Trudeau slights two national indigenous organizations from ministers meeting

Several leaders, indigenous and Canadian spoke out today after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau left two indigenous organizations out of the First Ministers Meeting on Climate Change.

In his promises to facilitating a nation to nation relationship with First Nations people – Trudeau promised to work with the five nationally recognized indigenous institutions.

Invitations were extended to the Assembly of First Nations, the Metis National Council and Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami — however the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples and the Native Women’s Association of Canada were not invited.

NDP Leader Tom Mulcair said there is no excuse for leaving out two of the five groups and says Trudeau should issue an apology.

An official Statement from Dawn Lavell-Harvard on the Exclusion of the Native Women’s Association of Canada from March 2016 First Ministers Meeting in Vancouver was released today. Here is the letter in its entirety:

(March 3, 2016) (Vancouver, BC) ― When former Prime Minister Paul Martin hosted the First Ministers and National Aboriginal Leaders meeting in the lead up to the Kelowna Accord in 2005, the Native Women’s Association of Canada was at the table.

Today, during this critical First Ministers Meeting in Vancouver, without clear explanation or justification, the Native Women’s Association of Canada was not invited.

Despite our strength, resilience and natural role as life givers – as the very heartbeat of our communities – for decades, Indigenous women and girls have struggled to have our voices heard.

Over the years, we have been categorically silenced, excluded, and forced out of critical decision-making processes by Indigenous and non-Indigenous men alike as a result of sexism, racism, and patriarchal systemic barriers.

To that end, in protest for my not receiving an official invitation to this First Ministers Meeting, I am present here in Vancouver today to fight for Indigenous women and girls from across Canada.

Choosing to exclude the Native Women’s Association of Canada from the First Ministers Meeting was unfair, and speaks volumes to the ongoing lack of respect for Indigenous women’s and girls’ voices in Canada.

While NWAC welcomes the decision to call a National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (an historic and long-awaited undertaking which NWAC was the first to call for), we refuse to be excluded from major meetings and consultations with the government, particularly with the Prime Minister.

Indigenous women and girls deserve a place at the table.
Dawn Lavell-Harvard
Native Women’s Association of Canada

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