GATINEAU — Hundreds of people gathered in the Grand Hall at the Canadian Museum of History on Monday to mark the publication of the final report from the national inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, and to celebrate the ceremonial handover of the report to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the Canadian public.
The 1,200-page document is the product of more than three years of work, which included 15 community hearings — or truth gatherings — across the country, as well as testimony from survivors, families, and knowledge keepers.
The aim of the inquiry was to investigate and report on the “systemic causes of all forms of violence against Indigenous women and girls” and to examine the “underlying social, economic, cultural, institutional, and historical causes that contribute to the ongoing violence and particular vulnerabilities.”
In Canada, Indigenous women and girls face disproportionately high rates of violence. Although they make up just 4 per cent of the country’s total female population, they represent 10 per cent of all missing women in Canada, according to the Department of Justice.
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While the final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission issued 94 “calls to action,” this reports issues 231 “calls for justice.” They “arise from international and domestic human and Indigenous rights laws, including the Charter¸ the Constitution, and the Honour of the Crown.”
Many of the calls to justice are directed toward governments, but some are directed at Canadians themselves. Here are five of those calls — and ways in which, according to the report, regular citizens can put them into action.
“Denounce and speak out against violence against Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people”
The report states that, among the root causes of the disappearances and deaths are the socioeconomic conditions in which Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA (two-spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex, and asexual) people live and their lack of political influence.
The report urged Canadians to speak out against violence against Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA, although it did not recommend specific ways of doing so.“Stand and rise for every woman out there who is still marginalized, beaten, raped, murdered,” says medicine carrier Audrey Siegl, who is quoted in the document. “For all the little girls who grow up witnessing the violence. For the girls the violence is normalized for the way it was normalized for us. You know … what’s normal for me should never be normal for another human being.”
“Decolonize by learning the true history of Canada and Indigenous history in your local area”
The report emphasizes the importance of education and states that every group that the inquiry consulted called for “ongoing, mandatory training to equip front-line workers and management to serve and engage with Indigenous communities in culturally sensitive and safe ways.”
It recommends providing information to people in “law enforcement, justice and correctional systems, health care, education, child and family services, and natural resource industries” about the history of Indigenous peoples in Canada and the ongoing repercussions of colonialism. It also recommends cultural awareness training on the traditions, values, and worldviews of specific Indigenous communities.
Quoting from a consultation, held in Edmonton, on Métis perspectives, the report states, “We need to be seen as human … There is so much education that needs to happen … If police officers have never been taught about the history of why things are the way they are, that things didn’t just happen, then how can we expect them to know? We need to educate front-line workers about why women [engage in sex work], why they’ve fallen into alcohol and drugs. They don’t just fall into it for no reason or like that [with a snap of the fingers].”
“Develop knowledge and read the final report”
The final report is 1,200 pages long, but there is a 121-page executive summary available, too. The website also features a number of resources, such as video clips highlighting key pieces of testimony, multimedia galleries from several of the hearings, and a “Gallery of Artistic Expressions” that exhibits MMIWG-related creative works.
“Using what you have learned and some of the resources suggested, become a strong ally”
The calls to justice encourage Canadians to get involved — to stand up for and amplify the voices of MMIWG, survivors, and their families. The report suggests accessing such resources as Amnesty International’s 10 Ways to Be a Genuine Ally to Indigenous Communities, Lynn Gehl’s Ally Bill of Responsibilities, and the Montreal Urban Aboriginal Community Strategy Networks’ Indigenous Ally Toolkit.
“Help hold all governments accountable to act on the calls for justice”
In 2015, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission recommend that Canada implement 94 calls to action. Since then, the government has implemented just 10 — even though Trudeau stated that his government would “fully implement the Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, starting with the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.”
The MMIWG report states that it is the responsibility of all Canadians to hold the government accountable with regards to implementing its calls for justice. “Governments are not required to implement these recommendations. However, public attention and education, particularly through the ongoing legacy work of the public inquiry, help put pressure on governments wherever possible.”
If you find yourself in need of emotional assistance, please call 1-844-413-6649. It’s a national, toll-free, 24/7 support line that’s available to anyone requiring emotional assistance related to the subject of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.
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