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News Release - Manitoba

March 21, 2024

Manitoba Government Convenes First Matriarch Circle

The Manitoba government today held the first gathering of a new Matriarch Circle that will prioritize the protection and well-being of Indigenous women, girls and gender diverse people, Families Minister Nahanni Fontaine, minister responsible for women and gender equity, announced today. 

“The matriarchs who make up this circle bring a wealth of experience in empowering, mentoring and supporting Indigenous women and girls,” said Fontaine. “They have broken barriers and built healthy paths for younger generations to follow. Their unique perspectives will be critical to our collective efforts and their insights and expertise will be pivotal in advancing our shared goal of ending all forms of violence towards Indigenous women and girls including those who are gender diverse.” 

The minister noted the Matriarch Circle includes diverse representation from accomplished Afro-Indigenous, Anishinaabe, Anisininew, Cree, Dakota, Dene, Inuit and Métis women, youth and gender-diverse relatives. They are knowledge keepers, authors, artists, actors, athletes and storytellers with experience in justice, health and social services who bring expertise gained through years of advocacy, said Fontaine. 

The Matriarch Circle will work to identify key priorities and recommend strategic approaches. The circle will meet twice a year, timed with the summer and winter solstices. 

In January, the Manitoba government also announced the appointment of a special advisor on Indigenous women’s issues and secretary to the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and Two-Spirit Peoples and Gender-Based Violence Committee of Cabinet. The advisor will lead the development of Manitoba’s MMIWG2S+ provincial strategy. 

The minister noted the establishment of the Matriarch Circle is the next step in the sacred work of keeping Indigenous women, girls and gender-diverse relatives empowered and safe. 

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