First Nations Leaders Call for Safety, Equality, Respect to Mark International Women’s Day

(Ottawa, ON):  Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde, together with Regional Chief Shane Gottfriedson and AFN Women’s Council Chair Therese Villeneuve, today marked International Women’s Day by Canadians to celebrate the success of Indigenous women in Canada, and honour them by ensuring their safety, education and equality.

“Today we celebrate the many essential contributions women make at the centre of our families and our communities,” said AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde.  “Our relationships with our mothers, sisters, aunts and daughters are sacred and they must be respected.  Today we celebrate the success of Indigenous women across Canada and we honour them by committing to their safety, education, employment and equality wherever they reside.”



International Women’s Day is acknowledged annually March 8.  It celebrates social, political and economic achievements of women while focusing world attention on areas requiring further action.  This year’s international theme is focused on gender parity.

“First Nations women still have many challenges ahead of us in terms of equality and equity at all levels, whether it be among First Nation governments, provincial or federal,” said Okanese First Nation Chief Marie-Anne Day Walker-Pelletier who is the longest serving female Chief in Canada.  “Efforts must be made to promote, provide and support upper level management and political opportunities for First Nations women.”

“Indigenous women in Canada should have access to the same opportunity as every other Canadian – male or female,” said AFN Women’s Council Chair Therese Villeneuve.  “The AFN women’s council supports and promotes Indigenous women in leadership roles in our communities and across the country.  We celebrate our sisters who are thriving in their homes and family units and in business and high level careers.  Every role must be respected and every woman and young girl must be supported to fulfil their dreams for success.”

International Women’s Day follows the second National Roundtable on missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls which last month brought together Indigenous families, leaders and federal, provincial, territorial leaders to set priorities to address and prevent violence.

“Safety and security for Indigenous women and girls is an urgent priority that requires immediate attention and long-term, coordinated action that will address head-on the vulnerabilities that lead to violence,” said AFN Regional Chief Shane Gottfriedson who leads efforts in the area of justice and addressing violence against Indigenous women and girls.  “There is no quick fix or easy answer, but with the appropriate investments in shelters, day cares, education and housing (just to name some), we will be able to better achieve safety and better support success.”

For more information on work toward a national action plan to address and prevent violence against women and girls and the upcoming 2016 National Roundtable please visit:

The Assembly of First Nation is the national organization representing First Nation citizens in Canada.  Follow AFN on Twitter @AFN_Comms, @AFN_Updates.

For more information please contact:

Jenna Young Castro AFN Communications Officer
613-241-6789, ext. 401; 613-314-8157 or

Alain Garon AFN Bilingual Communications Officer
613-241-6789, ext. 382; 613-292-0857 or

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