MMIWG inquiry hears how former First Nation chief faced sexism, bullying

APTN News
The National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls publicly heard from a former First Nation chief for the first time Thursday, as she testified about the sexism, bullying and intimidation she faced as a leader.

Adrienne Anichinapeo, who spent eight years in politics in the small Anicinape community of Kitcisakik, about 130 kilometres south of Val d’Or, said she wanted to tackle issues like a lack of running water and electricity. But she told the inquiry she faced problems from within her own band and often felt she was ignored.

“We are very far from accepting a woman can lead a community,” she said, adding she was not respected in her position like the men who preceded her.

She lost the election in August 2017 and has been trying to find a job within the community since.

“The conditions in our community have not changed,” she said, adding that she has to drive for an hour out of town to do laundry. In the winter, she said her children have to leave the house to shower.

Viviane Michel, president of Quebec Native Women Inc., told APTN that women in many Quebec First Nations face barriers to political work. The Innu community of Mingan, Que. is the only First Nation out of Quebec’s 44 Indigenous communities that has mandated gender parity on its council, she said.

The solution is not setting a quota for women on council, but educating all First Nations members and encouraging more women to step up and run in elections, she said.

Francyne Joe, president of the Native Women’s Association of Canada, said Indigenous women in leadership roles across the country often face sexism, violence, racism and bullying.

“We work in a patriarchal system that is built on years of colonization which has disrupted our roles as leaders in our communities,” she said in an emailed statement.

Commissioner Michèle Audette said the inquiry has heard similar testimonies from Indigenous women in leadership positions, but during private hearings.

“We needed to hear that. Canada needs to hear that,” she said. “Our communities especially need to hear that.”

On Thursday, the inquiry focused on survivors of violence. Anichinapeo said she experienced sexual violence growing up. When she lost the Kitcisakik election last August, she accepted it but suddenly found herself without work for the first time in her life. That’s when her troubled past caught up to her. Her story is one of many in her community, she said.

“I look at the parents and children who live there and I see their misery.”

More than 70 survivors and family members are expected to testify publicly or privately at the inquiry in Montreal this week. The hearings wrap up Friday.

4 thoughts on “MMIWG inquiry hears how former First Nation chief faced sexism, bullying

  1. Time to hold FN Chiefs accountable just like Hollywood scandal. This issue must be exposed & as this behaviour no longer acceptable. Never has been. Problem is: People turning blind eye for own personal gains.

  2. Time to hold FN Chiefs accountable just like Hollywood scandal. This issue must be exposed & as this behaviour no longer acceptable. Never has been. Problem is: People turning blind eye for own personal gains.

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