Canada’s largest and oldest Indigenous organization celebrates 50 years of service

Ontario Native Women’s Association says it’s looking forward to years of advocacy in the province.


The Ontario Native Women’s Association (ONWA) planted their roots back in 1971 when Jeanette Corbiere Lavall and a group of Thunder Bay women fought to challenge part of the Indian Act which revoked a women’s status if she was not married to an Indian Man.

Since those days, ONWA has come a long way, says executive director Cora McGuire-Cyrette.

“50 years of advocating, 50 years of fighting every which way to have our voices heard gives us that moment to stop and reflect,” said McGuire-Cyrette.

The non-profit organization works to help Ontario’s Indigenous women and families, by focusing on programing, research, and resources.

According to McGuire-Cyrette, ONWA connected with over forty-thousand people in Ontario this past year.

She says the most important part of ONWA’s work is how it brings women together.

“Making change and supporting each other in a healthy way is one of the most beautiful things you can participate in and be a part of,” she said.

Looking to the next 50 years, McGuire-Cyrette says ONWA leans on the young women that will lead the organization and fight for Indigenous women.

“We want to prevent our daughters, our granddaughters, our families, children from being a statistic. So that’s where we need to begin.”

Video Journalist / Thunder Bay

Michelle is a video journalist from rural Manitoba with a Creative Communications Degree from Red River College. Before APTN, Michelle worked as an editor-in-chief for The Projector online publication.