NWAC


Press Release – For Immediate Release   Ottawa, ON (May 14, 2009) – Today the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC), the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) and the AFN Women’s Council united to express their opposition to the federal Bill C-8, An act respecting family homes situated on First Nation reserves and matrimonial interests or rights in or to structures and lands situated on those reserves.   NWAC and the AFN (including the AFN Women’s Council), all agree that Bill C-8 will do nothing to solve the problems associated with Matrimonial Real Property (MRP) on-reserve; that the federal government failed in its duty to consult and accommodate the views of First Nations; and, as a result, the Bill is fatally flawed and cannot be fixed. It should not proceed to committee.   NWAC President Beverley Jacobs says NWAC held meetings with Aboriginal women prior to the introduction of Bill C-47 and produced a “Peoples Report” that included a number of solutions to address MRP. Bill C-47, the predecessor to Bill C-8, and this Bill, C-8, ignore all of those recommendations.   “Aboriginal women, who we met with and who were directly affected by the lack of legal recourse of MRP, stated over and over again that their voices needed to be included in the creation of any legislation,” said NWAC President Jacobs. “They also highlighted non-legislative solutions for the short, medium and long term. We need to ensure that the voices of the women that we talked to are heard and that their solutions are implemented. The resources are needed to implement the non-legislative solutions as soon as possible.”   AFN Women’s Council Chair Kathleen McHugh agrees that there was no effective consultation process. She added that Bill C-8 also ignores the recommendations of the Minister of Indian Affairs’ own Ministerial Representative on MRP, Wendy Grant John, who tabled a report stating that unilateral imposed federal legislation is not the answer.   The organizations are in agreement that Bill C-8 is a one dimensional approach to a complex problem that does not address the real issues in communities.   “All Bill C-8 does is force families into provincial courts. This is not a solution. For many families it’s unaffordable and it will also force families in remote communities to endure long waiting periods before their case can be heard,” said the Chair of the AFN Women Council. President Jacobs agrees, and states that, “I am also deeply concerned that Bill C-8 will put women who are experiencing family violence at further risk by forcing them to wait long periods for justice without adequate social supports, services or shelters.”...

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On Monday, March 16th, Beverley Jacobs came to speak at the McCord Museum in Montreal. Jacobs is the president of NWAC, an Aboriginal rights lawyer, and was a lead researcher in Amnesty International’s 2004 study Stolen Sisters: Discrimination and Violence against Indigenous Women in Canada. She also currently works to raise awareness across the country via NWAC’s Sisters in Spirit campaign. The root causes of violence against Indigenous women in Canada, from a forced shift away from the Matrilineal basis of many First Nations to patriarchal modes of determining “status,” was the crux of Jacobs’ talk. The Indian Act and the Indian Status Card are only two of many symbols of a deeply flawed change of direction that has caused First Nations communities, but particularly the women, to suffer brutally. Jacobs comes from the Mohawk Bear Clan in Six Nations, Grand River, and has a deep sense of history which she shared with those who came out to listen. Montreal is part of her traditional territory and the one request she made of her audience at the end of the night was: “Learn about the land you’re living on. Learn about its history.” Seeing as how one can’t find such historical knowledge in the educatioonal system, her words resonated deeply; a more personal kind of challenge was felt by many and seemingly embraced. In the photo directly above, Jacobs holds a Two Row Wampum Belt. The two rows represent Native and White cultures co-existing side-by-side without interfering in each others’ way of life. Jacobs sees the agreement as profoundly violated, but only by one party. Also in this picture: Kevin Daniels, National Chief of the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples. To hear Beverley Jacobs speak in Montreal, click here:...

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