Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sisters in Spirit update

Last week APTN News reported that not only does the Cons new missing persons initiative entirely bypass Sisters In Spirit, the very group which initiated five years of research into the nearly 600 missing and murdered FN women and girls in the first place, but SIS can no longer use the SIS name or continue their research when applying for grants.

Status of Women Minister Rona Ambrose invoked support from the Sisters' parent organization, Native Women's Association of Canada, to blow off criticism in the House :

"Most important, we are working with and have the support of NWAC " ... and

"In fact, we have been working with NWAC for the last couple of years in order to implement these concrete actions."

APTN News : NWAC kept out of the loop on missing women's announcement (italics mine)

Native Women’s Association of Canada president Jeannette Corbiere Lavell said she was only informed by the government the day before Status of Women Minister Rona Ambrose stood in the Vancouver police department to say her government was following through on their $10 million commitment.

Lavell said the Conservative government did not consult with NWAC staff or those involved with the organization’s groundbreaking Sisters in Spirit project in the lead-up to the announcement.

"NWAC was originally led to believe that it would be invited to join in a discussion with the Department of Justice…about the allocation of the $10 million ," said Corbiere Lavell. "This did not occur."

Lavell further notes that the new initiative "reinvents" the work already done by SIS [at a new RCMP centre that will use up half the money], folds their research on murdered FN women into a general pot of violence against all Canadians, and excludes provinces east of Manitoba from access to funding.

She also confirmed Status of Women's embargo on the SIS name and continued research.

So why did Lavell stand with Ambrose on that podium in Vancouver last week and imply NWAC's endorsement?

Because, explains Lavell, they need the money and Aboriginal women have been waiting for it. They have to comply with the new SIS-squashing rules so they can access funds to continue related work.

Nice. Someone better call Ambrose on her bullshit in the House next week. We're watching.
As Cathie from Canada put it : "Trying to make it disappear just like all those women have disappeared."
And as for Canada's conditional endorsement of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples this week : See Pam Palmater at Non-Status Indians.


Lady Tragic said...

There has been and IS an ongoing crisis regarding violence against First Nations women and an inordinate number of unsolved murders and disappearances. Yes, FN women DO need a special voice to speak for them because if our current government has anything to say about it--they WILL just make it disappear like all of those poor women. This is wrong on so many levels. First nation has the right to a unique voice, especially in matters like this. Anything less is unconscionable and downright criminal on the part of our 'honourable' representatives.

Anonymous said...

This is the another example of oppression towards First Nations people. To say that after five years of work this group has nothing further to offer or can't play a role in the new initiatives is nothing short of ridiculous. No one knows this story, this tragedy better than the people who first fought to have that story told.

Pam Palmater said...

Thanks for the link! Pam (aka Non Status Indian)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the link to Pam's blog, why isn't it on PG?

A disgrace!

Beijing York said...

Let's hope this doesn't get buried.

Niles said...

So, NWAC is being treated just like the rest of the women's programs touched by federal CONtrol. Extorted fiscally to shut the fukk up and 'keep sweet' or they'll be the next to feel the funding fist.

It's Sophist's Choice. Let someone get pushed off a cliff to keep at least *some* help going for those left unattacked -- at present.

One by one the voices go out, with Harper's people reporting that nobody minded, well - nobody important, so it wasn't really all that necessary, was it?

After all, Harper's people need to help mothers and children...not women.