Chief commissioner Marion Buller listens before the start of hearings at the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, in Smithers, B.C., on September 26, 2017. The long-awaited inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women has publicly released its findings including calls for health service providers to develop education programs for Indigenous children and youth on the issue of grooming for exploitation. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

All Canadians have a role to play in ending MMIW ‘genocide,’ report says

The report contains more than 200 recommendations to multiple levels of government

The chief commissioner of the inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls told survivors and families on Monday they have started to rewrite Canadian history.

While speaking at a ceremony at the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau, Que., former B.C. judge Marion Buller said she and her fellow commissioners are holding up a mirror to the country, reflecting what they heard from more than 2,300 people over two years of cross-country public hearings and work to gather evidence.

“Your truths cannot be unheard,” Buller told hundreds gathered in the grand hall of the museum, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

The ceremony marks the release of the much-anticipated inquiry report, which contains more than 200 recommendations to multiple levels of government.

It calls the violence against First Nations, Metis and Inuit women and girls a form of “genocide” and a crisis “centuries in the making.”

“These abuses and violations have resulted in the denial of safety, security, and human dignity,” the report says.

It also has calls for action in areas including justice and health, including that health-service providers develop programs that could help young people recognize the signs of being targeted for exploitation.

Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett, Indigenous Services Minister Seamus O’Regan and numerous other officials and advocates are also at the ceremony.

The report, the culmination of a three-year effort often beset by controversy, delays and personnel problems, documents what Buller calls “important truths” — including that Canadian laws and institutions are themselves to blame for violating the human rights of Indigenous Peoples.

“I hope that knowing these truths will contribute to a better understanding of the real lives of Indigenous people and the violations of their human and Indigenous rights when they were targeted for violence,” Buller writes in the report.

She also makes a point to acknowledge potential criticisms.

“Skeptics will be fearful and will complain that the financial cost of rebuilding is too great, that enough has been done, that enough money has been spent,” Buller writes.

“To them I say, we as a nation cannot afford not to rebuild. Otherwise, we all knowingly enable the continuation of genocide in our own country.”

The steps necessary to “end and redress this genocide” must be no less monumental than the combination of systems and actions that have been used to ”maintain colonial violence for generations,” the commissioners say.

The recommendations — framed in the report as “calls for justice” — include developing an effective response to human trafficking cases and sexual exploitation and violence, including in the sex industry. They are not optional, but constitute legal imperatives, the report says.

Additional calls include the need to establish a national Indigenous and human rights ombudsperson and a national Indigenous and human rights tribunal.

It also recommends the development of a national action plan to ensure equitable access to employment, housing, education, safety, and health care, as well as long-term funding for education programs and awareness campaigns related to violence prevention.

ALSO READ: Emotional ceremony to mark release of inquiry report on Indigenous women, girls

ALSO READ: Missing, murdered women inquiry urges review of justice system policies

The report also strongly focuses on the need for actors in the justice system and in police services to acknowledge that the historical and current relationship with Indigenous women, girls, and two-spirit people has been largely defined by “colonialism, racism, bias, discrimination, and fundamental cultural and societal differences.”

“We further call upon all police services and justice system actors to acknowledge that, going forward, this relationship must be based on respect and understanding, and must be led by, and in partnerships with, Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA (two-spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex, asexual) people.”

Missing and murdered Indigenous women are believed to number in the thousands in Canada, but the report says that despite the commission’s best efforts to quantify the extent of the tragedy, ”no one knows an exact number.”

In 2005, the Native Women’s Association of Canada created a database tracking cases and produced a 2010 report documenting 582 missing and murdered Indigenous women. In 2014, the RCMP released a national overview and pegged the number of cases between 1980 and 2012 at nearly 1,200. Other unverified estimates are far higher.

Responding to the conclusions is the responsibility not only of federal and provincial governments and law enforcement agencies, but all Canadians in both the immediate and long-term, the report says.

“Individuals, institutions, and governments can all play a part … We encourage you, as you read these recommendations, to understand and, most importantly, to act on yours.”

Kristy Kirkup, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Geotechnical work set to get underway at Rossland Museum

Crews will be working at the museum from June 1 to 12

Trail Smoke Eaters owner awaits word on BCHL future

Smoke Eaters owner Rich Murphy is hopeful that the BCHL will return to the ice in the fall

City of Rossland asks motorists to be mindful of four bears roaming around Trail hill

The bears have been seen multiple times along the highway this month

Young farmers find a home through land-matching program

Young Agrarians links would-be farmers with landowners who have land to spare

B.C. legislature coming back June 22 as COVID-19 emergency hits record

Pandemic restrictions now longer than 2017 wildfire emergency

B.C.’s essential grocery, hardware store employees should get pandemic pay: retail group

Only B.C.’s social, health and corrections workers are eligible for top-ups

Edmonton, Vancouver and Toronto vying to be NHL hubs, but there’s a catch

The NHL unveiled a return-to-play plan that would feature 24 teams

B.C. sees 9 new COVID-19 cases, one death as officials watch for new cases amid Phase Two

Number of confirmed active cases is at 244, with 37 people in hospital

Nanaimo senior clocked going 50 km/hr over limit says her SUV shouldn’t be impounded

RCMP say they can’t exercise discretion when it comes to excessive speeding tickets

Illicit-drug deaths up in B.C. and remain highest in Canada: chief coroner

More than 4,700 people have died of overdoses since B.C. declared a public health emergency in early 2016

CMHC sees declines in home prices, sales, starts that will linger to end of 2022

CMHC said average housing prices could fall anywhere from nine to 18 per cent in its forecast

B.C. Paralympian named to Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame

Three-time world and Paralympic gold medalist Sonja Gaudet is part of 11-member class

Restorative pole project underway in Edgewood

The pole was made almost 50 years ago to pay respect to local First Nations

Most Read