WE’KOQMA’Q: A cousin of Cassidy Bernard has recently been elected as president of the Nova Scotia Native Women’s Association (NSNWA) and will now act as an important voice for all Indigenous women across the province.
Annie Bernard-Daisley, a three-term band councillor with We’koqma’q First Nation was elected following former preisdent, Lorraine Whitman being elected national president of the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC).
As president, Bernard-Daisley will lobby all levels of government on issues affecting women and youth in provincial, federal, and international Aboriginal forums.
“I’m their head representative for leading issues of advocacy throughout Nova Scotia,” she told The Reporter. “You’re not only talking missing and murdered, you’re talking about the child welfare act, human trafficking, opioid usage, you’re talking about sexualized violence, violence against women, the list goes on and on.”
Bernard-Daisley, who is also a mother of three girls, indicated the NSNWA is a group of dedicated volunteers and the association has a level of advocacy that has grown to become unsurpassed in the region.
In addition to leading issues of advocacy, Bernard-Daisley said addressing the recent 231 calls for justice from the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls is a top priority of hers – but noted every issue is as crucial and just important.
Under the umbrella of the NWAC, each province and territory has their own Provincial and Territorial Member Associations (PTMA). In Nova Scotia there are 13 Mi’kmaq communities and a total of 15 chapters, including off-reserve Sydney and off-reserve Halifax.
“Each chapter, which are all volunteers, does their own programming, based on any event or dollars that may be trickled down to them, or they can self-generate their own dollars,” Bernard-Daisley said. “We’re governed by the executive board, and then there’s the board of directors, which has a president and two representatives from every Mi’kmaq chapter in the province.”
In total, NSNWA’s board of directors sits at approximately 30 individuals and the elected executive sits at six. The executive will meet at least four times per year, but more as is needed when there’s a really pressing issue that has to be worked on.
Along with Bernard-Daisley as their president the execuitve consists of: Karen Pictou, executive director; Janey Michael, third voice; Bernadette Marshall, first voice; Annie Stevens, second voice; Karina Matthews, secretary; and Sarah McDonald, treasurer.
An aggregate of Indigenous women’s organizations from across the country, NWAC was founded on the collective goal to enhance, promote and foster the social, economic, cultural and political well-being of Indigenous women within their respective communities and Canada societies. Since 1974, NWAC has established strong and lasting governance structures, decision-making processes, financials policies and procedures, and networks to help achieve its overall mission and goals.
The NSNWA is the second oldest Indigenous organization in the province, behind the Nova Scotia Union of Indians.
“I’m proud of the women that work in our head office in Millbrook,” Bernard-Daisley said. “They’ve developed a human resource policy; they’re doing so much that has brought them to be a top-notch organization.”