By Marc Lalonde
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
The Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations said the government’s fulsome response to the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls report filed June 3 will have to wait until fall in order to canvas Indigenous leaders across the country but indicated it may not be ready before the federal election, slated for later this year.
“We will have an action plan where our partners think it’s adequate? we will work with our partners, and we will get to that place where we will have a roadmap for the concrete actions to stop this tragedy,” Bennett said in a press conference last Thursday.
The report, which was presented last week after years of preparation, concluded that Canada’s history and process of colonization have perpetuated gross mistreatment of Indigenous people, including “assimilationist and genocidal government laws” leading to high rates of violence against Indigenous women, girls, two-spirit and LGBTQ people.
“Substantial and transformative change by all orders of government is essential to ending the violence against Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people,” Carolyn Bennett said, using an acronym that refers to two-spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex and asexual people.
“As a government and as Canadians, we must do more and we vow to do better to end this national tragedy,” she said, citing statistics that show Indigenous women and girls are 12 times more likely to be murdered or go missing than other women in Canada.
The report featured 231 calls for change, including the establishment of a federal ombudsperson for Indigenous people, a tribunal for Indigenous and human rights, more long-term funding for education and awareness programs related to preventing violence, police and criminal-justice reforms, and more cultural sensitivity towards Indigenous children.
Bennett said she would sit down with Indigenous leaders this week, but no timeline had yet been established for the government’s full recommendations.
“The important thing is that the commission asked us to develop a national action plan with our partners,” she said, adding that getting the process started is the first step. “We will put in place a process right now to be able to get to that process for us to develop a national action plan? you have to start by starting,” Bennett said.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has vowed the government would no longer fail Indigenous people. His government will review the 1,200-page report to address the issues raised in the report.
“The work of the commissioners, the stories they have collected, and the calls for justice they have put forward, will not be placed on a shelf to collect dust,” Trudeau said.
Marc Lalonde is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the IORI:WASE . The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.