No timeline for federal 'action plan' responding to MMIWG inquiry
Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett, left, and Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada David Lametti make their way to speak with the media following the release of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women report in Gatineau, Que. on Monday June 3, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Published Saturday, June 8, 2019 7:00AM EDT
OTTAWA – The federal government’s promise to present an action plan in response to the missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls inquiry may not come to fruition before the fall federal election. Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett says that the plan will be ready and rolled out when Indigenous people think it is ready.
“We will have an action plan where our partners think it's adequate… we will work with our partners, and we will get to that place where we will have a roadmap for the concrete actions to stop this tragedy,” Bennett said in an interview on CTV’s Question Period.
On June 3 the final report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls was presented. It concluded that Canada’s history and process of colonization have perpetuated violations of Indigenous people, including “assimilationist and genocidal government laws” leading to high rates of violence against Indigenous women, girls, two-spirit and LGBTQ people.
The report included 231 recommendations for change or “calls for justice,” including creating an ombudsperson and tribunal for Indigenous and human rights, long term funding for education and awareness programs related to preventing violence, policing and criminal justice reforms, and stopping the apprehension of children based on poverty and cultural bias.
Speaking during the ceremony, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau vowed that the federal government will no longer fail Indigenous people as it has in the past.
He said the government will review the 1,200-page report and develop a national action plan to address the violence against Indigenous women, girls, two-spirit and LGBTQ people.
“The work of the commissioners, the stories they have collected, and the calls for justice they have put forward, will not be placed on a shelf to collect dust,” Trudeau said.
Asked when the plan, or a timeline for it would be known, Bennett said “the important thing is that the commission asked us to develop a national action plan with our partners.”
“We will put in place a process right now to be able to get to that process for us to develop a national action plan… you have to start by starting,” Bennett said.
This coming week she plans to hold a roundtable discussion with Indigenous women’s organizations.
Bennett said that the government will also include the perspectives of the Inuit, First Nations, and Metis people, as well as family members, victims, and survivors of violence in developing the plan. She said that provinces, territories, and municipalities also have a role to play in making the hundreds of recommendations a reality.
She also pointed to steps the government has already taken as part of the broader push for reconciliation, including establishing a new nation-to-nation dynamic, lifting drinking water advisories, and advancing legislation related to supporting Indigenous languages and child welfare. Bennett said that she is confident that the policies the government has been pursuing are starting to “turn the page.”
On Monday, Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer said that if his party was to form government, it would develop and implement a national action plan to “achieve measurable improvements,” such as standardizing police case protocols.
During the interview, Bennett defended Trudeau not immediately using the word “genocide” by saying that nobody expected he would comment on “leaks,” even though the report had been made public by the time he spoke at the closing ceremony. Bennett was referencing the fact that the final report was obtained by various news agencies in the days leading up to the ceremony.
Asked if she thinks the genocide is ongoing, Bennett said the report pointed to evidence of historic wrongs, but that “women and girls are still going missing and that we actually have to stop this tragedy.”