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No More Stolen Sisters

    August 19, 2019

    October 2019 marks 15 years since Amnesty International released our “Stolen Sisters” report, and much has happened during this time.

    In 2004, our report was ground breaking and helped to shine a light on a little known Canadian human rights crisis, and it promoted solutions identified by the Native Women’s Association of Canada and other Indigenous partners. Years of campaigning led by Indigenous women resulted in government finally calling an inquiry to investigate the scope and scale of violence against Indigenous women, girls, and two-spirit persons, and to identify solutions to end the violence. In June, the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls issued its final report, including 231 Calls for Justice.

    July 03, 2019

    The National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls released its final report on June 3, 2019. The 1,200 page report included 231 Calls for Justice to end the staggering levels of violence experienced by First Nations, Métis, and Inuit women, girls, and two-spirit persons in Canada.

    While the federal government accepted the report’s finding of genocide and committed to developing a National Action Plan to prevent and address the violence, there is no clarity about how this commitment will be turned into concrete, meaningful action.

    June 21, 2019

    Indigenous women, girls, and two-spirit people in Canada experience staggeringly high levels of violence, and for decades, government failed to acknowledge and address this human rights crisis. Indigenous women’s organizations, grassroots activists, violence survivors, and the families and loved ones of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, and two-spirit people long called for a national inquiry to compel government to investigate and take urgent action to end the violence. Amnesty International advocated alongside Indigenous partners in calling for a national inquiry.

    June 14, 2019

    Quebec Native Women was founded in 1974 to fight sex-based discrimination in the Indian Act. Forty-five years later, this discrimination persists. Amnesty International spoke with Quebec Native Women’s Legal and Policy analyst Éloïse Décoste to learn more about steps her organization is taking to end sex-based discrimination in the Indian Act once and for all. Here’s what she had to say.

    TAKE ACTION NOW For people who aren’t familiar with the issue, can you please tell me how the Indian Act discriminates against Indigenous women?

    The Indian Act determines who is consider an Indian in the eyes of the government. Historically, an Indian* would be defined as a man, his wife, and his children. When an Indian woman married a man without Indian status, she lost her own status and could not pass her status on to her children. This was the situation until 1985.

    May 13, 2019
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    May 13, 2019

    Hon. Carolyn Bennett

    Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs

    Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada

    10 rue Wellington

    Gatineau, QC K1A 0H4

    CC: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau; Minister of Justice David Lametti; Minister of International Development and Minister for Women and Gender Equality Maryam Monsef; Minister of Indigenous Services Seamus O’Regan

    RE: Ending Sex Discrimination in the Indian Act

    Dear Minister Bennett,

    April 02, 2019

    On April 3rd, the Downtown Eastside Women's Centre (DEWC) in Vancouver released Red Women Rising: Indigenous Women Survivors in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside, a report based on the lived experience, leadership, and expertise of Indigenous survivors, which “urgently shifts the lens from pathologizing poverty towards amplifying resistance to and healing from all forms of gendered colonial violence.”

    Amnesty International had the privilege of speaking with three of the women involved in producing the report: Carol Martin, Priscillia Tait (Gitxsan/Wetsuweten), and Harsha Walia. Here’s what they shared with us.

    READ THE REPORT

    What motivated you create this report?

    February 26, 2019

    Across Canada and as recently as 2017, Indigenous women report being forcibly or coercively sterilized. Some women were incorrectly told the procedure is reversible. Others were separated from their babies until they consented to a tubal ligation.

    Forced and coerced sterilizations of Indigenous women are a result of systemic bias and discrimination against Indigenous peoples in the provision of public services in Canada, a pattern well known and acknowledged by government. They are an assault on the cultural integrity of societies that have already endured grave human rights violations including forced assimilation.

    Sterilizing women without their free, full, and informed consent is a form of violence and torture. Measures to prevent births within ethnic or racial groups is explicitly prohibited by the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.

    All women have the human right to make decisions around if, when, and how to create a family. All women have a right to live free from violence and discrimination. All women have a right to health.

    February 22, 2019

    Send a message to women in Canada who have been sterilized without consent, expressing your support and solidarity.

     

    Indigenous women in Canada have been sterilized without their free, full, and informed consent, a practice the United Nations has affirmed is a form of torture. Why? Because of systemic bias and deep-rooted discrimination against Indigenous peoples in the provision of public services in Canada, a pattern well known and acknowledged by government. It is possible that other women facing discrimination have also been sterilized without consent.

     

    November 19, 2018

    Alisa Lombard is an associate with Maurice Law, Canada’s first national Indigenous-owned law firm, and the lead on a proposed class action law suit in Saskatchewan brought by two women who claim having been forcibly or coercively sterilized between 2000-2010. Over 60 women have reached out reporting they were sterilized without proper and informed consent, most from Saskatchewan, and also from Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, and Ontario.

    We spoke with Alisa the week the issue of the ongoing practice of forced and coerced sterilizations of Indigenous women and girls in Canada became headline news, prompting calls for urgent action to end this human rights violation and provide justice for the survivors.

    November 13, 2018
    TAKE ACTION to end sterilizations without consent

    Canadian and international media are reporting on the ongoing practice of coerced of forced sterilizations of Indigenous women in Canada. Here’s what you need to know.

    What is forced sterilization and coerced sterilization?

    June 05, 2018

    Ottawa, June 5, 2018 – Amnesty International is alarmed at the government of Canada’s failure to act on a recommendation by the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls’ to establish a national task force to review and reopen cases of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, and two-spirit people.

    At a press conference today responding to recommendations in the Inquiry’s Interim Report and request for an extension, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Carolyn Bennett said it was premature for a national task force to be struck before the National Inquiry’s final report is issued on April 30, 2019.

    March 07, 2018

    It’s March, and like many working parents, I’m making plans for the nine weeks when school is not in session this summer. Last year I naively thought that my child and I could have a chat, I’d book camps, and everything would be set. Oh, how I learned! I am more prepared this year and am in the midst of immense internet research and an intense series of complex negotiations involving myself, my child’s other parent, my child, my employer, organizations I work with (lest I book my vacation during a peak time on the human rights calendar), my family and close friends who live across the country, the parents of my child’s closest friends, my own playmates whom I want to go on camping adventures with, my bank account, and the weather forecaster.

    February 26, 2018

    On behalf of Amnesty International, and all our members across Canada, we want to express our deepest sympathy to the family of Tina Fontaine, to her friends and to her community.

    Everyone who has lost a loved one to violence deserves justice. They deserve answers about what may have put their loved one in harm’s way. They deserve to know that police have done everything in their power to identify those responsible for taking their loved one from them. And they deserve to see the perpetrators brought to account.

    As the Manitoba Justice Inquiry so clearly set out almost 20 years ago, when justice is not achieved, the burden of suffering on families and friends is only increased.

    February 14, 2018

    Every woman and girl has the right to live in safety without threat of violence, intimidation, or harassment.

    Canadian government statistics show that First Nations, Inuit, and Métis women and girls face much higher rates of violence than all other women and girls in Canada. Large gaps in government support for services to First Nations, Inuit, and Métis communities deny Indigenous women and girls supports they need to escape and recover from this violence.

    There are roughly 15 shelters and transition houses serving 53 Inuit communities across the Arctic. Some of these shelters are extremely small and most communities are accessible only by air.

    The federal department of Indigenous and Northern Affairs reports that it provides funding for only 41 shelters to serve the 634 recognized First Nations communities in Canada. According to the National Aboriginal Circle Against Family Violence, as of January 2018 only 38 shelters were operational.They do not provide funding to shelters in Inuit communities.

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