THUNDER BAY – Nishnawbe Aski Nation is broadening the way it advocates for the families of Indigenous people who have been murdered or considered missing.
NAN has advocated for decades for the families of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, but that call will now include the families of Indigenous men and boys.
NAN’s 2024 Chiefs Winter Assembly saw a motion brought forward that would expand advocacy to include missing and murdered Indigenous people. The motion was supported by the chiefs in attendance both in-person and by-proxy.
Deputy Grand Chief Anna Betty Achneepineskum said the motion gives NAN a mandate to advocate for people of any gender and that the change comes at the request of families of missing or murdered men and boys, such as the family of Alex Lawson - who has been missing for more than a year.
"It will address some of the lack of resources that we have, for example, shelters, we don't have emergency shelters for, say, a single dad with children, or our gender diverse citizens,” she said.
“They become vulnerable because we don't have the resources to be able to provide them with those safe spaces.”
The change won't mean any less advocacy for women and girls, Achneepineskum said, adding that NAN wants to see more funding for the prevention of gender-based violence.
“I must add that we receive very minimal funding right now to fulfill the mandate to end violence against Indigenous women and girls and that needs to change as well,” she said.
“There's been a lot of advocacy, not only locally, but all across this nation there has to be more investment for that particular mandate.”