Alnoba Lewis Family Foundation Honors Christa Big Canoe with Moment of Truth Award for Gender Equity

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Alnoba Lewis Family Foundation Honors Christa Big Canoe with Moment of Truth Award for Gender Equity

Canada NewsWire

Activist seeks justice for families of missing and murdered Indigenous women

KENSINGTON, N.H., Sept. 21, 2021 /CNW/ -- The Alnoba Lewis Family Foundation announced the creation of a new series of awards for Gender Equity Leadership. The first award in the series is the Alnoba Moment of Truth Award, which will be presented to Christa Big Canoe, Legal Director, Aboriginal Legal Services in Toronto, Canada.

This award recognizes a daring woman leader committed to advancing gender equity while demonstrating the moral courage, tenacity and guts needed to bring about equality.  

Christa Big Canoe is the Legal Director for Aboriginal Legal Services (ALS), a nonprofit organization that, in part, works with the families of missing and murdered Indigenous women (MMIW) to navigate the legal system to find justice for their loved ones.

"In life and in leadership we all face moments of truth. Daring leaders face the fire when things are raging hot, confront the tough issues and take decisive action," said Harriet and Alan E. Lewis, Co-Founders of Alnoba Lewis Family Foundation. "Christa's unwavering courage to raise the world's attention to a significant Indigenous and gender equity issue puts her at the forefront of the urgent issue of women's rights, working for justice and long overdue change. We are proud to honor her with this award."

Currently, four out of every five Indigenous American women are affected by violence, and are murdered at rates more than 10 times the national average. By far the majority of those crimes are committed by individuals from outside the Native American community, often falling through jurisdictional cracks. It is a crisis that demands action--a crisis that prompted Christa to take the kind of bold action that leads to big impact.

In 2017, Christa was appointed Senior and then Lead Commission Council for Canada's National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. Christa took a two and a half year leave from her work at ALS to lead thirteen Indigenous lawyers, twenty-six statement gatherers and a support team responsible for collecting truth from survivors and families.  The testimonies from "truth finding gatherings" have created one of the largest evidentiary records in Canada.

Christa also represented six of the seven families in the "Seven Youth Inquest" in Thunder Bay, Ontario. This investigation of the deaths of seven Indigenous students resulted in 145 federal and provincial recommendations to improve accountability, safety and education outcomes for Nishnawbe Aski Nation youths. While at Legal Aid Ontario, she led the province-wide Aboriginal Justice Strategy aimed at removing barriers to the legal system for Indigenous people.
"As a First Nation woman, mother and lawyer, I aspire to increase access to justice for Indigenous people. In order for Indigenous women, children and two spirited people to thrive we need equal access to education, opportunity, health and care.  It should not have to be such a hard fought battle but it is.  What is inspiring now, is to see more Indigenous women and allies take up the challenge to protect these rights," states Big Canoe.

In addition to the Gender Equity Leadership Awards, Harriet and Alan E. Lewis launched the Alnoba Environmental Leadership Awards in 2018 to honor brave and brilliant leaders whose courage, wisdom or potential inspire us to act more boldly for environmental justice. In 2007, in partnership with the Boston Business Journal, the Lewises established the CEO Social Leadership Award to recognize a CEO in greater Boston who exemplifies corporate citizenship.

The award includes a $10,000 donation in the recipient's name to the nonprofit of their choice.

The awards will be presented at the Alnoba Environmental Leadership Awards Dinner on October 13, 2021 in partnership with ReVision Energy, UNH Sustainability Institute, Citizens Count, Conservation Law Foundation and other leading environmental nonprofits. 

About Alnoba Lewis Foundation
The Alnoba Lewis Family Foundation has pledged or donated more than $200 million since 1981. The Foundation transforms people's lives and builds strong communities by empowering young people, developing courageous leaders and creating strong alliances with key strategic partners to help save the earth we share. The organization's work is focused on the Lewis family's hometowns of Boston, MA and Kensington, NH and within the global villages where their company, Grand Circle Corporation, travels.

SOURCE Alnoba Lewis Family Foundation

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