Equal Voice uOttawa is honoured to have been invited to attend the NDP International Women’s Day Breakfast with Sheila Malcomson (Critic for the Status of Women) and Marjolaine Boutin-Sweet (Whip & Housing Critic). We had the opportunity to listen to the inspirational words of some of Canada’s leading women, including guest speakers Cindy Blackstock (Executive Director, First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada, Associate Professor, University of Alberta and Director of FNCARES) and Melissa Mollen Dupuis (Board President of the Wapikoni and the co-founder of Idle No More Quebec). The event was hosted at the Sir John A MacDonald building in downtown Ottawa this morning.
Sheila Malcolmson and Marjolaine Boutin-Sweet reminded us that today is about celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievement of women – this success extends to their families, their communities, and to all of Canada.
However, we were cautioned that in addition to celebrating, we need to remain aware that in Canada, progress has slowed. Women continue to face high levels of violence and indigenous women are still exponentially more likely to be murdered than non-indigenous women. Poverty rates among single mothers and senior women are on the rise and women still only make $0.77 to every dollar earned by men.
Our hosts urged us to take real steps towards clear goals, supported by funding, to end violence against women, to make shelters available for victims of domestic abuse, and to ensure that women can access safe reproductive healthcare.
A country does not have equality or fairness if they refuse to provide the basic human right of education for children, just because of who they are. About 10 years ago, Cindy Blackstock noticed that the amount of money being spent on reserve child welfare was 22 and 34 per cent lower than off reserve funding. In January a Human Rights Tribunal confirmed that Canada does discriminate against children living on reserve by failing to provide equal child welfare funding.
Cindy Blackstock is an inspirational woman who is positively impacting the lives of many Canadians. Her pursuit of fairness and equality for all children in Canada reminds us that women have the power to make a difference. We not only open (or even kick down!) doors, but we also open them for future generations of female leaders.
Melissa Mollen Dupuis encouraged us all to take further action towards equality. Her work on the front lines of one of the most significant social movements of our time (Idle No More) is a strong example of women’s power as change-makers.
Le 21 décembre 2012, des centaines de manifestants, Québécois et Autochtones, marchent dans les rues de Montréal en scandant le nom du mouvement Idle No More. Aux premières lignes des manifestations se trouvent Widia Larivière et Melissa Mollen Dupuis, instigatrices du mouvement au Québec. Idle No More signifie « fini l’inertie », « fini l’inaction ». Mme Dupuis représentent une nouvelle génération de jeunes Autochtones et femmes qui souhaitent que les Premières Nations aient enfin voix au chapitre.
Her work is paving the way for new generations of Indigenous and women leaders, as well as a more equal Canada.
This event encapsulated the Canadian International Women’s Day theme of women and girls’ empowerment. It demonstrated real-life examples of female leadership, courage, and perseverance. Equal Voice uOttawa will be taking the ideas, anecdotes, and stories we have heard as inspiration on our journey as the new generation of female leaders.
–Danika Leminski, Co-President and VP Communications of Equal Voice uOttawa.