International Women's Day 2007 - Ending Impunity for Violence against First Nations Women and Girls



    OTTAWA, March 8 /CNW Telbec/ - Today marks the 32nd International Women's
Day. This year's United Nations theme is Ending Impunity for Violence against
Women and Girls.
    "This year's theme resonates loudly among First Nations since our women
and children are more likely to be victims of violence than any other segment
in Canadian society," said National Chief Phil Fontaine. "This is a direct
result of the poverty and despair that grips so many of our communities."
    Kathleen McHugh, chair of the Assembly of First Nation's Women's Council,
said that too many First Nations women are daily victims of violence and
racism. "Just this week, there is a national media story about a senior
federal bureaucrat who circulated a racist e-mail denigrating First Nations
women. This sort of behaviour is appalling."
    Last month, the AFN Women's Council hosted an historic First Nations
Women's Leaders Forum. On the final day, women leaders issued a powerful
consensus statement, and together with the National Chief, participated in a
memorial march for the dead and missing Aboriginal women in Vancouver's
Downtown Eastside.
    "At last month's forum, we heard powerful First Nations leaders speak to
the critical role that women have played in the past and continue to play in
preserving, promoting, and restoring the status and well-being of women and
families in our communities," said Ms. McHugh. "In one powerful voice, our
leaders stated 'it is now time to bring our children home and we will work
collectively to ensure that our collective rights and our children's rights
are respected and upheld."
    "We will work to bring our children home as First Nations citizens; home
to our traditional lands and territories; to homes that are safe from mould
and overcrowding; and to communities free from suicide, violence and poverty,"
added Ms. McHugh.
    The AFN Women's Council will present the Women's Forum consensus
statement at the National Aboriginal Women's Summit, to be held this June in
Newfoundland.
    The 2006 federal budget allocated $250 million for strengthening First
Nations women, children and families. Since then, few investments have been
made, such as rushed consultations on the issue of matrimonial property, and a
minimal $6 million investment for family violence.
    "Next week, the AFN will be presenting our Gender Based Analysis
Framework at the 8th Annual Indigenous Women's Symposium at Trent University,"
said National Chief Fontaine "We need a comprehensive plan to address the
social disparities faced by First Nations women and children. Only with such a
plan will we begin to close the poverty gap and address Canada's greatest
social justice issue: First Nations poverty."

    The Assembly of First Nations is the national organization representing
First Nations citizens in Canada.




For further information:

For further information: Bryan Hendry, A/Director of Communications,
(613) 241-6789 ext. 229, cell (613) 293-6106, bhendry@afn.ca; Nancy Pine,
Communications Advisor - Office of the National Chief, (613) 241-6789 ext 243,
(613) 298-6382, npine@afn.ca


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