Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC)
Carol McBride is an activist and a bridge builder, who says Indigenous women are unwilling to wait for change within the colonial institutions that have held them in a cycle of dependency.
President McBride was elected to lead the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) in July 2022, as it expands the services it delivers to Indigenous women and gender-diverse people. She says the Seven Grandfather Teachings – love, truth, bravery, humility, wisdom, honesty, and respect – are central to her leadership at NWAC.
“I strongly believe that Indigenous women, girls, and gender-diverse peoples have always possessed the agency and the expertise to know what is right for themselves and for their families,” she says. “Indigenous women bring communities together; they are life givers and knowledge transferrers. Indigenous women can change the world and I carry this message with me wherever I go.”
President McBride is an Algonquin leader and Elder from Timiskaming First Nation on the shores of Lake Timiskaming in northwestern Quebec. Prior to her election as NWAC President, she was the Program Director for the Timiskaming Native Women’s Support Group at Keepers of the Circle, an Indigenous hub in Northern Ontario.
Her activism on behalf of her people began at the age of 18 when she participated in a peaceful sit-in organized by Indigenous youth at the headquarters of what was then the Indian Affairs department in Ottawa. She was also a prominent leader of the fight to thwart the City of Toronto’s plans to dump its garbage in Northern Ontario.
She served for six years on the council of the Temiskaming First Nation before becoming the First Nation’s first female Chief, a position she held for 13 years. Under her leadership, the community’s infrastructure was expanded with a new long-term-care home, a new elementary school, a new water treatment plant, and a new band office.
President McBride also served as the Grand Chief of the Algonquin Nation for two terms, during which time she secured an agreement giving the Algonquin 51 per cent ownership of the Obajiwan-Fort Temiscam- ing National Historical Site.
One of her primary goals as NWAC Presi-dent is to ensure that the Calls for Justice of the National Inquiry into Missing and Mur- dered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) are enacted by decision-makers at all levels.
“The findings in the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls report outlined and validated what we have known for decades — that Indigenous women continue to be the target of systemic barriers aiming to oppress us and assimilate us,” says President McBride. “The four pathways that maintain colonial violence are: historical, multigenerational, and intergenerational trauma; social and economic marginalization; maintaining the status quo and institutional lack of will; and ignoring the agency and expertise of Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA people. I will target these pathways and give a voice to the collective of Indigenous people out there who are calling for change.”
Reconciliation, she says, begins with equita- ble inclusion in policy decisions that impact Indigenous women and gender-diverse people, including in environmental policy planning and national priorities related to climate change.
“I will network with our people and listen to all, and work hard to bring these items into spaces that have been historically closed to our women,” says President McBride. “I will build relationships with nations, organizations and people that have common goals and strengthen our positions by working together.
President McBride is fighting for equality in training opportunities, education, health care, mental-health awareness, and housing for Indigenous women and gender-diverse people. She emphasizes the importance of healing from intergenerational trauma and is lobbying for the resources needed to end the plague of substance abuse in both urban and rural Indigenous communities.
She also demands that plan for implement- ing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP) has concrete, accountable and measurable targets that give people every opportunity to achieve self-determination.