Indigenous women from 17 American countries gather at Kahnawake July 9 to 11

MONTREAL – July 5, 2007 – Indigenous women from 17 countries across North, Central and South America will gather in Kahnawake on July 9th to 11th for the Fifth Continental Meeting of Indigenous Women of the Americas.

Hosted by Quebec Native Women Inc. with support from Rights & Democracy, this year’s meeting will bring together more than 250 women from countries including Chile, Mexico, Panama, Peru, Nicaragua, Venezuela, the United States and Canada under the banner “Restoring the Balance.” Panels will consider the unique human rights challenges that Indigenous women face and legal as well as traditional and holistic approaches to remedying their causes and effects, with a special emphasis on physical, mental, spiritual and emotional healing.

“The goal of this conference is to empower Indigenous women and celebrate our identities, but most importantly to acknowledge that the teachings of our ancestors is just as relevant today as they were 500 years ago,” said Ellen Gabriel, President of Quebec Native Women Inc. “We hope this conference will provide some long-lasting solutions to the problems that plague our peoples as well as forge new alliances based upon mutual respect, honesty, integrity and peaceful co-existence.”

This Continental Meeting is the fifth in a series initiated by The Continental Network of Indigenous Women, or ENLACE.  Founded as a result of an initiative by Indigenous women from Canada, ENLACE unites Indigenous women from North, Central and South America in the common search for solutions to the economic, social, cultural and environmental issues that affect their lives. This week’s meeting will provide opportunities to discuss experiences in their own countries and develop strategies for addressing common concerns, such as intellectual property rights, the promotion of non-violence, and the international recognition of Indigenous peoples’ rights.

“This collective effort of Indigenous women from across the Americas is essential to resolving the difficult struggles they face,” said Jean-Louis Roy, President of Rights & Democracy. “Rights & Democracy is proud to support this important meeting and the tireless efforts of these women to assert their human rights.