Caroline Cochrane: Native Women's Association AGA Luncheon

Delivered on February 8, 2018

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Good afternoon, Board members, staff and members of the Native Women’s Association of the Northwest Territories.

It’s good to be here. I had the pleasure of meeting many of you at the Christmas supper.

As a Métis woman, I want to share how deeply I appreciate all of the work you do on behalf of Indigenous women across the NWT.

That includes the good work you do to ensure that Indigenous women have opportunities to meaningfully participate in our economy.

I am happy to see that representatives from the mining industry were here to discuss how they are supporting Indigenous women in non-traditional sectors.

Mineral exploration is not the only way to grow our economy, but it is an area where women can be more involved.

I recently attended the annual Association for Mineral Exploration Roundup in Vancouver.  

The GNWT and Indigenous government delegation worked collaboratively at Roundup to demonstrate our support for mineral development in the NWT.

I look forward to working with my GNWT colleagues, with Indigenous governments, and with mining companies, to ensure that women have more opportunities to benefit from mineral development in the future.

As the Minister Responsible for the Status of Women, I work with my Federal, Provincial and Territorial counterparts, focussing on common issues that impact Indigenous and non-Indigenous women across our country.

Issues such as the dignity and value of Indigenous women and of all women; violence against women; cross-border issues such as human trafficking; economic power, and, of course — leadership.

This list is just a small sample of the areas where work needs to be done.

We especially need to work together so Indigenous women and girls are seen and valued in our society and never become targets for violence in their homes and communities.

I appreciate the leading role the Native Women’s Association took to support the Community Hearings for the National Inquiry for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women that were held in Yellowknife two weeks ago.

The unveiling of the Beaded Heart Project was a great way to show support to family members as they participated in the Inquiry.

When the family members think about the Beaded Heart, I hope they remember that they are supported throughout the Northwest Territories, and know that their truths have been heard.

I was also happy to attend the Métis Cultural evening event held during the Hearings.

Thank you for organizing not just one evening event, but three. Events like these allow us to share our culture in ways that help others to understand who we are as Indigenous women.

More importantly, they provided a sense of comfort, and of pride, during what was, for many, a difficult journey.

The Community Hearings are one step in the National Inquiry for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. The next steps are the Expert Panels and Institutional Hearings.

We will remain engaged throughout this process and continue to support the work of the Commission.

I take comfort knowing that the Native Women’s Association will play an active role as the National Inquiry moves forward, and will continue to be a voice for all Indigenous women and girls.

I also want to talk to you about the future. As the Minister Responsible for the Status of Women, I already count on you to help move key projects forward.

But I see even greater opportunities for us to work together. How we do this will be a focus of mine in the coming year.

When I look around this room, I see leaders. I see strong women that our territory depends upon each and every day.

A key priority for me is to make sure that our capable and dedicated women have equal opportunities to participate in public life.

There are over 50 vacancies on Public Boards right now.

 

Public boards play an important role in our northern society, from providing advice to government to managing public programs—and we need to make sure our voices are heard on those Boards.

I believe the Native Women’s Association can play a role in encouraging women to apply for these board positions.

I am also hopeful that some of you will have the desire to take larger steps and think about running for other elected offices in the Northwest Territories.

To support women considering running for elected office, the Women’s Advisory Office is organizing two campaign schools for interested women.

The dates are March 3 & 4th in Fort Simpson and March 10 & 11 here in Yellowknife.

Mark your calendars!  I really hope to see some of you there.

Finally, thank you for inviting me to speak with you today. And again, thank you for everything you do for Indigenous women, each and every day.

Masi cho, merci, thank you.