A Statement by the Minister of State (Status of Women)

    OTTAWA, June 19 /CNW Telbec/ - The following is the text of a statement
by the Honourable Helena Guergis, Minister of State (Status of Women), on the
occasion of National Aboriginal Day - Share in the Celebration! June 21, 2009:

        On June 21, Canadians from coast to coast to coast will Share in the
        Celebration in countless National Aboriginal Day events, held around
        the country. It is indeed fitting that our First Peoples - Inuit,
        Métis and First Nations people in all regions - come first in the 11
        days of Celebrate Canada!

        As Minister of State (Status of Women), on this National Aboriginal
        Day, I encourage Canadians to honour and celebrate the outstanding
        contributions of Aboriginal women, who have strengthened and enriched
        their communities and our country.

        I also urge Canadians to reflect on the challenges still facing
        Aboriginal women as they journey toward equality and the opportunity
        to fully participate in society - because the reality is that
        Aboriginal women still face disproportionate levels of violence,
        abuse and discrimination.

        Our Government makes it a priority to address violence against all
        women, in particular Aboriginal women, who experience both a higher
        rate and more serious forms of violence than non-Aboriginal women.
        For example, we are working to address the complex web of issues
        related to the disappearance and murder of many Aboriginal girls and
        women in Canada by providing support to the Native Women's
        Association of Canada for the Sisters in Spirit initiative, a
        collaborative, multi-departmental endeavour.

        Our Government is collaborating with other levels of government and
        sharing best practices for improving the lives of Aboriginal girls
        and women living on and off reserve. Police forces across Canada are
        pooling their resources and expertise to bring about an end to the
        scourge of domestic, sexual and racial violence that has damaged the
        lives of so many Aboriginal women and weakened the fabric of Canadian
        society as a whole. Their goals include improved investigation and
        response models and services.

        For example, a federal-provincial/territorial working group of senior
        criminal justice officials is currently reviewing criminal justice
        system responses to cases involving serial killers who target
        vulnerable women.

        Our Government has actively supported Bill C-8, the proposed Family
        Homes on Reserves and Matrimonial Interests or Rights Act. This
        legislation would provide First Nations with the ability to create
        their own future legislation while protecting women and children
        during the breakup of a marriage.

        The time is now to ensure Aboriginal women have the same rights and
        protections as all Canadian women. The Government of Prime Minister
        Stephen Harper is working hard to make that a reality in the day-to-
        day life of each and every First Nation, Inuit and Métis woman and
        girl in this great country.

        As we share in the joy and celebration of National Aboriginal Day,
        let us renew our commitment to Aboriginal women and their full
        equality. To all people in Canada, please accept my best wishes for a
        happy National Aboriginal Day.

For further information:

For further information: Sherine Mansour, Director of Communications,
Office of the Minister of State (Status of Women), (819) 956-4222

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