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

Vernon's spring leaf pickup program is underway. (File photo)
Vernon rakes up residents’ bagged leaves

Pickup this week, must be in clear plastic bags

Public input on the City of Enderby’s proposed 2021 budget is open until 3:30 p.m. Monday, April 19, 2021. (City of Enderby photo)
Enderby’s proposed 2021 budget open for public input

The proposed spending plan includes a 2.2 per cent tax increase; public input open until Monday

Coldstream students took over the Your Letters page in the April 9, 2021, edition of the Vernon Morning Star to offer advice to adults about COVID-19. Interior Health took notice and offered their praise. (Vernon Morning Star)
Coldstream students’ COVID advice praised by Interior Health

Grade 2 and 3 classes from Coldstream Elementary took over the Morning Star’s Letters page April 9

Members of the Okanagan Screen Arts Society received a cheque for $1,500 Thursday, April 15, 2021. The funds are to help the society’s efforts as they prepare take over operation of the Vernon Towne Cinema at the end of July. (Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)
Vernon dealership gives Towne Cinema a lift

Vernon Watkin Motor Ford, in business for more than 100 years, donated to the theatre with nearly as long a history

Interior Health’s overdose prevention site in Vernon is saving lives. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
Vernon’s controversial overdose prevention site saving lives

Site sees fewer problems than expected, but some still want it moved

Flow Academy is located at 1511 Sutherland Avenue in Kelowna. (Michael Rodriguez - Capital News)
Black Press Media Weekly Roundup: Top headlines this week

Here’s a quick roundup of the stories that made headlines across the Okanagan, from April 11 to 16

A Western toadlet crosses the centre line of Elk View Road in Chilliwack on Aug. 26, 2010. A tunnel underneath the road has since been installed to help them migrate cross the road. Saturday, April 24 is Save the Frogs Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Progress File)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of April 18 to 24

Save the Frogs Day, Love Your Thighs Day and Scream Day are all coming up this week

An Extinction Rebellion Vancouver Island (XRVI) climate change event in 2019 saw a large crowd occupy the Johnson Street bridge. Black Press File Photo
‘In grief for our dying world’: B.C. climate activists embark on 4-day protest

Demonstrators will walk through Vancouver for the first two days before boarding a ferry Sunday morning

A vial of some of the first 500,000 AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses that Canada secured. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Carlos Osorio
Canada’s 2nd blood clot confirmed in Alberta after AstraZeneca vaccine

The male patient, who is in his 60s, is said to be recovering

Mervin Mascarenhas giving one of his pens to Honorary JP-MP. Premier David Burt of Bermuda. (Image: Mervin Mascarenhas)
Kelowna man who made $90K ‘Space Pen’ recognized by dignitaries, sheikhs

Mervin Mascarenhas is the first Canadian to grace the cover of Millennium Millionaire Magazine

The funeral of Britain’s Prince Philip in Windsor, England, on Saturday, April 17, 2021. Philip died April 9 at the age of 99. (Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP)
PHOTOS: Prince Philip laid to rest Saturday as sombre queen sits alone

The entire royal procession and funeral took place out of public view within the grounds of Windsor Castle

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and Premier John Horgan describe vaccine rollout at the legislature, March 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C. health minister says delay in Moderna vaccine ‘disappointing’

‘The sooner we get vaccines in people’s arms the better, and inconsistency in delivery is a consistent problem. This is simply a reality and not an issue of blame,’ Adrian Dix said Friday

(Police handout/Kamloops RCMP)
B.C. man dies in custody awaiting trial for Valentine’s Day robbery, kidnapping spree

Robert James Rennie, who was on the Kamloops RCMP’s most wanted list, passed away at the North Fraser Pretrial Centre in Coquitlam

Photos of Vancouver Canucks players are pictured outside the closed box office of Rogers Arena in downtown Vancouver Thursday, April 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Canucks to return to play Sunday versus Leafs after COVID-19 outbreak

The team has had 11 games postponed since an outbreak late last month

Most Read