Ontario Native Women’s Association executive director Cora McGuire-Cyrette enjoyed participating along with National Chief RoseAnne Archibald and Women and Gender Equality and Youth Minister Marci Ien at the United Nations 67th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW67). McGuire-Cyrette was selected as a member of the Canadian delegation at CSW67, which was held March 6-17 in New York.
“Some of the highlights for me definitely was being able to join our National Chief RoseAnne Archibald in her press conference that she had coordinated down there,” McGuire-Cyrette says. “She had some strong Indigenous women advocates around looking at MMIWG (Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls) as well as looking at calls to action around ensuring that Indigenous women have space within future CSWs (Commissions on the Status of Women) kind of going forward, so that was one of the highlights showing strong Indigenous women leadership particularly within the forum.”
McGuire-Cyrette says she also participated in Ien’s roundtables at CSW67, one with civil society organizations and another with Indigenous leaders from around the world.
“We were able to talk about the kind of issues we are collectively facing and building that relationship going forward,” McGuire-Cyrette says. “So that was a pretty powerful meeting in collaboration.”
McGuire-Cyrette says she was “truly honoured” to meet and build relationships with Indigenous leaders from around the world at CSW67.
“We do face a lot of similar issues just because I think colonization has the same tactics for all Indigenous people,” McGuire-Cyrette says. “Some of those relationships are working out where we’re planning to hold a side event at next year’s CSW. We’re collaborating with Aboriginal women from Australia, Mexico and a couple of other countries where we’re seeing who’s interested in joining us to hold our own side event. We really want to see an Indigenous women’s theme at a future CSW.”
The priority theme for CSW67 was innovation and technological change, and education in the digital age for achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls.
“Indigenous women really need to be involved in all these forums, in looking at accountability of systems that continue to fail us,” McGuire-Cyrette says. “They have this event every year in New York.”
McGuire-Cyrette says ONWA is committed to empowering and supporting all Indigenous women.
“Ending violence against Indigenous women and their families, along with ensuring equal access to justice, education, health services, environmental stewardship and economic development … sit at the cornerstone of what we do,” McGuire-Cyrette says. “My focus is to ensure that the voices of Indigenous women are represented at international forums like the CSW67 to keep Indigenous women safe. Improving Indigenous women’s participation and leadership in key sectors like technology and science is critical to support equity for Indigenous women and girls and must be part of Canada’s reconciliation journey.”
McGuire-Cyrette says they were also planning to attend the United Nations 2023 Water Conference, which was scheduled for March 22-24 in New York.
“We really want to be able to bring forward recommendations here and bring forward issues that Indigenous women are facing here in Canada to the Water Conference, particularly looking at Grassy Narrows and the mercury poisoning happening in the community there and the effects on women,” McGuire-Cyrette says.
“And then we’ve got the UN’s Permanent Forum on Indigenous (Issues) that will be happening in April as well, so just being able to participate in them and for us to speak on our own behalf (is important) because a lot of times if we are not at these forums you can have non-Indigenous people speaking on Indigenous peoples’ issues and I think we’ve had enough of that in colonization. We have capacity as Indigenous people to speak on our own behalf now in reclaiming our leadership.”