NWAC pulls out of ‘dysfunctional’ national action plan process with feds

The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) has lost confidence in the federal government’s process to address violence against Indigenous women because officials have put politics and not families first.

The organization called the federal route “dysfunctional” and has gone ahead with their own blueprint for a national action plan.

The association announced their intentions Tuesday and said their input was not appreciated by the federal process.

“We were clearly an afterthought and perhaps even an unwelcome intruder in the government’s process,” said NWAC President Lorraine Whitman at a briefing Tuesday. She said they were shut out of major decision making processes during the creation of the federal plan. “In addition, on the committees that we were permitted to sit at, we were subjected to lateral violence and hostility.

“It eventually reached levels that forced us to walk away.”

In response to a request from APTN News, the office of Crown-Indigenous Relations Northern Affairs Canada (CIRNAC) Minister Carolyn Bennett offered this statement:

“We are greatly appreciative of NWAC’s work from past engagement efforts, value their input to date and will continue to work with them through the Canada-NWAC Accord,” said the statement.

The statement did not address the accusations raised by NWAC.

On Thursday, the second anniversary since the national inquiry released its calls for justice, CIRNAC and its partners will release its action plan.

But NWAC is not waiting and has released its own 65 step national action plan and highlighted some of the initiatives.

Of greatest significance is the establishment of land-based resiliency lodges across Canada. With an annual budget of $10 million, these lodges would foster holistic healing and empowerment.

The plan also includes providing training, educational opportunities and entrepreneurial support to help Indigenous women break from the bonds of financial dependence.

Among other things, the action plan will continue to run art workshops to promote healing and economic opportunities. Since COVID-19, these workshops are now underway and offered online.

The total implementation cost of NWAC’s action plan is estimated at $29 million annually.

On Monday, the Prime Minister Justin Trudeau alluded to the fact that the anniversary of the MMIWG inquiry’s final report is coming up in a couple of days.

“We’re going to continue to invest and partner with Indigenous communities and activists,” Trudeau said to reporters at a press conference.

“To make sure that we are responding and ending this violence that continues to run unchecked in too many parts of the country.”

Also frustrated with a seemingly slow federal response to the safety of Indigenous women is Martha Martin, the mother of Chantel Moore.

Moore was shot and killed by police in Edmundston, N.B., last year during a health check.

The anniversary of her death is on June 4 and her mother says it’s time Indigenous people stood up for change.

“Indigenous people are killed time and time again,” Martin said at the NWAC briefing. “It just feels like there’s no end to our hurting and it continues to keep happening to Indigenous people.”

NWAC said they will be seeking funding for their initiatives from all levels of government and are confident in their plan because its goals are action oriented and measurable.

They said their list of 65 objectives intended to end genocide against Indigenous women were made by women, for women and actioned by women.