On Saturday, November 14, the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) held their annual Rock for Public Services benefit concert at TD Place. On the bill were Canadian staples Matt Mays and Sam Roberts Band, as well as local sensation Amanda Rheaume.
Each year, CUPE selects an organization or initiative to support with funds raised from the concert. This year, The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) partnered with CUPE in support of their Sisters In Spirit initiative, drawing a crowd of more than 7000 people at the stadium. Furthermore, in attendance was the Honourable Justice Murry Sinclair (Chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada), as well as Elder Irene Lindsay (Board Elder of the Aboriginal Healing Foundation, amongst many other aboriginal support organizations across Canada).
We spoke to the NWAC’s Jenn Jefferys to find out more about the event itself, as well as the NWAC’s mandate and overall goals.
The Canadian Union of Public Employees’ ‘Rock for Public Services’ is an annual event put on by CUPE Local 580 and CUPE Ontario created to raise awareness of the importance of public services in Canada. Each year the Union selects a charity they feel is worth generating more buzz about, and this year (in their eighth year) they selected NWAC and Sisters in Spirit.
Each year they host a different selection of bands. This year featured Amanda Rheaume, Matt Mays and headliner Sam Roberts Band. It was incredible. It was actually Sam Roberts’ birthday on Saturday, so he was especially stoked to be performing for us. Such a nice guy!
The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) is a non-profit organization founded in 1974 to enhance, promote, and foster the social, economic, cultural and political well-being of First Nations and Métis women within First Nation, Métis and Canadian societies.
We do some very important work surrounding the prevention of violence against indigenous women, fostering the entrepreneurship and business knowledge in indigenous women, building bridges between government and traditional native culture, and much more.
This organization is especially critical right now and in the coming months due to the nature of our socio-political climate and the urgency of Aboriginal plight. I would argue that there has never been such a cross-cultural appetite toward fostering reconciliation. and building a better world for Canada’s Aboriginal peoples – particularly women.
Also, given the fact that our new Prime Minister and our new Minister for Indigenous Affairs have stated that they are in favour of a National Inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women (long awaited and long demanded from this organization and many more) NWAC will be playing an integral part in building a more compassionate and prosperous future for indigenous women. It’s a very exciting time for us.
Saturday’s concert raised more than $12,000 for our Sisters in Spirit initiative — a project funded by Status of Women Canada and created to conduct research and raise awareness of the alarming high rates of violence against Aboriginal women and girls in Canada.
More than 7,000 people turned up to the event to show their support for our cause and enjoy the music. It was a massive success — so incredibly inspiring — especially since so many people there were so young and so thirsty for knowledge on indigenous peoples and culture. It’s clear that things are finally changing.
It was a great opportunity for us to talk about what we do and how the public can support our work.
NWAC is always looking for volunteers and seeking donations to keep our work going. You can follow us on Twitter @NWAC_CA to stay informed, visit our website at nwac.ca or just give us a call anytime toll free at +1 800-461-4043. We’d love to talk to anyone willing to support our cause and help us grow.
About Jenn Jefferys
Jenn Jefferys is the Communications Officer for the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC). NWAC’s mission is to help empower women by being involved in developing and changing legislation which affects them, and involving them in the development and delivery of programs promoting equal opportunity for Aboriginal women.