Aboriginal Women: A Valuable Asset to the Canadian Labour Market

Monday, July 26 2010

OTTAWA, September 27, 2005 - The Native Women's Association of Canada (NWAC) views the recent Senate appointments of Sandra Lovelace and Lillian Dyck as "recognition" of the valuable assets that Aboriginal women bring to Canadian society. President Beverley Jacobs states that "The hard fight that Sandra Lovelace and other Aboriginal women fought before the eyes of Canada and the world has paid off. Aboriginal women, like Sandra Lovelace and Lillian Dyck, are invaluable sources of strength in today's society."

Sandra Lovelace's case, which brought international attention to Canada's violation of human rights against First Nations women, was about Aboriginal women's unity as much as it was about equality for Aboriginal women.

President Beverley Jacobs hopes the upcoming joint signing of an Accord between herself and the Minister of Human Resources Development Claudette Bradshaw to be held at the NWAC national office in Ottawa on Wednesday, September 28, 2005 will resonant that same tone of recognition given to Sandra Lovelace – that Aboriginal women are being viewed as a valuable asset, at this time, to the Canadian Labour Market.

NWAC's last official signing with Human Resources Development Canada (HRDC) was back in 1999 under an agreement known as the Aboriginal Human Resources Development Agreements (AHRDAs). Approximately 79 Aboriginal organizations or groups signed the five-year agreements (April 1999 to March 2004). These particular agreements were designed so groups and organizations could implement and control their own human resource programs and services. The end result was to improve employment opportunities and self-reliance for Aboriginal people across Canada.

NWAC has advocated for years that the current approaches to address the underemployment of Aboriginal women in Canada are insufficient. The fact is that "majority of First Nations people living on or off-reserve are predominantly single parent families living in extreme rates of poverty". (RCAP)

NWAC believes there is a need to invest in an Aboriginal women's labour force with the direct input and development by Aboriginal women's. "We have heard it so many times and for such a long time that Aboriginal women have not been able to access their fair share of adequate employment and training dollars.

The 'key ingredient' to the success of this new Accord with the Ministry of Labour explains Jacobs, "is meaningful involvement to facilitate a broader focus of Aboriginal women participation. These women want to enter the labour pool through every open doorway and not be limited to Aboriginal labour markets--truth is they live in every urban setting and the effects of their presence could be felt by the broader labour market."

NWAC is very confident those improving Aboriginal women's employment opportunities both on/off reserve will contribute to the Canadian economy since according to Statistics Canada -- Aboriginal female youth are the fastest growing population in the country. Recent statistics compiled by NWAC shows more women are returning to school after having children and the majority of those are single parents, between the ages of 18 and 30 years old. This particular accord on human resource development is specifically designed to improve employment opportunities for Aboriginal women off-reserve. "Aboriginal women face discrimination on a daily basis and the intent of the program is to provide Aboriginal women with direct access to service delivery who may not feel comfortable accessing it elsewhere," says Jacobs.

"We appreciate that the federal government is taking a leadership role to collaborate with NWAC. We firmly believe that provincial, territorial and the private/public sector must also take responsibility and cooperate with us in this holistic approach," says President Jacobs.

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