Working Together to Improve Opportunities and Outcomes for Aboriginal Peoples Across Canada

May 13 2015

YELLOWKNIFE (May 12, 2015) – The Aboriginal Affairs Working Group (AAWG), composed of provincial and territorial Ministers of Aboriginal Affairs and National Aboriginal Organization (NAO) Leaders, met in Yellowknife today to review progress and explore future opportunities to be advanced in the priority areas of education, economic development, housing, ending violence against Aboriginal women and girls, disaster mitigation and emergency management in Aboriginal communities.

Ministers and NAO Leaders discussed the outcomes of the first National Roundtable on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls held in Ottawa on February 27, 2015. Ministers and NAO Leaders called on the federal government to join in the development, implementation and funding of a prevention and awareness campaign aimed at ending violence against Aboriginal women and girls.  Delivering this campaign was a key outcome from the National Roundtable. Manitoba will also host in fall 2015 an inaugural meeting for law enforcement, prosecutors, and victim services, to explore best practices and better coordinate and share information on policing and justice responses to these cases. Ministers and NAO Leaders continued to support the NAO Leaders’ call on the federal government to hold a National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women and Girls.

Acknowledging that Aboriginal women continue to face barriers to gender equality, education and employability, Ministers and NAO Leaders discussed and directed continued development of a Socio-Economic Action Plan for Aboriginal Women.

Ministers and NAO Leaders also discussed the disproportionate number of Aboriginal children in care. The AAWG recognizes the important work being done by the working group on Aboriginal children in care and acknowledged the need for all governments to work in collaboration with Aboriginal peoples and communities to address the overrepresentation of Aboriginal children in care across the country.

Ministers and NAO Leaders endorsed continued co-operation to advance activities supporting First Nations (regardless of status or residency), Inuit and Métis communities, and renewed the invitation to the federal government to be a formal partner with AAWG to take action in building safe, vibrant and healthy communities and addressing socio-economic gaps. Ministers and NAO leaders noted the upcoming federal election presents an opportunity for all Canadians to engage candidates on key issues facing Aboriginal peoples.

The discussion and recommendations from today’s meeting will be shared with Premiers during the next meeting of Premiers and NAO Leaders on July 14-15, 2015, in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Newfoundland and Labrador.

Ministers and NAO Leaders agreed to meet again in Early 2016 to review progress on these activities.

For more information, please see the Backgrounder.

Contact:                  

Roya Grinsted
Communications Officer
Office of the Premier/Cabinet
Government of the Northwest Territories
Phone: (867) 669-2308
Email: Roya_Grinsted@gov.nt.ca

Quotes:

“NWAC is pleased to see that critical issues such as violence, education, housing, economic development, disaster mitigation and Aboriginal children in care are being addressed by the Aboriginal Affairs Working Group (AAWG).  Continued efforts and collaboration between all levels of government –Federal/Provincial/Territorial (F/P/T) and National Aboriginal Organizations (NAOs) — is urgently needed to address the high number of missing and murdered Aboriginal women and for them to achieve equality with that of their Canadian counterparts.  The issue of violence against Aboriginal women is so complex that we need a comprehensive strategic approach and not the piecemeal band-aid solutions of the past if we are to address the grave violation of the basic human rights of aboriginal women and girls.”

Native Women’s Association of Canada, Interim President, Dr. Dawn Harvard

“The AAWG provides an ongoing intergovernmental forum for addressing issues of critical importance to Aboriginal peoples. It is important for us to keep applying ourselves to the task at hand and to create a collaborative environment that will lead to tangible results. I am pleased with progress on economic development and education and look forward to tackling issues related to improving the child welfare system and violence against children and women.”

Métis National Council Vice-President, David Chartrand

“It is imperative for us to work with the Provinces and Territories to ensure that the Metis people within the homeland are a part of solutions moving forward and that a Metis specific process will ensure the success of the collaborative initiatives. The AAWG gives us the opportunity to move forward with that focus.”

Women of the Métis Nation President, Melanie Omeniho

“The social and economic costs of maintaining the status quo costs First Nations and all Canadians, with First Nations children paying the highest price.  We can and must do better.  The focus must be on outcomes.  I told the Ministers of Aboriginal Affairs and Premiers in attendance that we need to reframe the work to create results for our peoples.  New investments and action are needed to close the gap in the quality of life between First Nations and other Canadians – to support Indigenous languages, to have access to adequate housing, to prevent violence against women and girls and to keep our children in safe and supportive homes and out of the child welfare system.  We agreed here that closing the gap is a priority for all of us and I look forward to the hard work of making that a reality.”

Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde

“On behalf of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami and our Board of Directors, I would like to acknowledge the ongoing work and commitment of the AAWG to advancing the rights of and opportunities for Indigenous people in Canada.  I was pleased to provide remarks about the importance of appropriate and accessible education for our Inuit communities. I was also proud to update the AAWG on the progress of ITK’s Amaujaq National Centre for Inuit Education’s strategy ‘First Canadians, Canadians First’ working to get Inuit children to school every day, on time, well-rested and ready to learn”

Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami President, Terry Audla

“In the Northwest Territories our experience is that we are stronger and more successful when we work together as partners. This has been at the foundation of our commitment to engage with Aboriginal governments and organizations in the spirit of respect, recognition and responsibility. As the Chair of the Aboriginal Affairs Working Group, I am encouraged by the progress we have made and the commitment of all provinces, territories and National Aboriginal Organizations to engage in collaborative and respectful dialogue. The Aboriginal Affairs Working Group will continue to work in partnership to develop solutions and build on successes that help to  improve the well-being of Aboriginal peoples across Canada.”

Honorable Bob McLeod, Premier and Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Intergovernmental Relations, Northwest Territories

“The Aboriginal Affairs Working Group continues to be a productive and constructive venue for dialogue and I greatly appreciate the collaboration and leadership shown by the provinces and territories, as well as from the other National Aboriginal Organizations over the past six years. There is much work ahead for all of us in addressing Canada’s greatest injustice, the denial of the rights of Aboriginal Peoples. Working together, we can make a difference.”

National Chief Betty Ann Lavallee, Congress of Aboriginal Peoples