Canada: Making the Economy Work for Everyone with the Institute for Gender and Economy (GATE) at the University of Toronto. The plan was the first nationally-focused feminist economic recovery plan in the world. Read the entire plan at www.feministrecovery.ca
The Canadian Feminist Alliance for International Action (FAFIA) is an alliance of equality-seeking organizations committed to making international agreements on women’s human rights a reality in women’s everyday lives in Canada. FAFIA provides a forum for women from across Canada to work together to ensure a better quality of life for all women in Canada. FAFIA’s membership spans a diverse array of organizations ranging from research institutes to service providers. FAFIA’s membership is also regionally diverse, with members from 10 Provinces and Territories, as well as many national member organizations.
To learn more about FAFIA-AFAI, visit: https://fafia-afai.org/About YWCA Canada
YWCA Canada is a leading voice for women, girls, Two-Spirit, and gender diverse people. For 150 years, we’ve been at the forefront of a movement: to fight gender-based violence, build affordable housing, and advocate for workplace equity. We work to advance gender equity by responding to urgent needs in communities, through national advocacy and grassroots initiatives. Local YWCAs invest over $258 million annually to support over 330,000 individuals across the nation. Today, we engage young leaders, diverse communities, and corporate partners to achieve our vision of a safe and equitable Canada for all.
To learn more about YWCA Canada, visit: http://www.ywcacanada.ca/For media inquiries, please contact:
Anjum Sultana, National Director of Public Policy & Strategic Communications, YWCA Canada
[email protected] | 647 205 3079
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