In 1968, Mary Two-Axe Early, a Mohawk of Kahnawake, created the Equal Rights for Native Women association. This year, the Assembly of First Nations will recognize October 5th as the first annual First Nations Women’s Day.
In this province, Quebec Native Women (QNW) was established in 1974 to support Aboriginal women in their effort for better living conditions and to work for the recognition of equal rights. Two years ago, a Youth Council was given a seat on the board. In the two years of their existence there have been obstacles to overcome, but wonderful achievements have been made as well.
Last year, 45 young women from across the province met in Montreal to share their concerns and discuss issues. Many youth expressed concern about the rate of suicide in their communities and the social problems associated with a lack of self-esteem and identity. They also expressed concern over the lack of information about Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, in terms of awareness of what it is and how to prevent it. The other main concerns about how to run a youth council, how to get youth involved in the council and how to accomplish projects as a youth council.
To address these issues, the QNWYC held a training session last April entitled Nikani. Participants learned how to implement a youth council and how to realize projects through a series of workshops.
Another major accomplishment was their participation at the International Indigenous Youth Conference held this past June in Vancouver, BC. Kim Picard, QNW Youth Council Coordinator, attended the conference with members of First Nations from all over the world. She was very much surprised to learn that colonialism has had similar effects all over the world. “There are bands, things like clear-cuts, and the governments are not listening. South America is much worse off, people are being killed and jailed for fighting for their rights.”
The next major event is the International Youth Conference being held this December in Caracas, Venezuela. Doreen Picard, The QNW Youth Council Representative, will attend.
To become a member of the QNW Youth Council, if you are a First Nations woman between the ages of 18-30, it is as simple as filling out a QNW membership form and paying the 5$ annual fee. Each nation of Quebec has a representative, and elections are held once a year. The provincial representative, who sits at the QNW Board of Directors meetings, also sits on the boards of the Native Women’s Association of Canada Youth Council, and the Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador Youth Council.
Elections of the representatives are currently underway. The Innu held their elections last week with Nadia Mollen reelected as the rep. The urban rep election will be held in Quebec City, Sept 23-24.
The current Cree rep is Annika Vachon-Ottereyes of Waswanipi. Dates for the election of the Cree rep have yet to be determined.
For further information, you can contact Kim Picard at 450-632-0088 or go to www.faq-qnw.org/.