Ontario launches women’s advisory council on National Indigenous Day

Published On June 23, 2020 | By Kajal Pawar | News
Kajal Pawar

Ontario announced members that will be part of the new Indigenous Women’s Advisory Council on June 21 in celebration of National Indigenous Peoples Day.

The council, which includes leaders from First Nations, Métis, Inuit, and LGBTQ2S  communities, will address issues involving violence against Indigenous women and to provide input on issues such as human trafficking and child, youth and family well being, the province announced.

There has never existed a dedicated provincial forum of Indigenous women and LGBTQ2S leaders to address violence. The formation of this council was announced on June 1 in honour of first day of National Indigenous History Month in Canada.

Cora-lee McGuire-Cyrette, the executive director of the Ontario Native Women’s Association and co-chair of new Indigenous Women’s Association. (twitter/_ONWA)

Cora-lee McGuire-Cyrette, executive director of the Ontario Native Women’s Association, will co-chair the council. The other co-chair is expected to be selected in early July during the council’s first meeting, according to the statement.

“I’m honoured to accept this position and work with our Indigenous partners and the Ontario government. It will take everyone working together to address issues of gender-based violence and systemic racism,” she said.

Thirteen per cent of all Indigenous women, which is almost 67,000 individuals aged 15 and over, voiced they had been violently victimized in 2009, according to StatsCan report titled Violent victimization of Aboriginal women in the Canadian provinces

More than 56 per cent of Indigenous women reported cases of severe form of spousal violence, according to the 2014 Criminal victimization in Canada by StatsCan. 

The number of non-Indigenous women reporting severe forms of violence declined to 37 per cent in 2004 from 43 per cent in 1999. In contrast, the number of similar attacks against Indigenous women remained the same at 54 per cent during the same time period, according to report Measuring Violence against Women: Statistical Trends by StatsCan.

While these numbers are still extremely high, government statistics are based on police-collected data which only represent the cases reported to the police. Six out of 10 violent crimes incidents against Indigenous people go unreported, according to the Fact Sheet: Violence Against Aboriginal Women by Native Women’s Association of Canada.

The Fact Sheet also suggested StatsCan research mainly focuses on domestic and spousal violence and little attention has been paid to other forms of violence. 

The research conducted by Native Women’s Association in Canada indicated homicides involving Indigenous women are more likely to remain unsolved. Only 53 per cent of murder cases in their database were solved as opposed to 84 per cent of all murder cases across the country.

“The high rate of violence against Indigenous women and girls is unacceptable and must be addressed as quickly as possible,” said Jill Dunlop, Ontario’s associate minister of children and women’s issues.

“Indigenous women deserve to feel safe and secure. By establishing this Council, we can actively work in partnership with Indigenous leaders and community partners to deal with violence in a culturally-relevant way,” she said.

The Indigenous Women’s Advisory Council includes members from Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres, Six Nations of the Grand River, Independent First Nations, Métis Nation of Ontario, Nishnawbe Aski Nation, and the Union of Ontario Indians/Anishinabek Nation.

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