Missing/murdered Aboriginal women in Canada: Applying Gender-Based Analysis within a Culturally Relevent Paradigm
After almost one year of negotiations, the Native Women’s Association of Canada is pleased to announce that they have received a five-year funding agreement from the government of Canada to address the issue of missing and murdered Aboriginal women in Canada. This initiative is titled "Sisters in Spirit".
Through the Sisters In Spirit initiative, the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) works in collaboration with other Aboriginal women’s organizations and the federal government to improve the human rights of Aboriginal women and address the violence facing Aboriginal women, in particular the high rates of missing and murdered Aboriginal women in Canada. The main objective of the SIS initiative is to address violence against Aboriginal (First Nations Inuit and Métis) women particularly subject to racialized and/or sexualized violence, that is, violence perpetrated against Aboriginal women because of their gender and Aboriginal identity. This type of violence typically occurs in the public sphere, where societal indifference often leaves Aboriginal women at greater risk. When Aboriginal women go missing, their disappearance does not receive the same attention as non-Aboriginal women. This initiative is designed to respond to this indifference by mobilizing the caring power of community.NWAC has received funding for five years from the government of Canada to research and help address the root causes of violence against Aboriginal women, who face discrimination based on gendered racism. The initiative recognizes the need to focus on addressing the multiple forms of oppression facing Aboriginal women and to recognize the complexity of the problems facing Canadian Aboriginal women. Specifically, the funding is designed to increase public understanding and knowledge at a national level of the impact of racialized, sexualized violence against Aboriginal women often leading to their disappearance and death, through the development of community action kits, workshops and conferences.
The initiative is also undertaking qualitative (life histories) and quantitative research on racialized, sexualized violence against Aboriginal women with the families who have female family members that are missing or murdered, in order to gain a better understanding of circumstances, root causes and trends. The initiative is also working with families and the community to develop a policy agenda, whereby NWAC will work with government and community stakeholders to influence required changes.
NWAC will share with participants the culturally-specific gender-based framework they have articulated to guide their research, education and analysis of this issue. Discussion with participants will include the challenges faced in getting the government of Canada to recognize the increased risks faced by Aboriginal women. Promising practices and key partnerships subsequently formed (including with the government of Canada) will also be discussed with the participants. Preliminary findings will be shared with participants and discussion will focus on gaining an understanding of the extent of racialized/sexualized violence against Indigenous women (or marginalized women) internationally, and gain feedback from participants on other strategies they may be engaged in to address this alarming issue.
Keywords: Aboriginal women, Racialized Sexualized violence, Gender Based Analysis
President, Native Women's Association of Canada (NWAC)
Beverley Jacobs has been a professor at various educational institutions in Ontario and Saskatchewan, teaching courses on self-determination, Canadian Indian policies, Canadian law and Aboriginal people, First Nations women and the law, and indigenous law, just to name a few. She is also a public speaker and has made numerous presentations across the country on various issues affecting Aboriginal people and specifically, Aboriginal women.
Beverley is very active in her community as a traditional Mohawk woman. She works extensively with the Six Nations traditional chiefs and clan mothers in order to advance indigenous sovereignty. In the past year, she has been working extensively in the international fora. For example, she attended the IV Continental Meeting of Indigenous Women in Lima, Peru. She proudly represented the Six Nations Confederacy at the recent United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (PFII) - the focus this year was on indigenous women. At the PFII, she made two interventions and met many indigenous women from across the world. She was invited by the Consejo Sami Maya situated in Guatemala to sit on a panel entitled "Who Killed Her?" She spoke about the violence against indigenous women in Canada specifically, the issues surrounding the missing and murdered indigenous women in Canada.
Andrea J. Williams
Research and Policy Advisor, Native Women's Association of Canada