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Charlottetown’s 2014 Declaration: A bold vision for the future of Canada
As women, we have a big, bold, and inclusive vision for the future of Canada. We believe that Canada can, and must, become a model of democracy, human rights fulfillment, and women’s equality, both for ourselves and for the rest of the world. As women, we embrace and are a part of every community and group in the country.
We understand and acknowledge the oppression, disadvantage, violence, and marginalization that women in all our diversity experience. We are dedicated to a future that brings real equality in conditions and circumstances to women and to everyone. Women’s voices bring critical value to areas in which they are currently not heard.
1. The pathway to Canada’s future must be boldly collaborative, building its foundation from the original nation-to-nation relationships with Indigenous nations. The spirit and intent of the relationships and treaties forged were based on mutual respect, prosperity, and protection. Reconciliation is fundamental.
2. A challenge in Canada is that the country was shaped by waves of colonization and immigration. Hence, Canada must begin a new national dialogue where a new Constitutional agreement will be put forward with Québec, the other provinces and territories, as well as Indigenous nations. We recognize that the future entails an ability to respect and protect French and Indigenous languages and cultures so they can thrive. This is a necessary precursor to respecting all other languages. These founding pieces of our shared history need to be fully acknowledged.
3. Confederation was built from East to West, but the North was not a part of the vision. Going forward, we need to recognize the North and Northerners as the decision makers, and we must uphold the modern treaties and other agreements forged between Indigenous nations, Federal, and Provincial and Territorial Governments. Northerners must have access to infrastructure and institutions as they choose, to complete the map of Canada.
4. Canada is a large and complex country. We need to know each other in order to achieve the social cohesion that will map our future. We need to support the sharing of our history and culture through research and the arts from coast to coast to coast. We acknowledge that nurturing the creation and expression of our stories and our identities will ensure a future grounded in possibilities.
5. Because equality is a core value of Canada, we recognize that in order for true equality to be actualized, it must be substantive and reflected in laws and institutions, and it must be implemented. Building the future of Canada necessitates that all people have a sense of belonging and full citizenship.
6. We recognize that women of colour, including women from immigrant communities, face specific barriers to equality, dignity, and humanity in Canada. We also recognize that racialized women stand in solidarity with the men of their communities to resist systematic racism and violence. There can be no equality for women or any people without recognizing the specific race-based challenges faced by communities of colour, and that all programs, mechanisms, organizations, and solutions must take race into account.
7. All people in Canada have the right to personal autonomy, including the right for women to make decisions about their own bodies.
8. Canada must implement transformative justice models that support marginalized women both as victims of crime and of criminalization and recognize the devastating impact of incarceration on communities. Addressing the disproportionate representation of marginalized communities in the justice system involves seeking community-driven and cross-cultural restorative models.
9. Given that economic research has demonstrated that inequality is detrimental to a healthy economy, it is imperative that we take action to ensure economic wealth is shared fairly. This is central to the future of Canada and to our ability to deliver on Canada’s core value of equality. In order to achieve full equality, we must support labour and social movements and other civil-society organizations that act as equality-promoting forces – as we cannot just depend on markets to deliver full equality for women. Because of women’s persistent economic inequality and the growing number of economically marginalized people, we must reinvest in Canada’s social programs so they can foster and support equality.
10. Accessible education is a right to allow everyone throughout their lives to achieve their full potential in any fields that they choose. We boldly suggest a society that supports life-long learning and invests in creative research and development that will advance scientific knowledge to positively benefit people in Canada.
11. We believe that the work of people, mostly women, providing paid and unpaid care, is essential to our economy now and will remain so in the future. Providing affordable caregiving support systems is critical to allow access and opportunity for all socio-economic strata.
12. We need to redouble our efforts to work across all sectors and all jurisdictions for truly accountable systems for health in order to achieve our bold vision that all people living in the territory of Canada shall be as healthy as possible physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
13. Over the past 150 years, the people living in the territory of Canada transitioned from largely rural to largely urban. As urbanization will keep expanding in the future, the role of municipalities, their revenues and their power in providing essential services – important determinants of the quality of life – must be reevaluated without leaving rural Canada behind.
14. As good governance was chosen by the fathers of confederation as a founding value, we emphasize that women and Indigenous nations must be full partners in the governance of Canada in the future. A commitment to gender parity in all governing bodies in the public and private sector merits a bold effort to achieve that. Women and civil-society organizations must have mechanisms that foster and support women’s full participation in shaping policies and holding governments to account.
15. The bounty of nature has shaped this country. A healthy environment is one of the key legacies for the future inhabitants of the territory of Canada. To prepare this future, the Canada of today should transition rapidly towards sustainable energy and address climate change.
16. We collectively have no future unless we protect our people, especially children and youth, and our land, water, and nations. We need to always consider our future generations, and this should be at the forefront of all decision making.
Written and agreed upon in Charlottetown, September 26, 2014
In the context of the 150th anniversary of the Charlottetown Conference, where 23 Fathers of Confederation met to set the foundation of Canada, 23 women were selected from across Canada for their accomplishments and leadership met in Charlottetown to develop a shared vision for the future of Canada in the coming 150 years.