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‘We’re in crisis mode’: the Native Women’s Association of Canada’s constant work towards reconciliation

Native Women’s Association of Canada’s president says reconciliation is year-round work
Carolyn Bennett (centre right), Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations poses for a photograph with members of the Native Women’s Association of Canada. (File photo/THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Chartrand)

With National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on the horizon, the president of the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) is making it clear that the work stretches beyond one day.

“NWAC does this work daily on truth and reconciliation. To me, that’s what we’re all about,” said NWAC president Carol McBride.

“We’re advocating for our women and our families and working always towards reconciliation of the things that have been done to our Indigenous people.”

McBride says National Day for Truth and Reconciliation should be a time to reflect on the history of Indigenous peoples, what they have gone through and their resilience; however, the work must not stop there.

“We’ve been through hell and back, and we’re still here, and we’re still willing,” she said.

“We have the truths, and now it’s time to reconcile, but that in itself is taking a long time.”

NWAC leads several initiatives on various issues, including health, human rights, international affairs, violence prevention and safety, environment and early learning childcare. Work done by NWAC aims to represent the political voice of Indigenous women, girls and gender-diverse people in Canada.

One of their most recent campaigns, “Change the Bill,” aims to get an Indigenous woman on the $20 bill.

The group also holds workshops and other events. On Oct. 4, NWAC hosts its Sisters in Spirit Vigil to honour of the lives of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls and gender-diverse people.

To commemorate National Truth and Reconciliation Day, the organization hopes to raise $25,000 to fund programs to support Indigenous peoples nation-wide.

“The federal government has completed 13 out of 94 of the (Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s) calls to action. And at this rate, it will take (roughly) 42 years, until 2065, to complete the call to action,” McBride said.

“We’re in crisis mode.”

For non-Indigenous individuals wanting to get involved in the reconciliation process, McBride recommends going into Indigenous spaces and being there for the community in both good and bad times.

“Just come in. Come and celebrate our history and our culture with us and be open-minded and open-hearted to the truths of our indigenous history,” she said.

“There’s so much we can do together.”

This article is part of a series on Truth and Reconciliation in recognition of Orange Shirt Day on Sept. 30. Check back for more Truth and Reconciliation stories on our website daily until Sept. 30.

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