August 7, 2006
(Labrador and Aboriginal Affairs)
The Path to the Good Life report on the Aboriginal women’s conference released
Joan Burke, Minister Responsible for the Status of Women, and Tom Rideout, Minister Responsible for Aboriginal Affairs, said today that a report detailing discussions of the historic Aboriginal Women’s Conference in March will be an excellent resource for governments and Aboriginal leaders in efforts to address issues of importance to the Aboriginal women’s community.
The conference, The Path to the Good Life, which took place in Happy Valley-Goose Bay in March, was the first such forum to be held in this province. The idea stemmed from a tour of the north coast of Labrador by Premier Danny Williams and Minister Burke in 2004 where they saw firsthand the complexity and diversity of the issues faced by Aboriginal women. The conference was organized by a steering committee of Aboriginal women in partnership with the Women’s Policy Office and Labrador and Aboriginal Affairs.
The report, written by conference facilitator Judy White, outlines the concerns, suggestions and recommendations raised by Aboriginal women during their meetings regarding culture, health care, governance, violence, justice, education and training, housing, access to programs and funding, and employment.
"This input is extremely important when implementing programs and policies that impact Aboriginal women and their communities," said Minister Burke. "The report will be very useful for governments and Aboriginal leaders as we work with Aboriginal women and plan for the national Aboriginal women’s summit." Premier Williams announced July 25 that Newfoundland and Labrador will host a national summit on Aboriginal women’s issues next year.
Government has already begun to take action on a number of issues outlined in the report. In Budget 2006, the provincial government provided funding for increases to legal aid services, improved health and policing services, improved women’s shelters in Labrador and the development of a strategy to improve access to translators for Aboriginal people using the Justice system. Aboriginal women’s issues are also identified as a significant part of the government’s new six-year plan of action on violence prevention. Government is currently undertaking a review of cultural sensitivity and culturally appropriate services and supports to ensure that all Aboriginal people receive services from government with respect and understanding.
"This government is committed to hearing directly from Aboriginal people on what issues and challenges are important to them," said Minister Rideout. "We need to work together, along with the federal government, to develop strategies and solutions that work for communities."
Conference facilitator and author of the report, Judy White, was pleased to hear such a positive response to the report. "The conference was an opportunity for Aboriginal women to come together, and rediscover their strengths and similarities and have the opportunity to begin a dialogue for lasting change," said Ms White. "We look forward to continuing this dialogue and we now have a report to guide our work together."
The document is being shared with all conference participants, the federal and Aboriginal governments, Aboriginal organizations and other key stakeholders. It can also be viewed at www.gov.nl.ca/exec/WPO.
2006 08 07 9:25 a.m.
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