Evidence of meeting #28 for Status of Women in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was young.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • Bonnie Brayton  National Executive Director, DisAbled Women's Network of Canada
  • Peggy Taillon  President and Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Council on Social Development
  • Jocelyne Wasacase-Merasty  Regional Manager, Prairie Region, National Centre for First Nations Governance
  • Paige Isaac  Coordinator, First Peoples' House

5:10 p.m.

Coordinator, First Peoples' House

Paige Isaac

Social factors? I don't know. The only thing that's coming to mind quickly is what I just —

5:10 p.m.

NDP

Mylène Freeman Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

If you like, maybe we could go to Jocelyne first, and then you can add anything you have at the end.

5:10 p.m.

Regional Manager, Prairie Region, National Centre for First Nations Governance

Jocelyne Wasacase-Merasty

Maybe I'll give you a personal story. When I first started going to university, I had no clue what fields were out there. It was just whatever I stumbled upon. Actually, back then, it was the Saskatchewan Indian Federated College, and I had a person come out to me and actually fill out my forms. I didn't even know I was registered for university until the first semester was over.

It just speaks to the understanding we have of post-secondary. We don't have those people in our lives, those role models who say that university is a must. We don't have a parent sitting behind us writing out our forms and stuff like that.

So I didn't too well the first time I went to university. I was a young mother and I had a lot of social issues. I was actually in an abusive relationship. University didn't work out for me. I had a child, and then I was a young widow, so I had to go back at a later time—

5:10 p.m.

NDP

The Chair Irene Mathyssen

I'm awfully sorry. I keep cutting you off and I regret that, because it is a great honour for us to have both you and Ms. Isaac here and to hear what you have to say.

We are expecting bells soon, for a vote, but we will go into the second round for as much time as we're given.

I would like to remind members of the committee that they can indeed submit any additional questions for witnesses to the clerk following this meeting. The clerk would like to have those by five o'clock tomorrow.

Ms. Ambler, for five minutes.

April 4th, 2012 / 5:10 p.m.

Conservative

Stella Ambler Mississauga South, ON

Thank you, Madam Chair.

I feel so badly that you didn't get to finish your personal story, Jocelyne. Please take a minute, if you'd like to, and finish your thought.

5:10 p.m.

Regional Manager, Prairie Region, National Centre for First Nations Governance

Jocelyne Wasacase-Merasty

I was just going to say that, for me, I was that young, single aboriginal woman trying to go to university. I had a lot of issues that I had to deal with. That's a common story for a lot of us. It's 60% of the story you'll hear from all the aboriginal women across Canada who enter into post-secondary. I actually went back to university about seven years ago and I finished my degree in communications, but I had to go outside. I had to take it in Victoria, B.C. I had to finish that course with a newborn on my lap. There were times when I spent three days in my pyjamas trying to write a paper and look after a newborn.

These are common stories. If you ask the aboriginal women, they'll echo the same kind of story. That's the part of their resilience, and we need to bring out and find ways to embrace those challenges and those stories.

5:15 p.m.

Conservative

Stella Ambler Mississauga South, ON

Sure. Thank you.

I think all of us who have been mothers can sympathize with you there in some way.

I'd like to ask you both, as a matter of fact, a question that my colleague, Ms. James, asked our two previous witnesses here earlier today.

How do you think that Status of Women Canada can empower women to want to succeed? What are the things that we, as a federal government, and Status of Women Canada can do?

5:15 p.m.

Regional Manager, Prairie Region, National Centre for First Nations Governance

Jocelyne Wasacase-Merasty

It would be to create those forums for that dialogue to start happening at the first nations level and really getting them to understand that you're there to listen to them and you're there to understand, first of all, some of the historical concepts, and secondly, some of the challenges that are faced. And also just embrace it by saying we're here to listen and we want to collaborate on a way whereby we can find those solutions, those creative solutions, those innovative solutions, and those things that we haven't talked about yet, and start from there. For me, that's always the place where I love to start any kind of project.

5:15 p.m.

Conservative

Stella Ambler Mississauga South, ON

Paige, do you have any suggestions?

5:15 p.m.

Coordinator, First Peoples' House

Paige Isaac

Yes. I think I would just add supporting programs put in place already, just letting aboriginal women know they can make a difference and that there's support available, and maybe making that support known. Some aboriginal people just don't know where to look and don't know what exists, so it would be just making sure that information and those connections are made and are accessible.

5:15 p.m.

NDP

The Chair Irene Mathyssen

Thank you very much.

I am sorry, the bells are ringing and we do have to go. But, again, we're most grateful to you. You have provided some remarkable insights.

Thank you.

The meeting is adjourned.