Feds get failing grade for lack of action plan on anniversary of MMIWG report

‘Instead of a National Action Plan, we have been left with a Lack-of-Action Plan’

Wednesday marks one year since the final report of the National Inquiry in Missing and Murdered Indigenous Woman and Girls was published, but the government has been given a failing grade by advocates for its lack of action to address the 231 calls for justice.

In a report card released to mark the anniversary of the nationwide inquiry, the Native Women’s Association of Canada said the government has done little for Indigenous women and girls in the past 12 months.

“Instead of a National Action Plan, we have been left with a Lack-of-Action Plan,” said association president Lorraine Whitman said in a statement. “But the Indigenous women of Canada are pressing ahead. The fact is, we cannot afford to do nothing in the face of the violence that continues to take the lives of First Nations, Métis and Inuit women.”

Last week, Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett said Ottawa is delaying its intended release of the national action plan this month because of disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

READ MORE: Federal delay of MMIWG action plan sparks dismay ahead of inquiry anniversary

The excuse comes as Indigenous rights advocates have been sounding the alarm on how the impacts of the pandemic are exacerbated for Indigenous peoples, including those in prisons – where at least three outbreaks have occurred in B.C. alone – as well as when it comes to domestic violence as families are being told to stay home.

Melissa Moses, Union of BC Indian Chiefs women’s representative, said the pandemic is not an excuse.

“In its decision to delay the plan, Canada also does a discredit to the thousands of survivors of violence, family members, and loved ones who came bravely forward to provide hours of testimony despite immense pain and trauma,” she said in a statement.

Lorelei Williams, whose cousin Tanya Holyk was murdered by serial killer Robert Pickton and aunt Belinda Williams went missing in 1978, wears a t-shirt bearing their photographs as she and her dance troupe Butterflies in Spirit wait to perform after responding to the report on the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, in Vancouver, on Monday June 3, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

In a joint statement Wednesday, the national inquiry’s four commissioners said they “deplore inaction on the part of some governments.”

“As the final report asserts, the calls for justice are not mere recommendations or a quaint list of best practices — they are legal imperatives rooted in Canada’s obligations under international and domestic human rights norms and laws,” the commissioners said.

Bennett, as well as a number of other politicians released joint statements to mark the anniversary of the report, including Women and Gender Equality Minister Maryam Monsef, Justice Minister David Lametti, Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller, Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault and Public Safety Minister Bill Blair.

In it, they said violence against Indigenous women is an “ongoing national tragedy” that governments are working to address.

ALSO READ: Online threats, racism causing fear for Indigenous women: MMIWG commissioner

While work on a national action plan continues, the ministers list a number of federal initiatives already in place to begin addressing issues identified in the inquiry’s interim report, which was released in 2017, and the final report’s calls for justice.

Those initiatives include: legislation to preserve Indigenous languages, legislation to give Indigenous communities control over their own child-welfare systems and the elimination of gender discrimination in the Indian Act.

“We recognize there is much more work to do and are committed to taking concrete actions that will help keep Indigenous women, girls, LGBTQ and two-spirit people safe and address the disempowering effects of colonization,” the ministers said.

READ MORE: Memories of trauma, assault and resilience shared at MMIWG inquiry in B.C.

“We will continue our work with First Nations, Inuit and Metis people, and with provincial, territorial and municipal partners to respond to the calls for justice by putting in place a national action plan that is distinctions-based, regionally relevant, accountable and one in which outcomes are measured and the plan regularly adapted to ensure progress.”

Whitman said the delay doesn’t mean she has abandoned hope that the government will release a plan in the near future.

“We are willing to do whatever is necessary to help make that happen. Although the government may have abandoned Indigenous women and their families, we will not.”

– with files from The Canadian Press


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Indigenous

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

United Church benefits from goodwill of Magpies business owners

Considerable donation of items made after move from former Willow Street shop

Recognizing exceptional professionalism on World Teachers’ Day

COVID has brought an unprecedented change to the education system

B.C. salmon farms challenge activists’ demands for site closures

News reporting also unfair, inaccurate and distorted

Blitterswyk awarded another significant scholarship

The honours just keep coming for Chemainus Secondary School 2020 grad class valedictorian

Killer whales cause a scene

WHALE OF A TALE Art Carlyle captured these images of killer whales… Continue reading

B.C. counts 125 new COVID-19 cases, up to 1,284 active

No new deaths or health care facility outbreaks

Health Canada green-lights rapid COVID-19 test

Health Canada approved the BCube test from Hyris Ltd. in the United Kingdom Sept. 23

First Nations Health Authority chief medical officer concerned with rising COVID-19 cases

“There’s still so much we don’t know and we’re learning everyday about this particular virus.”

FINLAYSON: COVID-related job losses concentrated in urban areas… especially Metro Vancouver

The biggest job losses, in absolute terms, have been in Metro Vancouver

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

6 puppies rescued in mass seizure on Princeton farm die from illness: BC SPCA

Of the 97 distressed horses, cats and dogs seized, most of the puppies suffered from parvo

Action demanded over death of First Nations youth in Abbotsford group home

Family and Indigenous organizations push for thorough investigation

U.S. boater fined $1,000 for violation of Quarantine Act

49-year-old man entered Canada to visit girlfriend in Surrey

Most Read