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ONWA at UN EMRIP

Updated: Jul 12

The Ontario Native Women’s Association (ONWA) is attending the 17th session of the United Nations (UN) Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (EMRIP) from July 8-12, 2024, in Geneva, Switzerland.


Highlights

Here are some highlights from our time there (click to jump to section):


 

ONWA Event



Restoring Balance, Reclaiming our Leadership: Indigenous Women and CEDAW General Recommendation 39


2:00-3:00 PM

Monday, July 8, 2024

Room XXVI, Building E, Palais des Nations


Left to right: Francisco Cali Tzay, Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; Roxanne Ruediger, Director of Corporate Services, Ontario Native Women’s Association (ONWA); Crystal Starr Pesim Lewis, Indigenous UN Youth Delegate and BCAFN Representative, Squamish Nation; Dr. Sheryl Lightfoot, Professor of Political Science and Public Policy, University of British Columbia, Chairperson & Member, Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

This event is a safe space for Indigenous women and their organizations to gather and discuss CEDAW General Recommendation 39 on the rights of Indigenous women and girls. Indigenous women are invited to share their experiences, the gaps and challenges, and the opportunities and approaches to hold State parties accountable for their obligations in relation to the rights of Indigenous women and girls.


 

Press Release


Bringing Indigenous Women’s Expertise to the UN



Geneva, Switzerland – The Ontario Native Women’s Association (ONWA) is participating in the 17th Session of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (EMRIP). The session will take place July 8-12, 2024, in Palais des Nations, Geneva.



 

In the News


Coming soon!


 

Why We Are Attending the Conference



Amplify the voices of Indigenous women


🌟 Join us in supporting the United Nations’ Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (EMRIP17) to ensure Indigenous women’s full, effective, meaningful participation and leadership in decision making at all levels.


 


Stand in Solidarity


📚 At ONWA, we're standing in solidarity with our sisters across the globe a the United Nations’ Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (EMRIP17) 📚


As we urge Member States to uphold their obligations and immediately implement and promote UNDRIP and CEDAW General Recommendation 39, in collaboration with Indigenous women and our organizations.


 


Inspire


As the oldest and largest Indigenous women's organization in Canada, ONWA is committed to empowering and supporting Indigenous women and their families. Our participation in the United Nations’ Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (EMRIP17) allows us to amplify Indigenous voices and advocate for change. We're proud to announce that our Youth Council members will be attending, representing the future of Indigenous leadership!


 


“Travelling to Geneva for EMRIP with members of ONWA’s Youth Council makes me proud of the work ONWA continues to do in amplifying the voice of Indigenous women. It is an honour to witness these young confident Indigenous women exercising their inherent leadership.  When we use our voices, we pave a brighter path for those who will walk it after us.” - Roxanne Ruediger, Director of Corporate Services, ONWA 


“The fight for human rights knows no political boundaries. Sharing knowledge and highlighting the work that ONWA does in international circles is an important bridge to a better future for all our children.” - Julia King, Associate Manager, ONWA 


“When I think of the injustices that Indigenous women have faced in Canada since colonization, over 500 years ago, it fuels my passion and determination to make a difference. Being here in Geneva at the EMRIP is that opportunity.” - Paula Whitlow, Southern Region Director, ONWA


 

At the Conference - Day 1

Monday, July 8, 2024


Raising our voices internationally! Madison Wigwas, ONWA Youth Director, and Julia King, ONWA Associate Manager,  making statements at the Indigenous Peoples Caucus at the UN EMRIP17 in Geneva, Switzerland.


 


Opening ceremony kicks off with EMRIP member Ms. Valmaire Toki (New Zealand) being appointed as Chair of the 17th session. 

 

ONWA Youth Directors, Alana Robert and Madison Wigwas, are looking forward to the inspiring days ahead! 


 


“The right to self-determination is a foundational right without which all other rights can not be fully realized. […] any state’s unwillingness to recognise Indigenous people directly enables that state to disregard and actively suppress their right to self-determination.” - Dr. Sheryl Lightfoot, Professor of Political Science and Public Policy, University of British Columbia; Chairperson & Member, Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples 

 

Today ONWA held it’s side event at EMRIP focused on Restoring Balance and Reclaiming our Leadership. Creating a safe space for Indigenous women and their organizations to gather and discuss CEDAW General Recommendation 39 on the rights of Indigenous women and girls.


 

Photo, top (left to right): Alana Robert, Youth Director, ONWA Board of Directors; Krystal Brant, Vice President, ONWA; Shanayah Echum, Youth Director, ONWA Board of Directors. Photo, bottom left (left to right): Krystal Brant, Vice President, ONWA; Shanayah Echum, Youth Director, ONWA Board of Directors; Larry Phillip Fontaine, former National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, Canada 

ONWA's delegation is connecting with Indigenous leaders from around the world. Coming together, we learn from each other how to advocate for Indigenous rights, self-determination, and meaningful change.


 

At the Conference - Day 2

Tuesday, July 9, 2024


LEFT TO RIGHT - PHOTO 1 (left): Shanayah Echum, Youth Director, ONWA Board of Directors. PHOTO 2 (top right): Shanayah Echum, Youth Director, ONWA Board of Directors; Alana Robert, Youth Director, ONWA Board of Directors; Krystal Brant, Vice President, ONWA; Julia King, Associate Manager, ONWA; Paula Whitlow, Southern Region Director, ONWA. PHOTO 3 (bottom right): Alana Robert, Youth Director, ONWA Board of Directors; Paula Whitlow, Southern Region Director, ONWA; Roxanne Ruediger, Director of Corporate Services, ONWA; Krystal Brant, Vice President, ONWA; Shanayah Echum, Youth Director, ONWA Board of Directors; Julia King, Associate Manager, ONWA

“As a young Indigenous woman, I would never expect the amazing opportunities that ONWA provides, such as inviting myself, a ONWA Youth, to Geneva Switzerland to attend the 17th session of EMDRIP. The ongoing the leadership skills, the ongoing support from amazing women at ONWA mentoring us youth representatives by being able to witness and share ONWA’s work with other UN Nations. I am beyond excited, grateful, and most importantly thankful to be attending this session to continue to learn, grow my leadership skills, and to hear the other work that other UN Nations are doing. Meegwetch.” - Shanayah Echum, Youth Director, ONWA Board of Directors 


 

LEFT TO RIGHT – PHOTO 1: Julia King, Associate Manager, ONWA; Alana Robert, Youth Director, ONWA Board of Directors; Valmaire Toki, Chair of the 17th session of UN EMRIP; EMRIP secretary. PHOTOT 2 (bottom right): Julia King, Associate Manager, ONWA; Alana Robert, Youth Director, ONWA Board of Directors; Valmaire Toki, Chair of the 17th session of UN EMRIP.

ONWA accepts a warm embrace from Ms. Valmaire Toki, the appointed Chair of the 17th sessions of the UN EMRIP in Geneva, Switzerland.


 

LEFT TO RIGHT – PHOTO 1 (top left): Alana Robert, Youth Director, ONWA Board of Directors; Paula Whitlow, Southern Region Director, ONWA; Krystal Brant, Vice President, ONWA; Shanayah Echum, Youth Director, ONWA Board of Directors. PHOTO 2 (bottom left): Alana Robert, Youth Director, ONWA Board of Directors; Paula Whitlow, Southern Region Director, ONWA; Krystal Brant, Vice President, ONWA; Shanayah Echum, Youth Director, ONWA Board of Directors; Roxanne Ruediger, Director of Corporate Services, ONWA; Julia King, Associate Manager, ONWA. PHOTO 3 (right): Alana Robert, Youth Director, ONWA Board of Directors

“I am grateful to attend the EMRIP alongside the incredible women at ONWA. Our presence and participation at international forums is part of our journey to reclaim our roles as leaders and matriarchs. I will gain the important tools and knowledge needed to take up my role in creating a safe and healthy future for Indigenous people, and build the future that our ancestors dreamed of.” - Alana Robert, Youth Director, ONWA Board of Directors 


 

Left to right: Roxanne Ruediger, Director of Corporate Services, ONWA; Crystal Lewis, Squamish; Maria Violet Quiscue, Nasa; Oswaldo Rodriguez Macuna, Je’eruriwa

ONWA was pleased to be involved with Incomindios UN EMRIP17 panel event - Bridging Generations Panel: Indigenous Elders, Women, and Youth Leading Social Transformation and Climate Justice.


To learn more about Incomindios, visit: https://www.incomindios.ch/en


 

LEFT TO RIGHT – PHOTO 1 (left): Paula Whitlow, Southern Region Director, ONWA; Krystal Brant, Vice President, ONWA; Shanayah Echum, Youth Director, ONWA Board of Directors; Alana Robert, Youth Director, ONWA Board of Directors. PHOTO 2 (top right): Alana Robert, Youth Director, ONWA Board of Directors; Roxanne Ruediger, Director of Corporate Services, ONWA; Krystal Brant, Vice President, ONWA; Shanayah Echum, Youth Director, ONWA Board of Directors; Julia King, Associate Manager, ONWA. PHOTO 3: Shanayah Echum, Youth Director, ONWA Board of Directors; Roxanne Ruediger, Director of Corporate Services, ONWA; Paula Whitlow, Southern Region Director, ONWA; Alana Robert, Youth Director, ONWA Board of Directors; Krystal Brant, Vice President, ONWA; Julia King, Associate Manager, ONWA

ONWA Board members, Youth Delegates, and staff members are overjoyed to experience the sights and sounds of the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland.



 

At the Conference - Day 3

Wednesday, July 10, 2024


Left to right: Krystal Brant, Vice President, ONWA; Leslie E. Norton, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Canada to the United Nations in Geneva and to the Conference on Disarmament; Shanayah Echum, Youth Director, ONWA Board of Directors

Krystal Brant, ONWA Vice President, spoke at the annual ambassador’s breakfast on violence against Indigenous women, the ongoing human trafficking of Indigenous women and girls and the need for action to ensure Indigenous women’s safety and inherent leadership rights.


 


Madison Wigwas, ONWA Youth Director, had the opportunity to deliver a statement on “Item 10: Future work of the Expert Mechanism, and follow up and advice”, at the 17th session of the United Nations (UN) Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (EMRIP) in Geneva, Switzerland.


"It is our inherent right as life-givers and water and land defenders to speak on our own behalf and represent ourselves, our families, and our future generations. We hold the solutions to the issues we face, yet any UN and state’s policy exclude Indigenous women from decision making." - Madison Wigwas, Youth Director, ONWA Board of Directors 


 


Paula Whitlow, ONWA Director, had the opportunity to deliver a statement at on “Item 9: Enhancing the Participation of Indigenous Peoples in the United Nations”, at the 17th session of the United Nations (UN) Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (EMRIP), in Geneva, Switzerland. 



“We cannot continue to accept the current colonial accreditation approaches that try to silence us and make us invisible in UN spaces.” - Paula Whitlow, Southern Region Director, ONWA 


 

At the Conference - Day 4

Thursday, July 11, 2024


LEFT TO RIGHT – PHOTO 1: Shanayah Echum, Youth Director, ONWA Board of Directors; Alana Robert, Youth Director, ONWA Board of Directors; Madison Wigwas, Youth Director, ONWA Board of Directors; Krystal Brant, Vice President, ONWA; Paula Whitlow, Southern Region Director, ONWA. PHOTO 2: Shanayah Echum, Youth Director, ONWA Board of Directors; Madison Wigwas, Youth Director, ONWA Board of Directors; Krystal Brant, Vice President, ONWA

ONWA delegation is ready for session on “Item 7: International Decade of Indigenous Languages”. ONWA is advocating to restore, reclaim, and revitalize our languages, cultures, and identities for Indigenous women and youth today and for future generations.


 

Left to right: Alana Robert, Youth Director, ONWA Board of Directors Krystal Brant, Vice President, ONWA Dr. Mariam Wallet, Med Aboubakrine, Ărramăt Co-Principal Investigator, UNESCO Co-Chair, Association Tin Hinan President, University of Ottawa Adjunct Professor Madison Wigwas, Youth Director, ONWA Board of Directors Paula Whitlow, Southern Region Director, ONWA Shanayah Echum, Youth Director, ONWA Board of Directors

ONWA's leadership delegation connected with Dr. Mariam Wallet, Med Aboubakrine, Ărramăt Co-Principal Investigator, UNESCO Co-Chair, Association Tin Hinan President, University of Ottawa Adjunct Professor. Networking with local and international organizations is crucial for amplifying Indigenous voices and advocating for meaningful change.


 

Left to right: Julia King, Associate Manager, ONWA; Shanayah Echum, Youth Director, ONWA Board of Directors; Krystal Brant, Vice President, ONWA; Chief Willie Littlechild; Alana Robert, Youth Director, ONWA Board of Directors 

ONWA's leadership delegation connected with Chief Willie Littlechild. These connections foster understanding and promote Indigenous rights globally.

 

 


Alana Robert, ONWA Youth Director, speaking on EMRIP Agenda Item 3: Study and advice on Constitutions, Laws, Legislation, Policies, Judicial Decisions, and other mechanisms through which States have taken measure to achieve the ends of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, in accordance with Article 38 of the Declaration. At the 17th session of the United Nations (UN) Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (EMRIP), in Geneva, Switzerland.


 


Krystal Brant, ONWA Vice President, had the opportunity to deliver a statement at on “Item 11: Proposals to be submitted to the Human Rights Council for its consideration and approval”, at the 17th session of the United Nations (UN) Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (EMRIP) in Geneva, Switzerland. 



“We need action and accountability and to keep Indigenous women safe.” - Krystal Brant, ONWA Vice President 


 

At the Conference - Day 5

Friday, July 12, 2024


Left to right: Alana Robert, Youth Director, ONWA Board of Directors; Paula Whitlow, Southern Region Director, ONWA; Dr. Sheryl Lightfoot, Professor of Political Science and Public Policy, University of British Columbia; Chairperson & Member, Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; Madison Wigwas, Youth Director, ONWA Board of Directors; Krystal Brant, Vice President, ONWA; Shanayah Echum, Youth Director, ONWA Board of Directors

ONWA leadership delegation is pleased to have collaborated with Dr. Sheryl Lightfoot, Professor of Political Science and Public Policy, University of British Columbia; Chairperson & Member, Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Connections allow us to share experiences, knowledge, and solutions, strengthening our collective voice for Indigenous rights. Let's continue to build bridges and support each other's causes! 


 


“I am honoured to have the opportunity to join youth and peoples from around the world to discuss and explore Indigenous human rights as part of ONWA’s Youth Council. I look forward to sharing the work that ONWA is doing to empower Indigenous women.” - Madison Wigwas, Youth Director, ONWA Board of Directors


 


“Travelling to EMRIP with three of our youth has made me aware of how important it is to further Indigenous women’s participation at the international level. Not only are we mentoring these young women on issues like free prior and informed consent, we are actively listening to their opinions and ensuring that the priorities of our future generations are being represented. This is important to me not only as the ONWA Vice President, but as a mother and an Auntie in my community. I am honoured to share these teachings with my community and membership." - Krystal Brant, Vice President, ONWA


 


Shanayah Echum, ONWA Youth Director, delivers a statement at on “Item 7: The International Year of the Decade”, at the 17th session of the United Nations (UN) Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (EMRIP) in Geneva, Switzerland. 


“As an Indigenous youth, I know that our languages are fundamental to our identities, cultures, spirituality, and self-determination, as well as relationships with the land and to the world.” 


 


Krystal Brant, ONWA Vice President, urges the need for action and accountability of member states in regard to “Item 11: Proposals to be Submitted to the Human Rights Council for its Consideration and Approval”, at the 17th session of the United Nations (UN) Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (EMRIP) in Geneva, Switzerland. 


 

LEFT TO RIGHT – PHOTO 1 (left): Krystal Brant, Vice President, ONWA; Shanayah Echum, Youth Director, ONWA Board of Directors; Alana Robert, Youth Director, ONWA Board of Directors; Julia King, Associate Manager, ONWA. PHOTO 2 (right top): Madison Wigwas, Youth Director, ONWA Board of Directors. PHOTO 3 (right middle): Roxanne Ruediger, Director of Corporate Services, ONWA. PHOTO 4 (right bottom): Paula Whitlow, Southern Region Director, ONWA.

From July 8-12, ONWA joined global leaders attending the 17th session of the United Nations Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (EMRIP) in Geneva, Switzerland. It was a privilege and a profound experience that reinforced the importance of amplifying Indigenous voices in global conversations. 

 

Miigwetch / Kinahnaskomihtin / Nakurmīk / Marsee / Niá:wen / Merci / Thank you for following us along on our journey!

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Incredible opportunity for women/girls to share their experiences and know they are not alone in this great assemblance of powerful women. No boundaries, No limitations No barriers.

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