EQUAY-WUK (WOMEN’S GROUP)

Organization Overview

 Equay-wuk (plural for “Woman” in the Ojibway and Oji-Cree languages)

 Provincially Incorporated in 1989

 Independent from other women’s group

 Non-Profit Charitable Organization

 Elected Board of Directors – 2 year term

 Catchment area is made up of 31 First Nation communities in remote Northwestern Ontario

Demographics of the Area Served
by Equay-wuk (Women’s Group)
 Vast remote area that covers ½ the province of Ontario

 Inhabited by over 18,000 Ojibway, Oji-Cree and Cree people

 Most communities are accessible only by air

 High cost of living

 Limited employment opportunities


Early Years 1988-1992
 Equay-wuk (Women’s Group) was formed in March 1988 to stage a conference for Aboriginal Women in the western portion of the province of Ontario.

 The theme for the conferences was

   ME-NO-BE-MA-DE-SEE-WIN -- Good Way of Life

Early Years Conferences/Workshops
 August 88 in Sioux Lookout

   Title -- Northern Women’s Conference

 Five Regional Workshops

   Agenda for each community workshop was set by local women

   These workshops increased community awareness of problems that women deal with

   Open to members of the host community and surrounding communities

 March 1990 in Sioux Lookout

 December 1991 in Webequie

 August 1992 in Sioux Lookout

   Title -- Developing Partnerships Between Women and Political Leadership


Bringing Aboriginal Women Together
 The conferences/workshops brought Aboriginal women together to:

   Strengthen their networks of communication

   Share common issues and concerns

   Develop strategies to meet these concerns

   Implement these strategies

   Recognize and develop their strengths

   Support one another

Outcomes of Early Conferences

 Developed partnerships between women and the political leaders in the communities

 Increased community awareness of the problems that women deal with

 Involved women in planning and conducting their own workshops

 Provided insight into the crucial need for more education and public awareness about family violence


Recommendations

 from Early Conferences

 Topics for future education and discussion

   Family Violence

   Youth Suicide

   Alcohol and Substance Abuse

   Parenting

   Skills Training

   Sex Education

1st Programs at Equay-wuk
 Funded by the Sioux Lookout Area Aboriginal Management Board (SLAAMB) - 1992

   Interpreter/Translator Training

   Short Order Cook Training

 Sponsored by Wawatay Native Communications Society

   A Television Program called “Equay-wuk Speaks”


Quote from 1989-1990
 “Equay-wuk (Women’s Group) has a mandate to provide opportunities for Aboriginal women to educate themselves about family violence so they will initiate activities that focus on providing solution to these problems.”

                                    (1989-1990– ME-NO-BE-MA-DE-SEE-WIN)

Quote from 1992 Conference
 “It is hoped that the Chiefs and council members will now support initiatives begun by women, and send a message that violence against women will no longer be tolerated.” (August 1992 – conference Developing Partnerships Between Women and Political Leadership)


Today 2010
Organizational Objectives/Current Programs
 To coordinate and facilitate the delivery of the Community Wellness Program

 To provide culturally appropriate resources which promote wellness, education and self-development

 To identify community wellness needs, issues and concerns

 Programs at Equay-wuk (Women’s Group)

   Community Wellness Program (STARTED 1995)

   Nishnawbe Women’s Wellness (NEW PROGRAM)

 To maintain and operate employment training programs

 Program’s at Equay-wuk (Women’s Group)

   Job Readiness Skills Training Program

   (Started in 1993 a 23 week training program)

   Employment Ready Skills Training Program

   (Started in 1994 a 12 week training program)

   Early Childhood Education Diploma Program by Distance Education

   (Started in 1993 delivered through St. Lawrence College)

 To empower women to determine their future

 To provide forums for women to become more independent and more assertive about their own needs within their community

 Program at Equay-wuk (Women’s Group)

   Building Aboriginal Women’s Leadership Program

                                             * Originally called ‘Women in Self-Government’

Today 2010
Organizational Objective/Activities
 To network and share information

 Activities at Equay-wuk (Women’s Group)

   Host conferences

   Facilitate Community Workshops

   Develop Manuals and Training Kits

   Maintain a Web Site

   Train-the-Trainer workshops for First Nations to facilitate focus groups in their own community on parenting and family violence prevention


Twenty Years Later…
 Following the vision of our founders Equay-wuk (Women’s Group) continues to provide information and education on the topic of family violence.

 Through the “Healthy Families Healthy Nations” Family Violence Prevention Program we have:

   produced training manuals, activity workbooks, individual booklets, community kits

   trained service providers and professional on the prevention of Family Violence


Future
 Equay-wuk (Women’s Group) is committed to empowering women, youth and families who reside within Northwestern Ontario First Nations communities.

 We continue to apply for funding to facilitate positive change to reflect the aspirations and self-determination of the First Nation people we serve.