Thunder Bay, ON - This year has been particularly challenging for Indigenous women and organizations as they continue to experience a crisis on top of a crisis during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Ontario Native Women’s Association (ONWA) continues to take the lead in meeting community needs, and look forward to ongoing collaboration with government at all levels to ensure all Indigenous women’s health and safety concerns are equitably addressed.
ONWA is encouraged to see the government’s proposed investment of $18 billion for Indigenous peoples’ needs, including $2.2 billion over 5 years for actions to end the national tragedy of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. In some areas, this budget takes a preventative approach to safety and family well-being, which aligns with ONWA’s work across portfolios such as child welfare, health, and Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.
It is also promising to see a proposed investment in Indigenous women’s organizations. This aligns with ONWA’s Reconciliation with Indigenous Women Report (2020), which recognizes Indigenous women’s expertise and leadership. ONWA hopes to see further, ongoing acknowledgement of Indigenous women-led approaches, research, and organizations.
While there are a number of encouraging areas in the 2021 federal budget, ONWA is disappointed to see a lack of commitment in some key areas. For example, a comprehensive Urban, Rural and Northern Indigenous Housing Strategy has not yet been announced, despite being laid out in the most recent federal mandate letters. We also have concerns about the focus on distinctions-based funding and policy, as this leaves out urban, rural, and northern Indigenous women and families. It is also important that COVID-19 relief and subsidies continue, and additional targeted funding be made available to all Indigenous organizations, including Indigenous women’s organizations, no matter their location or tribal affiliation.
ONWA looks forward to ongoing engagement with the federal government on their budgetary commitments. ONWA is encouraged by the progress made to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) and the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls’ Calls for Justice. We also know that the federal government’s commitment to advancing reconciliation and ending gender-based violence aligns with ONWA’s key priorities. Despite hardships during COVID-19, we look forward to continuing to come together to meet the needs of Indigenous women across Ontario and Canada.
For more information:
Andre Morriseau, Communications Manager, Ontario Native Women’s Association (ONWA)