Advocates frustrated with inaction over missing and murdered Indigenous women
Three years after the final report into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls was released, advocates say little has been accomplished to prevent further deaths.
On June 3, 2019, the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls published its final report on the matter, titled “Reclaiming Power and Place.”
The national inquiry called the thousands of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls in Canada a "genocide" and included 231 "calls for justice" in its report.
But on the anniversary of the report’s release, deaths continue to happen and advocates are calling on the federal government to fulfill its commitment to end violence against Indigenous women.
In Winnipeg, three Indigenous women were murdered in the last half of May, the most recent involving Tessa Perry, a 31-year-old mother to four children.
"It's really difficult to find the words to describe what is happening here in Winnipeg," said Hilda Anderson-Pyrz, chair of the National Family and Survivors Circle and Perry's aunt, during a vigil honouring her niece.
"We've had three tragic losses of Indigenous women within a 10-day span. It's very heartbreaking to the community and very devastating to the families that are impacted, and it diminishes hope that there's change occurring."
Despite representing about five per cent of Canada's population, Indigenous people made up 28 per cent of all homicide victims in 2020. The homicide rate for Indigenous men and women compared to non-Indigenous men and women was nearly eight and 5.5 times greater, respectively.
"It's very disconcerting to realize that after three years, we're still having these discussions and conversations about what is happening in our streets, and it is very alarming still to this day that we have to gather together to mourn the lives of Indigenous women," said Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Grand Chief Garrison Settee, who has been to two vigils in the last two weeks.
"This is not acceptable. This can't be the norm."
On Friday, the Native Women's Association of Canada released an analysis saying that while the federal government has committed funding, little has been done to directly support survivors and families, calling the National Action Plan "a recipe for inaction."
The federal government also released its own progress report on Friday, saying progress has been made but more work lies ahead.
"That people basically have to compete for it, apply for it, it comes in late, it's not enough. We're not seeing that transformational change, government providing the resources to communities to do the work that needs to be done," Lynne Groulx, CEO of the Native Women's Association of Canada, said.
"So we're very concerned that we're not headed in the right direction that way, and that the government is not making this the priority that it really needs to make it."
Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations Marc Miller said while the National Action Plan came with $2 billion, they also have to look at the reports' conclusions.
"This isn't a day to make excuses, particularly since we've seen increased violence against women during the pandemic, but really to move forward acknowledging that criticism and the work that needs to be done," he said.
With files from The Canadian Press