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Open letter to Minister Bennett on the urgent need for a comprehensive response to the National Inquiry report

    May 03, 2019

    PDF version

    May 3, 2019

    Hon. Carolyn Bennett

    Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs

    Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada

    10 rue Wellington

    Gatineau, QC K1A 0H4

    CC: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau; Minister of Justice David Lametti; Minister of International Development and Minister for Women and Gender Equality; Minister of Indigenous Services Seamus O’Regan

    RE: Urgent need for comprehensive response to National Inquiry report

    Dear Minister Bennett,

    The Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls will be submitted to the public on June 3, exactly one month from today.

    Indigenous people who have experienced violence; family members and loved ones of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls and two-spirit people; Indigenous organizations and notably Indigenous women’s organizations; civil society organizations; and the thousands of people who shared their truths with the National Inquiry anxiously await release of this report, and expect swift action to fully implement its recommendations to concretely address what the UN Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) has determined are “grave violations” of the human rights of Indigenous women, girls, and two-spirit people.

    We are concerned that some of the recommendations in the National Inquiry’s interim report published a year ago remain unimplemented, including the recommendation to launch a national task force to review and reopen cases of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, and two-spirit people. This inaction cannot be repeated when the National Inquiry’s final report is released next month.

    Far too often, public inquiries initiated with the best of intentions fail to produce the transformative change that is needed because the recommendations are allowed to gather dust on the shelves of government. In fact, prior to the National Inquiry, a coalition of Indigenous women’s organizations, human rights groups, individual legal experts, and the Legal Strategy Coalition on Violence Against Indigenous Women, identified more than 700 recommendations to prevent violence against Indigenous women, girls, and two-spirit people from previous inquiries that have almost all gone unimplemented.

    To address the scale and the severity of violence experienced by Indigenous women, girls, and two-spirit people, and recognizing the need for action in this session of Parliament, we call on you to:

    Provide an official government response to the National Inquiry’s final report before the House of Commons rises in June;

    Identify a high-level federal focal point, who has the trust of family members and loved ones of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, and two-spirit people, to coordinate the government response to the report and implementation of its recommendations;

    Develop an implementation plan for the National Inquiry’s recommendations across all jurisdictions in Canada that is effective, coordinated, transparent, and accountable, and that provides for full and proper engagement with First Nations, Inuit, and Métis women, girls, and two-spirit people in the design and implementation of measures;

    To support and bolster cross-jurisdictional implementation of the National Inquiry’s recommendations, immediately commit to building upon the Federal Strategy to Prevent and Address Gender-Based Violence by developing a National Plan to Prevent and Address Gender-Based Violence;

    Demonstrate a commitment to implementation that includes full and proper engagement with First Nations, Inuit, and Métis women, girls, and two-spirit people; and

    Provide clarity to family members and loved ones of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, and two-spirit people on measures that will be taken to engage with law enforcement and address situations where individual cases have not been properly investigated.

    For years you supported the call for a National Inquiry to address violence against Indigenous women, girls, and two-spirit people, and we appreciate your commitment to undertaking the National Inquiry. We call on you to demonstrate your commitment to the National Inquiry and your responsibility to all the Métis, Inuit, and First Nations women, girls, and two-spirit people who have experienced violence, and to all those who shared their truth with the National Inquiry, by concretely, publicly, and promptly committing the government of Canada to implementing the solutions identified by the National Inquiry to end this human rights crisis.

    Sincerely,

    Aboriginal Shelters of Ontario

    Aboriginal Women’s Action Network

    Amnesty International Canada (English)

    Amnistie internationale Canada Francophone

    Association of Native Child and Family Service Agencies of Ontario

    Awo Taan Healing Lodge Society (Alberta)

    BC Government and Service Employees’ Union of British Columbia

    BC Assembly of First Nations

    BC Federation of Labour

    British Columbia Civil Liberties Association

    Canada Without Poverty

    Canadian Feminist Alliance for International Action

    Congress of Aboriginal Peoples

    Downtown Eastside Women's Centre

    Eastern Door Indigenous Women's Association

    Ending Violence Association of BC

    Families for Justice

    Femmes Autochtones du Québec

    First United Church Community Ministry Society

    Independent First Nations

    Institute for the Advancement of Aboriginal Women

    Iskwewuk Ewichiwitochik (Women Walking Together)

    Liard Aboriginal Women's Society

    Manitoba Moon Voices Inc

    New Brunswick Aboriginal Peoples Council

    Pacific Association of First Nations Women

    Union of BC Indian Chiefs

    Vancouver Aboriginal Community Policing Centre

    Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter

    WAVAW Rape Crisis Centre

    West Coast LEAF

    Dr. Pamela Palmater, Chair in Indigenous Governance, Ryerson University

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