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Great success for a Great Conference! On November 15th and 16th, some170 people participated the QNW conference entitled “Promoting Aboriginal Women’s Traditional Governance” taking place in Montreal. During this gathering, Aboriginal women attended discussions and workshops aimed at reinforcing both their governance and leaderships kills and knowledge. Most appreciated were the remarkable quality of presentations and the time devoted to sharing and reflecting as a group. Without a doubt, this Great conference will bear fruit and have tangible impacts for many communities and Nations.
Indeed in closing the weekend long gathering, participants gave themselves the important mandate of educating members from their respective communities—their elected representatives in particular. This is a challenge considering the Indian Act’s discriminatory effects in communities over the course of the past centuries.
In the hopes of ensuring that women resume their place within First Nations’ governing structures, participants in the Great Conference insisted on the importance of ancestral values and two fundamental principles: equality and respect. In affirming these, the aim was not of course the denigration of men or their roles, but rather to seek to achieve balance in terms of either gender’s contribution to governance.
This search for balance must happen first and foremost through equity, not necessarily parity, in governing structures—though parity, or greater female representation on Councils at least, are indeed valued. At present time, just two communities in Québec have made parity between men and women on council an objective. However, from what could be gathered at this Great Conference, this should be changing over the course of the next few years.
This event was the culmination of a broad reflection around Aboriginal women’s traditional governance. From the month of August onward, a series of regional meetings that gathered QNW members took place, which allowed women to recommend initiatives and lines of thinking that were taken up and discussed during the Great Conference. In total, ten regional consultations were held in nine Aboriginal First Nations and in one urban area in order to enhance the debate on Aboriginal women’s traditional governance.
“From victimization to today’s hopeful leadership, awareness has emerged: model women have proven that change can be effected through commitment without embracing a system that crushes others; we can return to our values of equality and respect. Quebec Native Women is one of these models, because it has succeeded in reviving and sharing the importance of acting for the good of our nations. Every personal journey as a woman – mother, grandmother, activist, elected representative – is a step forward in the advancement of our people.” -Vivianne Michel, President The recommendations that came out of the consultation process and wider-scale reflection are currently being compiled and will be published in the Mocassin Telegram and on QNW’s website at a later date www.faq-qnw.org
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