Updated: Apr 21
ONWA is attending the 2023 United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII)!
Indigenous Women: Stronger Together
Indigenous women from around the world are gathered in New York for the 22nd Session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII). The Ontario Native Women’s Association (ONWA) is proud to be attending to continue to amplify the voices of Indigenous women internationally.
Highlights from the 2023 UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues
April 17 - 22
ONWA's Mother Earth Strategy
Ontario Native Women’s Association (ONWA) is committed to developing an internal and external Mother Earth (ME) strategy that reflects Indigenous women’s responsibilities, traditional ecological knowledge, and practices. The strategy will be developed with feedback from ONWA's membership and Indigenous women and girls across Ontario, and through engagement with national and international water and land protectors. The ME strategy will guide ONWA in the protection of the natural environment through ceremony, knowledge mobilization, and traditional practices. ONWA will strive to become a Centre of Excellence in the work to protect the environment and address climate change, acknowledging the leadership of all Indigenous women land- and water-protectors who have been at the forefront of action in protecting Mother Earth.
Recommendation 1 - Nation-to-Nation-PLUS Approach
Mr. Dario Mejía Montalvo, Chair of the 22nd session of the UNPFII, speaks at the opening ceremony of the struggles and strengths of Indigenous women. He noted it is common to hear “leave no one behind” in international forums, but focus should be on not leaving anyone outside of decision making. He also noted that without plans for States to implement Indigenous peoples rights, it’s just another path to paint colonization by another colour.
ONWA leadership – staff, board members, youth council, and Grandmothers - are proud to be attending the UNPFII to continue to amplify the voices of Indigenous women internationally.
ONWA’s membership consists of 13 Chapters and 21 councils , representative of ONWA’s four regional directions – North, South, East, West – throughout the province.
“Indigenous women continue to sustain our families and communities through the re-claiming of our leadership and breaking of cycles. The Permanent Forum is a collective bridge to addressing the violence and systemic injustice we face as Indigenous women.” - Cora McGuire-Cyrette, ONWA Executive Director
Queen Mother Delois Blakely - American former nun, religious leader, pan-Africanist, writer, activist, humanitarian, being gifted a copper pail necklace by Meena Deol, ONWA Senior Strategy Implementation & Intergovernmental Operational Advisor
The copper pail necklace honours the sacred relationship with water. The copper cup symbolizes the importance of clean water and how we all have a responsibility to protect and care for this precious element. In wearing the necklace, you have the opportunity to nourish yourself and others as water carriers. An Elder shared that this sacred item is a reminder to always speak in a mindful way; to be positive in your being, to speak truth and honesty, and to be impeccable with your word.
Recommendation 2 - Core Sustainable Funding
ONWA supports Indigenous women’s rights: to have their own agencies; to be engaged on issues that impact them; to reclaim their leadership.
Indigenous women from around the world are gathered in New York for UNPFII to discuss Indigenous issues related to economic and social development, culture, the environment, education, health, and human rights.
We are stronger together. Traditionally, Indigenous women gather to discuss challenges and solutions. Dedicated spaces for Indigenous women at levels of decision making need to be ensured.
ONWA leadership attending the UNPFII to continue to amplify the voices of Indigenous women internationally.
Recommendation 3 - Indigenous Gender Based Analysis
ONWA is connecting with Assembly of Seven Generations (A7G) at the UNPFII. A7G is an Indigenous youth led & driven grassroots, non-profit organization focused on community support and opportunities for Indigenous youth, based on Unceded Algonquin Territory.
ONWA is at the UNPFII to continue to build Indigenous women’s capacity by listening, learning, and developing relations with Indigenous women around the world.
ONWA stands in unity with women and girls around the world! When Indigenous women come together & are empowered, there is no limit to what can be achieved.
“We are the guardians, we have the knowledge, and we must be heard. Action must be taken.” Lisa Echum, ONWA Board Director
Cora McGuire-Cyrette, ONWA Executive Director, speaks at the United Nations, New York for the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII).
The violence we face is due to two main factors: we are Indigenous, and we are women. Governments must support Indigenous women’s organizations through core funding so that we can provide the safe spaces for Indigenous women, by Indigenous women. We have seen the violence against our Indigenous sisters and non-Indigenous sisters decline as a result of the investment into their safety. We are calling for equal and equitable investments into our safety. As a basic human right, we have a right to live." - Cora McGuire-Cyrette, ONWA Executive Director
The passion and commitment of Indigenous women is key to building a safe, prosperous, and healthy future throughout our communities and the world for generations to come.
At the UNPFII ONWA advocated for the preservation of Indigenous culture and languages. Indigenous languages frame relationships between people and Mother Earth, now and for future generations.
ONWA leadership concludes our participation in UNPFII session about “Indigenous peoples, human health, planetary and territorial health, and climate change: a rights-based approach” with a trip to the "Liberty Enlightening the World" (Statue of Liberty)
Leadership is an ongoing journey that takes willingness to watch, listen and learn from others. ONWA is inspired by all the beautiful voices and strong leadership seen while participating in the UNPFII.