Trent’s Dr. Dawn Lavell-Harvard recently attended a prestigious economic roundtable with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to discuss the challenges and solutions to gender equity in Canada.
As director of the First Peoples House of Learning at Trent University, Dr. Lavell-Harvard provided input about the specific barriers to Indigenous women, and remarked that throughout the roundtable there was unified agreement that women of any ethnicity face the same primary challenge: Accessing affordable, safe and quality childcare.
“We were unified in the opinion that one of the primary barriers to equality is women’s role as mothers,” she says. “The time off we take to have and care for children, as well as the impact of the high cost of safe childcare. This came up a number of times as a significant barrier to women.”
Experts from across the country as well as several high-profile politicians including for Women and Gender Equality Maryam Monsef ’03 and Finance Minister William Morneau also attended the roundtable, held in Ottawa on December 13.
Dr. Lavell-Harvard says it was exciting to represent Trent as they discussed the cost of safe childcare and the limits women face because of daycare’s limited hours. Indigenous women face specific challenges, she says, because they tend to have more children and become mothers at a younger age.
The roundtable was held in honour of the late Kate McInturff – a feminist trailblazer in public policy and gender-based research who worked at the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.
Before joining the Trent community in her current role, Dr. Lavell-Harvard was the president of the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC), where she played an instrumental role in the appointment of an independent commission to investigate the disproportionate rate of violence against Indigenous women.