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ONWA Honours Indigenous Women’s Right to Safety on Human Rights Day

Thunder Bay, ON - Today, the Ontario Native Women’s Association (ONWA) recognizes the United Nation’s Human Rights Day. This day is observed every year on December 10th — the day the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) was adopted in 1948.

ONWA maintains that Indigenous women have the right to life and the right to be safe, which Article 3 of the UDHR affirms: “You have the right to live, and to live in freedom and safety.” However, through supporting and working alongside Indigenous women for 50 years, ONWA knows that many of our sisters are not safe in their every day lives. Consider, for example, the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls crisis; a direct result of this lack of safety.

“Basic human rights like safety, are often taken for granted against a backdrop of forgotten, hollow platitudes. Indigenous women and girls in Canada continue to endure a harsh daily struggle, in search of the safety they should not have to demand. All levels of government need to support a strategy of safety planning for Indigenous women to end this ongoing injustice.” – Cora McGuire-Cyrette, Executive Director ONWA

ONWA’s report, Reconciliation with Indigenous Women, was written with 13 recommendations focusing on improving Indigenous women’s safety to end the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls crisis. The report’s first recommendation is: The Safety of Indigenous Women Must be at the Centre of the National Action Plan.

Safety for Indigenous women looks like:

  1. Safe Public Spaces – Indigenous women and girls can access any public service or program and receive culturally appropriate services by culturally-aware and respectful people.

  2. Safe Homes – Homes are violence free.

  3. Safe Families – The legacy of colonization is addressed, and violence becomes nonexistent in our familial relationships.

  4. Safe Indigenous Identity – Indigenous women (regardless of status) are recognized in all appropriate legislation, policies, and communities.

  5. Safe Communities – Indigenous women and girls can walk down the street and not be solicited, harassed, sexually assaulted, trafficked, or propositioned.

  6. Safe Relationships – Indigenous women and girls do not have to navigate any type of violence in their relationships. Indigenous women are able to role model what safe relationships look like.

Today, on United Nations Human Rights Day, and everyday, we must recognize that Indigenous women are the experts of their own lives and know what is needed to address the issues. Any work moving forward with the National Action Plan needs to honour and center Indigenous women’s expertise and leadership in the family, community and internationally for generations to come.

For more information:

Andre Morriseau, Communications Manager

Ontario Native Women’s Association (ONWA)


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