The members of the new Advisory Council on Aboriginal Women were confirmed on Nov. 8 by Mary Polak, Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation.
The council was first announced on the final day of the Collaboration to End Violence: National Aboriginal Women's Forum in June. Since June, government has been talking to Aboriginal leaders across the province to ensure that the council is representative of a broad cross-section of Aboriginal groups.
The council will provide advice to government through the minister on how to improve the quality of life for Aboriginal women in B.C. Some of the tasks for the council members include:
* Providing advice and recommendations to government to ensure programs supporting Aboriginal women will respond to their needs, build on effective practices and success, and be supported by key partners.
* Reviewing, revising and helping implement an engagement plan if required, such as co-hosting discussions with partners and communities.
* Reviewing, revising and maintaining a progress report on outcomes.
The council will be chaired by leading Aboriginal women's advocate Wendy Grant-John.
The other council members bring a range of experience and knowledge from regions across B.C. and were selected from a diverse range of Aboriginal people and organizations:
* Interior: Charlene Belleau, Esketemc First Nation
* Northcentral: Mary Tegee, Takla Lake First Nations
* South: Chief Kim Baird, Tsawwassen First Nation
* Southeast: Sophie Pierre, St Mary's Indian Band
* Island: Darlene Shackelly, Kwakiutl First Nation
* Northeast/Métis: Paulette Flamond
* Island/Urban: Debbie Williams, Cowichan Tribes
* Downtown East Side: Judy Graves
"It is important that the voices of Aboriginal women are heard when policy and programs directly affect them,” said Polak. “Government doesn't have all the answers and we have worked hard to seek expertise from every corner of the province to ensure that diverse viewpoints and cultures are represented, to allow the council to draw on a wide range of knowledge and experience."
Council chair Wendy Grant John said “To have Aboriginal women advising on matters that directly impact the day to day lives of women from across the Province is a positive step forward. There is a great deal of important work to be done, but I believe that we have assembled an excellent team. I am looking forward to working with all of these extraordinary women."