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ONWA members host Indigenous event in NYC with the United Nations

An Indigenous women-specific side event was created for the first time this year at the UN Commission on the Status of Women.
A delegation from ONWA attended the 68th annual Commission on the Status of Women in New York City.

THUNDER BAY — Ontario Native Women's Association (ONWA) leadership took their yearly trip to New York City to participate in the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW68).

The chief executive officer of ONWA, Cora McGuire-Cyrette, said the goal of this year's meeting is to "hold space for Indigenous women."

"Indigenous women are largely not seen or heard within the larger feminist movement, and so we need to be able to be here in reclaiming our leadership.

"We're here to amplify the voices of Indigenous women in our communities and to be able to look at how we can make systemic change of that global scale and build relationships with other Indigenous women from around the world."

During last year's event, McGuire-Cyrette asked for an Indigenous women-specific side event, something that was granted for this year. 

"We were able to facilitate a panel on looking at what the barriers are for Indigenous women in economic empowerment and not only just what the barriers are, but what are the solutions and what works on, you know, reclaiming our leadership within all spaces."

She noted there was lots of praise and positive feedback.

The event allowed McGuire-Cyrette to showcase why Indigenous women are "reclaiming leadership roles within all spaces."

"We need to reclaim our ways of being and knowing in the spaces of when we're reclaiming our leadership through healing and how we spoke about how Indigenous women lead from heart-centred leadership.

"We're leading not only for us as individuals but for our collective responsibilities for our families and our communities."

When asked about any lessons learned during this year's trip to CSW68, McGuire-Cyrette said she met the Maori Women's Welfare League, and they had similar sentiments about how Indigenous women are viewed around the world.

"Indigenous women are scientists, they're matriarchs, they're doctors, they're lawyers . . . Indigenous women are taking up their rightful place, and we need to change that story with partners and allies, like media."

ONWA has been going to CSW events for a number of years, with McGuire-Cyrette attending them since at least 2016. 

Katie Nicholls, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

About the Author: Katie Nicholls, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Originally from central Ontario, Katie moved here to further her career in the media industry.
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