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Empowering Indigenous Women Now and in the Future

Archived News Release

Empowering Indigenous Women Now and in the Future

The Fifth National Indigenous Women’s Summit

Ministry of Indigenous Affairs

On International Women's Day, National Indigenous leaders, federal, provincial and territorial Ministers of Indigenous Relations and Status of Women, senior officials and Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne met with delegates for the fifth National Indigenous Women's Summit.

Held in Toronto, the summit brought together approximately 300 delegates from across Canada including First Nation, Métis, Inuit women, youth, Elders and grassroots community representatives to discuss issues related to "empowering Indigenous women now and in the future."

Over the course of two days, delegates joined in discussions, heard several keynote speakers and participated in workshops. Delegates presented priority areas of action and highlighted the importance of implementation and accountability.

The themes of the summit included:

  • Empowering women through life transitions
  • Access to opportunity (employment, education, training, entrepreneurship)
  • A culturally responsive, gender-based implementation of United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action 

Quick Facts

  • The summit was hosted by the province of Ontario, with coordination support from the Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres.
  • Ministers from Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Alberta, Newfoundland and Labrador and Canada attended the summit.
  • National Indigenous leaders attended the summit from the following groups:
    • Assembly of First Nations
    • Native Women's Association of Canada
    • Les Femmes Michif Otipemisiwak / Métis Nation
    • Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada / Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami
    • Congress of Aboriginal Peoples


“The ability of Indigenous women to determine and develop our own priorities in the areas of health, education, climate change, gender equality, and safety is vital to the success of reconciliation. In order to create positive and sustainable change, we need to draft ideas for programs tailored to our distinct needs and strategies for implementation. The National Indigenous Women’s Summit creates a safe space where Indigenous women can address the issues that affect our lives from our perspective. The legacy we provide our future leaders will be formed in the conversations that take place at this summit and those to come.”

Francyne D. Joe

Interim President, Native Women’s Association of Canada

“Métis women have participated in an engaging process to identify actions and recommendations that they would like to see us collectively move forward. We collaborated with other Indigenous women over the past two days and are looking forward to presenting the results of their consultation to all governments. They are particularly committed to ensuring that their voice is at the decision making tables that impact them.”

Melanie Omeniho

President Les Femmes Michif Otipemisiwak

“The Assembly of First Nations (AFN) and AFN Women’s Council wishes to congratulate the organizers and participants of the 2017 National Indigenous Women’s Summit (NIWS). NIWS brought together a diverse group of Indigenous women to discuss issues affecting Indigenous women including empowering women throughout the life transitions, access to opportunity, and culturally responsive and gender-based implementation of the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action. NIWS promotes empowerment of Indigenous women and encourages them to strive for change and better outcomes for all women and girls. Together, we are taking action, creating change and giving hope for a brighter future for Indigenous women and girls.”

Denise Stonefish

Deputy Grand Chief, Association of Iroquois and Allied Indians and Assembly of First Nations Council of Women's Chair

“We have appreciated this opportunity to work together as Inuit women from across Canada at the fifth National Indigenous Women's Summit. Too often we are excluded or forgotten in the use of the word 'indigenous.' Developing an Inuit gender based implementation and accountability mechanism will give us specific tools to set our priorities, and work with government partners to reach our shared goals.”

Meeka Otway

Secretary Treasurer, Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada

“Indigenous women have always played lead roles in our societies and the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples hopes the National Indigenous Women’s Summit empowers women to maintain or regain those leadership roles while ensuring they have the support and opportunities to thrive.”

Robert Bertrand

National Chief, Congress of Aboriginal Peoples

“On International Women's Day we celebrate the contributions of those who paved the way forward for others. This year's theme 'Be Bold for Change' describes the vision and invaluable leadership of Indigenous women in Canada. The impact of Indigenous women's voices is one of the most important indicators of decolonization and Reconciliation. Today's meeting sets us on a good path.”

Carolyn Bennett

Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada

“Indigenous women and girls have a strong and powerful role in our communities. We must provide the supports and resources they need to succeed. Our meetings this week are just one way we are taking a collective stand to improve the lives of Indigenous women and girls in Ontario and across Canada. Through actions like this, all Indigenous women and girls can look ahead to a bright and prosperous future, making contributions that will benefit their communities and Canada as a whole.”

Kathleen Wynne

Premier of Ontario

“Ontario is proud to host the fifth National Indigenous Women’s Summit. By bringing together Indigenous women leaders from across the country, this summit has facilitated an important dialogue on empowering Indigenous women now and into the future. These conversations pave the way for real change and are an important part of Ontario’s journey of healing and reconciliation with Indigenous peoples.”

David Zimmer

Ontario Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation

“This summit was an important opportunity to hear from First Nations, Métis and Inuit women from across Canada about their vision for an empowered future. Our government is committed to being at the forefront of these discussions in partnership with Indigenous communities and other jurisdictions.”

Indira Naidoo-Harris

Ontario Minister of the Status of Women

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