AFN Women’s Council

Annual Report 2016

The Women’s Council works with the AFN Secretariat to ensure that the concerns and perspectives of First Nations women inform the work of the AFN. Council members hold portfolio responsibilities and participate in a wide range of panels, presentations and forums that are relevant to First Nations women.

Key Issues and Activities

The Council has been engaged in various meetings and activities that address matters of concern to First Nations women and their families. The Council Chair and co-Chair have actively participated on the Executive Committee to provide the perspective of First Nations women and to keep the Council apprised of Executive activities and discussions. The AFN Executive appointed Regional Chief Shane Gottfriedson as the portfolio holder for the Women’s Council and issues related to the safety and security of Indigenous women and girls. The leadership of the Regional Chief and Women’s Council has provided for increased awareness and communications across many issues.

The Council has been engaged in a number of other activities including the Chiefs Committee on health, fisheries, climate action, energy, public safety and policing forums and intergovernmental dialogue. Over the past year, the Women’s Council established a revised terms of reference, elections procedures and identified the need of an updated strategic plan.

With the election of a new federal government, there have been a number of commitments that impact the lives of Indigenous women, including the agreement on a National Inquiry on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG), developing a gender violence strategy, increasing the number of shelters and transition houses, and ensuring increased gender-based analysis within government.

The Council provided leadership and engagement in the pre-inquiry activities for the National Inquiry on MMIWG. Council members participated in regional Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada led pre-inquiry meetings. In addition, the AFN held a national one-day forum in Edmonton, Alberta in February 2016, bringing together families, community and leadership to provide input through the AFN to the National Inquiry.

The Council participated in the 2nd National Roundtable on MMIWG and the Gathering of Families of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women in February 2016. This event was an opportunity for families to come together in a respectful and private setting. Families and their support persons shared experiences and prepared for the National Roundtable on MMIWG. Indigenous families and leaders, representatives from all 13 provinces and territories and federal Ministers took part in the Roundtable. There was ongoing commitment to coordinated action in priority areas, including prevention and awareness. Another significant outcome included the commitment of federal government participation at a new forum that would replace the Aboriginal Affairs Working Group (Council of Federation), with the intent of ensuring implementation of other actions that can occur at the same time as the inquiry.  

Despite the Council’s limited capacity to participate fully, due to lack of sustainable funding, there is ongoing engagement to the extent possible and the AFN is seeking opportunities for increased resources.

Next Steps – Moving Forward

  • Establish portfolio holders for AFN issues.
  • Participate in the next steps on the outcomes of the 2nd National Roundtable on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.
  • Review the terms of reference for the National Inquiry on MMIWG and review any AFN participation.
    • Continue to engage with the Youth and Elders Councils to continue to implement Resolution 02/2012 as well as the Tri-Council Strategic Plan.
    • Seek resources to ensure full engagement of the Women’s Council on all issues.

Assembly of First Nations