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

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.”

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

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

A suspect has been arrested in connection with fires at Drinkwater Elementary (pictured) and École Mount Prevost. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Arson suspect arrested after fires at Cowichan Valley schools

Drinkwater Elementary and Mount Prevost schools hit within a week

Danielle Groenendijk raised more than twice her goal for Parkinson’s Canada. (Photo submitted)
VIU volleyball athlete doubles fundraising goal for Parkinson’s

Daily runs over 30 days by Groenendijk add up to 254 kilometres

Seven streets in downtown Duncan, including Station Street, will soon have new native names added to their signage. (Submitted graphic)
New street signs in Duncan in English and Hul’q’umi’num

Seven streets to get additional native names on signs

Possible COVID-19 exposures may have occurred at Alexander Elementary School on Jan. 13, 14 and 15. (Google Maps)
Alexander Elementary in Duncan announces possible COVID-19 exposures

Exposures may have occurred on Jan. 13, 14 and 15

North Cowichan to add three more off-leash dog areas in the new year. (File photo)
North Cowichan adds three new off-leash areas

Trial program runs through 2021, but not the summer months

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, vice-president of logistics and operations at the Public Health Agency of Canada, speaks at a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa, on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
B.C. records 500 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, 14 deaths

Outbreak at Surrey Pretrial jail, two more in health care

Vancouver Canucks’ Travis Hamonic grabs Montreal Canadiens’ Josh Anderson by the face during first period NHL action in Vancouver, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horvat scores winner as Canucks dump Habs 6-5 in shootout thriller

Vancouver and Montreal clash again Thursday night

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
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

A woman writes a message on a memorial mural wall by street artist James “Smokey Devil” Hardy during a memorial to remember victims of illicit drug overdose deaths on International Overdose Awareness Day, in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, on Monday, August 31, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. paramedics respond to record-breaking number of overdose calls in 2020

On the front lines, COVID-19 has not only led to more calls, but increased the complexity

Nanaimo RCMP are seeking the public’s help after a man allegedly assaulted a clerk at James General Store on Victoria Road on Jan. 18. (Submitted photo)
Suspect screams at customer then assaults store clerk in Nanaimo

RCMP asking for information about Jan. 18 incident at James General Store

Chartwell Malaspina Care Residence in Nanaimo. (News Bulletin file photo)
Two Nanaimo care-home residents have died during COVID-19 outbreak

Death reported Monday was the second related to Chartwell Malaspina outbreak, says Island Health

Rod Bitten of Union Bay won $500,000 in the Lotto Max draw on Jan. 15. Photo supplied
Vancouver Island electrician gets shocking surprise with $500K Extra win

Rod Bitten has been hard at work with home renovations, which is… Continue reading

Eighteen-year-old Aidan Webber died in a marine accident in 2019. He was a Canadian Junior BMX champion from Nanaimo. (Submitted)
Inadequate safety training a factor in teen BMX star’s workplace death in 2019

Aidan Webber was crushed by a barge at a fish farm near Port Hardy

Oyster River Fire Rescue members were called out to a suspicious fire in Black Creek. Two vehicles parked at a private residence were destroyed by fire. Photo courtesy Oyster River Fire Rescue
Suspicious fire destroys two vehicles at Vancouver Island residence

Oyster River Fire Rescue personnel were dispatched to a fire at a… Continue reading

Most Read