Statement from Minister Bennett, Minister Monsef, Minister Lametti, Minister Miller

From: Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada

The Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, Carolyn Bennett, Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Rural Economic Development, Maryam Monsef, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, David Lametti, Minister of Indigenous Services, Marc Miller, Minister of Canadian Heritage, Steven Guilbeault, and Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, Bill Blair, issued the following statement today:

“As we mark the one-year anniversary of the final report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, we remember and honour those daughters, mothers, grandmothers, aunties and LGBTQ and Two-Spirit people, who were taken from us, and the survivors and family and community members, whose lives have been forever changed.

Violence towards First Nations, Inuit, and Métis women and girls, LGBTQ and Two-Spirit people is an ongoing national tragedy that all governments are working together to address.

The National Inquiry was established as a result of the longstanding and ongoing work of the families, survivors of violence, allies and organizations who advocated for the safety of Indigenous women and girls, LGBTQ and Two-Spirit people. It is the first truly national inquiry with investigative powers and required all jurisdictions to respond to the findings.

Our government has made the safety and security of Indigenous women and girls, LGBTQ and Two-Spirit people a priority. Important federal initiatives have been put in place to begin addressing issues identified in the Inquiry’s interim report and in the Calls for Justice. These initiatives include:

  • legislation respecting Indigenous languages;
  • legislation on supporting First Nations, Inuit and Métis children, youth and families;
  • eliminating gender discrimination from the Indian Act
  • Family Information Liaison Units and community-based supports;
  • support for communities from coast-to-coast-to-coast with commemoration initiatives;
  • significant investments in distinctions based housing strategies for First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples
  • a series of independent research projects into promising police policies and practices have been completed to help foster more trusting relationships between police and the Indigenous people they serve; and
  • as part of our larger efforts to eradicate human trafficking, the government has funded 41 organizations that serve Indigenous communities.

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 dis-empowering effects of colonization. We will continue to work with all Canadians to call out and address the systemic sexism and racism in our society.

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed and exacerbated many of the issues highlighted in the final report, including family violence and lack of access to services. We recognize the need for women, LGBTQ and Two-Spirit people, children, elders and young people to be able to reach out and have access to shelters, particularly during this health crisis, and we are grateful to the grassroots and Indigenous leadership who are working every day to keep their communities safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The emergence of the pandemic has necessitated a different way of working with our provincial, territorial and Indigenous partners on a National Action Plan. We continue to engage on the co-development of the Plan through virtual discussions, sharing proven practices, identifying gaps and challenges, and learning from one another, while we forge partnerships to support the transformative change needed to end this national tragedy.

As we move forward, during this pandemic and beyond, we will continue to take action to address the issues identified in the final report, to recognize and honour missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, LGBTQ and Two-Spirit people, and to support the healing of families, survivors and First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities.

We will continue our work with First Nations, Inuit and Métis 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.

In responding to the National Inquiry, we are breaking new ground with provincial, territorial, municipal and Indigenous partners in support of transformative change to ensure the safety and security of Indigenous women, girls, LGBTQ and Two-Spirit people wherever they live.

If you are facing violence in your home, and require immediate emotional assistance, we urge you to reach out to the National Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Inquiry Crisis Line, which is available 24/7 at 1-844-413-6649.

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