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

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.

[gps-image name=”21740567_web1_21204658.jpg”]

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.”

[gps-image name=”21740567_web1_21203220.jpg”]

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

Police investigation occurring near Black Rooster Pub and Grill in Castlegar

Three police officers and three RCMP vehicles were at the scene on Thursday afternoon

RDCK to implement new emergency alert notification system

System also includes sends alerts for water advisories

From baseball stars to forest fires: Southeast Fire Centre water bomber has an interesting past

Tanker 489 is stationed in Castlegar this year, but in the 1960s it belonged to the L.A. Dodgers.

Two search and rescue calls involving children end with happy outcomes

The incidents took place in Trail and Salmo area on July 5 and 6

Trail RCMP officer accused of criminal harassment, forcible entry

BCPS: The charges against Murchie date between 2017 and 2020

B.C. identifies 20 new COVID-19 cases, travellers specified in count

Pandemic total 3,028 cases, 51 people from outside Canada

Filing deadline in RCMP sexual-harassment class-action extended due to COVID-19

Plaintiffs now have until January 2021 to submit claims for up to $222,000

Jamie Bacon pleads guilty to charge in Surrey Six case

The plea brings an end to a complex legal case that has spanned more than a decade

Hefty undeclared driver charges piling up, ICBC warns customers

Average extra penalty $2,971 after an at-fault accident

Survey, hotline launched amid probe into racist blood-alcohol guessing game at B.C. hospital

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond has been appointed to lead an investigation by Health Minister Adrian Dix

B.C. appeals judge’s decision to leave three clubhouses in Hells Angels hands

The province has filed two notices of appeal related to the B.C. Supreme Court decision

Conservation officers relocate Spirit bear known to roam northwestern B.C.

Bear roamed valley north of Terrace for many years

B.C. premier applauds call to decriminalize drug possession

Police shouldn’t struggle with health issues, Horgan says

Indigenous leader Ed John pleads not guilty to historical sex charges

Ed John’s lawyer entered the plea by telephone on behalf of his client

Most Read