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

Morning Start: Big Bertha is the oldest cow to ever live

Your morning start for Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Summerland approves solar project

Despite community opposition, council voted 4-3 for Cartwright Mountain location

Two positive COVID-19 cases at Oliver farm

The risk of exposure to the general public related to this farm is considered to be low

Oliver Town Hall closed to public as staffer shows COVID-19 symptoms

One staff member at Oliver Town Hall is being tested for coronavirus

Penticton woman struck by mystery bullet

Woman suffers no major injuries; RCMP without any leads, investigation continues

B.C. records 62 new COVID-19 cases, two deaths since Friday

Province has just over 200 active cases

Canadians torn on scaling back COVID-19 benefits to save money: poll

Of those surveyed, 78 per cent said they were worried about the size of the deficit

Police search for suspect in assault on woman in downtown Kelowna

Kelowna police received a report a woman had been assaulted by an unknown man on July 12

‘Trauma equals addiction’ – why some seek solace in illicit substances

Part 2: Many pushed into addiction by ‘toxic stress,’ says White Rock psychologist

Hotel rooms for B.C. homeless too hasty, NDP government told

Businesses forced out, but crime goes down, minister says

Wage subsidy will be extended until December amid post-COVID reopening: Trudeau

Trudeau said the extension will ‘give greater certainty and support to businesses’

B.C. government prepares for COVID-19 economic recovery efforts

New measures after July consultation, Carole James says

Horoscopes for the week of July 13

Weekly horoscopes by Morgan Fava

Police keep eye on motorbike gang in Kelowna for poker run

The Throttle Lockers Motorcycle Club Poker Run was to have taken place on July 11

Most Read