On-reserve schools to get free menstrual products, says Indigenous Services minister

·2 min read
Minister of Indigenous Services Patty Hajdu responds to a question at a news conference Oct. 26 in Ottawa. She tweeted on Friday about making menstrual products freely available in on-reserve schools. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press - image credit)
Minister of Indigenous Services Patty Hajdu responds to a question at a news conference Oct. 26 in Ottawa. She tweeted on Friday about making menstrual products freely available in on-reserve schools. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press - image credit)

Period equity activists are waiting for more details after Indigenous Services Minister Patty Hajdu tweeted on Friday that menstrual products would be freely available in all on-reserve schools.

In an emailed statement to CBC News, a spokesperson for Indigenous Services Canada said "Menstrual products are a basic need, and will be freely available to all students at First Nation-operated schools on reserves and federal schools."

The statement did not provide a timeline of when the initiative would roll out, or if Inuit and Métis communities would be included.

Tania Cameron, a Kenora, Ont.-based community organizer who is Anishinaabe from Niisaachewan Anishinaabe Nation, has been running a menstrual product drive since Nov. 1. for students in northwestern Ontario First Nations after they were excluded from an Ontario initiative to provide the products for free in schools.

Josh Cameron
Josh Cameron

"It's huge," Cameron said of the announcement.

"I think if it impacts that one student not to miss school that day, if it helps that student not be embarrassed or ashamed that their family doesn't have the resources to provide for that product, then I think this is a major win for all of the students on-reserve."

Which communities will be included?

Veronica Brown is lead co-ordinator of the Ontario chapter of Moon Time Sisters, a period equity organization that works with northern and remote Indigenous communities.

She said she was excited to see the minister's tweet on Friday, and is waiting for more clarification from the federal government.

"What is this actually going to look like? Are Inuit communities also included in this? Or is it just specifically on-reserve... or band funded schools? So that's kind of a question that we're asking because we do support quite a lot of Inuit communities," said Brown.

Moon Time Sisters Ontario
Moon Time Sisters Ontario

Brown said a move to fund menstrual products for on-reserve schools would definitely make an impact, but the work they do would continue.

"The conversation can't stop at schools," she said, adding that high prices in remote communities are barriers for others as well.

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