NWAC


Press Release – For Immediate Release Ottawa, ON (November 27, 2009) – The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) is dismayed that the Supreme Court of Canada has agreed to broaden the scope of Robert Pickton’s appeal on six counts of second-degree murder. Effectively, the decision gives Pickton more grounds to argue that his convictions should be overturned. His trial concluded in 2007 and was one of the most high profile, longest, and expensive in Canadian history. Many of Pickton’s victims were Aboriginal or of Aboriginal descent. “Robert Pickton was sentenced to life in prison for stealing the lives of six women. Each of these women was a mother, sister, auntie, or friend to someone,” stated NWAC President Jeannette Corbiere Lavell. “We recognize that the ongoing appeals make it extremely difficult for the families to continue forward in their healing journeys.” NWAC released a report earlier this year, Voices of Our Sisters In Spirit: A Report to Families and Communities, 2nd Edition, documenting 520 Aboriginal women and girls either having gone missing or have been murdered, the majority in the last thirty years. 43 per cent of the murder cases remain unsolved. NWAC’s research indicates that at least one third of the women missing from Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside are Aboriginal or of Aboriginal descent. In addition to being convicted of six counts of second-degree murder, Pickton was charged on another 20 counts of first-degree murder. The Crown does not plan to proceed with the additional charges if the first six convictions are upheld. NWAC regards this decision as utter disrespect for the families that have lost loved ones. “Our women deserve dignity and support. If a new trial is needed, it should be for the 20 other victims whose families continue looking for answers,” concluded President Corbiere Lavell. NWAC wishes to offer its condolences and ongoing support for the families of the missing and murdered women. NWAC’s Sisters In Spirit initiative is a research, education and policy initiative designed to address the disturbing numbers of missing and murdered Aboriginal women in Canada. Through the work of the initiative, NWAC works to honour the women and girls who have been lost to violence and remember those who are missing. The Native Women’s Association of Canada is founded on the collective goal to enhance, promote, and foster the social, economic, cultural and political well-being of Aboriginal women within the Aboriginal community and Canadian society. In 2009, as we celebrate our 35th year of service, we are proud to continue to speak as a voice for Aboriginal women. -30- For more information contact: Joshua Kirkey, Communications Advisor Native Women’s Association of Canada...

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Ottawa, ON (November 6, 2009) – After over twenty years in a fight for equality, yesterday the Supreme Court of Canada dismissed with costs the case of Sharon Donna McIvor v. Registrar, Indian and Northern Affairs Canada. The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) is disappointed with the decision not to grant leave to appeal to Sharon McIvor, given that the issue of who can or cannot be an Indian is surely one of national importance. “Ms. McIvor fought for many years for her, her children and her grandchildren’s rights. She has fought for all Aboriginal women and men who deserve the proper rights acquired to them and I congratulate her for her determination,” stated NWAC President Jeannette Corbiere Lavell. “Yesterday’s decision represented an opportunity for the highest court of the land to redress historic and ongoing discrimination against Aboriginal women under the Indian Act. I am especially disappointed that the court has dismissed the appeal with costs. This punishes the litigant for bringing an action. Clearly, I feel the onus should be on the government to come to the table to resolve these policy issues through a process that deals with the issue of citizenship.” President Corbiere Lavell continued, “This issue is of the utmost importance to Aboriginal women. The loss of status when a First Nations woman married a non-Aboriginal man is one of the primary reasons why NWAC was founded in the 1970s. Bill C-31 was initially seen as a means to bring equality to First Nations women by removing sexual discrimination in the Indian Act; but the reality is that it created more discrimination not only against Aboriginal women but also against their male and female children, grandchildren and all future descendants. It created more division in families, communities and Nations. It introduced further bureaucratic categories of status, non-status, 6 (1) and 6 (2) Indians, cutting off the descendants of women who originally lost their status.” The federal government is pursuing an amendment to the Indian Act to respond to direction from the B.C. Court of Appeal, with a bill expected to be tabled in the House of Commons in January. The bill will not contain a comprehensive redress for historic discrimination against Aboriginal women and their descendents, contrary to the results Ms. McIvor sought to achieve through her appeal to the Supreme Court. “I personally went to the Supreme Court of Canada in order to regain my Indian Status. Due to continued gender discrimination some of my own grandchildren do not have Indian Status today. I welcome a process that acknowledges First Nations rights to determine who their citizens are and allow for cases...

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Media Advisory – For Immediate Release Aboriginal Leadership to Hold Press Conference for Slain Family Member Ottawa, ON (October 2, 2009) – On October 4th, over 70 Sisters In Spirit vigils will take place across Canada to honour the lives of missing and murdered Aboriginal women and girls. Before the National vigil starts in Ottawa, a special press conference will be held by Aboriginal leadership from several organizations calling for an independent investigation into the death of Gladys Tolley. Gladys Tolley was an Algonquin woman from Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg near Maniwaki, Québec. She was fatally struck by a Sûreté du Québec patrol car on Highway 105 on October 5th, 2001. After many years searching for answers and on the eighth anniversary of her mother’s death, Bridget Tolley, spokesperson for the victim’s family, will join supporters requesting an independent investigation by the Government of Québec in order to shed some light on the circumstances surrounding her mother’s death. When: Sunday, October 4th, 3:30pm EDT Where:University of Ottawa, Desmarais Building 55 Laurier Avenue East Ottawa, ON Gladys Tolley is one of hundreds of Aboriginal women and girls who are missed and still loved by their family and friends. Her memory was the inspiration for the very first Sisters In Spirit vigil in 2006. The vigils have grown from 11 in 2006 to over 70 this year in 2009. Research by the Native Women’s Association of Canada’s Sisters In Spirit initiative confirms that 520 Aboriginal women and girls have disappeared or been murdered over the last 30 years. Following the press conference, media are invited to join a community feast, followed by a unity march to Parliament Hill to take part in a candlelight vigil. A Joint Statement supported by a number of organizations calling for a National Plan of Action will be read throughout Canada on October 4th. For more information contact: Joshua Kirkey, Communications Advisor Native Women’s Association of Canada (613) 722-3033 ext. 231, mobile (613) 290-5680...

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The 2110 Centre for Gender Advocacy and Missing Justice invites you to attend a workshop by the Native Women’s Association of Canada: a Sisters In Spirit (SIS) Community Engagement Workshop. This workshop is designed to educate participants on the SIS initiative and to inform individuals and communities on ways that they can take action on and raise awareness about the alarmingly high rates of violence against Aboriginal women and girls in Canada. Participants will be asked to work with others to envision a strategy for their community’s strengths and needs. When: Wednesday, September 16. Lunch served at 1pm. Workshop: 2-5 pm. Where: The Native Friendship Centre, Montreal, 2001 St. Laurent For the purpose of estimating how many people to feed/ prepare for in terms of the excercises, please RSVP ahead of time by filling out the registration form below....

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Two Events: June 18: A memorial walk and candlelight vigil for the 3rd anniversary of Tiffany Morrison’s disappearance, 8pm in Kahnawake, at the grounds beside the K103 radio station Tiffany Morrison is a 25-year-old Mohawk woman who disappeared after getting in a cab that left LaSalle, Quebec in 2006. She shared a taxi back to Kahnawake with a man from the community, who has told police that she remained in the taxi after he was let out at his house. Tiffany has a daughter to whom she is completely devoted, and as her mother said, “she would never leave her like this.” Police negligence and media blackout continue to act as major barriers to solving the case. Join us to help raise awareness of Tiffany’s case, and to show her family that we will not be silent as their loved one is missing. For more information on Tiffany’s disappearance: www.amnesty.ca/campaigns/sisters_tiffany_morrison.php Transportation: Buses ($2 per person, or by donation) will leave Angrignon station at 7pm, and return at 10:30pm. To reserve a spot on a bus, please contact Kary Ann Deer at Quebec Native Women Inc (450)632-0088 ext.221. Cyclists will meet at Angrignon station at 3:30 and will return to Montreal between 9:30 and 10pm. Email us with any questions at justiceformissing@gmail.com June 17: A workshop held by Sisters in Spirit, 5:30pm in Kahnawake, at the Golden Age Club This workshop will be an opportunity for community members to strategize on the issues surrounding missing and murdered Indigenous women. A light meal will be served at 5pm. The Sisters in Spirit initiative of the Native Women’s Association of Canada works to address violence facing Aboriginal women, in particular focusing on the high rates of missing and murdered Indigenous women in Canada. No transportation has been arranged for this event. Missing Justice is a newly formed grassroots collective based in Montreal that works to eliminate the ongoing and increasing threat to the safety of Indigenous women in Canada, and to dispel harmful stereotypes about First Nations People. Since September, five First Nations women have gone missing in Quebec. Missing Justice recognizes that this, and all violence against Indigenous women is a result of systemic oppression of Indigenous peoples by the government, with the compliance of media and police. Some of the collective’s activities include raising awareness, such as an upcoming Montreal-wide poster campaign, research, information-sharing, media campaigns, popular education and direct action. For more information on Missing Justice please check out:...

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The search for Maisy and Shannon continues by Maya Rolbin-Ghanie and Dru Oja Jay see photo essay – http://www.dominionpaper.ca/articles/2694 KITIGAN ZIBI ANISHINABEG–Maisy Odjick, 17, and her friend Shannon Alexander, now 18, vanished from Shannon’s father’s apartment in Maniwaki, Quebec, September 6, 2008. Both are from Kitigan Zibi, an Algonquin reserve adjacent to Maniwaki. Since September, neither the Kitigan Zibi Police Services nor the Sûreté du Québec has collected any evidence pertaining to the whereabouts of the two girls. When Maisy and Shannon vanished, their wallets and their money were left behind. The police are not ruling out the possibility that the two girls are “runaways.” In addition, the police have repeatedly neglected to communicate with and report back to the two families. The little media attention this case has attracted may be attributed to the constant and determined efforts at media outreach by Maisy’s mother, Laurie Odjick. The two ground searches since the disappearance – December 7, 2008, and May 2, 2009 – were led by Search and Rescue Global 1; both times the Odjick family was the main organizer. According to Search Leader Lawrence Conway, the search for Maisy and Shannon is the first family-organized search he has ever taken part in. Normally, the police call rescue teams and arrange searches. Indigenous women in Canada are five times more likely than other women to die as the result of violence. The official number of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls in Canada since 1980 is 520, two-thirds of whom were murdered and about one-quarter of whom are still missing. Roughly half of these murders and disappearances occurred in the last nine years and over 300 cases are as of yet unsolved. Indigenous grassroots activists and communities put the number of cases closer to 1800. Amnesty International, the United Nations, and the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) have all put forth comprehensive recommendations to the Canadian government to address the violence and discrimination faced by Indigenous women, but so far no action has been taken beyond a small amount of funding allotted for research. NWAC President Beverley Jacobs points out that even working with a number like 520, taken proportionately that “would equal 18,000 women among Canada’s white population. If there were 18,000 white women missing and murdered, it would be headlines. There would be something done...

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