On 28 October 2019, the Canadian International Council partnered with the Centre for Defense and Security Studies at the University of Manitoba to present the inaugural event of the Winnipeg Chapter of Women in International Security (WIIS). The event was held at McNally Robinson Booksellers and featured a post-election discussion about safety, security, and defense challenges facing Canada.
The creation of WIIS chapters across Canada is a direct outcome of United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325 Women and peace and security. UNSCR 1325 was adopted unanimously by the UN Security Council on 31 October 2000. It acknowledges the disproportionate and unique impact of armed conflict on women and girls and calls for the adoption of a gender perspective to consider the special needs of women and girls during conflict, repatriation and resettlement, rehabilitation, reintegration, and post-conflict reconstruction.
This event featured a panel of distinguished experts chosen for their ability to discuss the fields of safety, security and defense from a woman’s perspective: Royal Canadian Mounted Police Assistant Commissioner Jane MacLatchy, Canadian Armed Forces Major Genevieve Dussault, and Ms. Mary Scott, who is the co-founder of the Institute for International Women’s Rights Manitoba. Dr. Andrea Charron, Director of Centre for Defense and Security Studies and Professor in the Department of Political Studies at the University of Manitoba, served as the moderator.
Each panelist spoke about their experience with Canadian defense and security in a DAVOS style debate. Commissioner MacLatchy talked about cyber security, national security and terrorism, drug availability and the need for community involvement for the prevention of security breaches. Major Dussault spoke about defense policy and it’s “Strong at home”, “Secure in North America”, and “Engage in the world” principles that connect to responses to climate change, equipment maintenance, and community engagement. Mary Scott asserted that Canada must form its own foreign policy and that peace and security are inseparable and that women’s rights must be central in safety, security, and defense.
After the debate, Dr. Charron asked each panelist a question. In response to the question how do we promote resilience in communities so we can prevent crime, Commissioner MacLatchy highlighted the importance of public engagement: what do people want to see in terms of reconciliation, de-radicalization, etc. Asked why should Canada be chosen over Ireland or Norway for a seat on the United Nations Security Council, Mary Scott stated that Canada’s investment in Human Rights is the reason it should obtain the seat. Questions from the audience addressed topics related to missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, avoiding “othering” narratives when talking about terrorism, and how individuals can contribute to anti-money laundering initiatives.
Following the panel, the Branch President Brad Kirbyson thanked the speakers, partners and the audience. The event was followed by casual discussion over coffee.