Ottawa pledges to support vulnerable populations in response to MMIWG survey

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau answers a question during Question Period in the House of Commons on June 2, 2021 in Ottawa.

Adrian Wyld / The Canadian Press

The federal government is pledging increased funding for community organizations that support vulnerable populations as part of its official response to the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.

The Globe and Mail has obtained a copy of the federal response, which will be released on Thursday, the second anniversary of the inquiry’s publication of its 231 appeals for justice. These recommendations include a national action plan to address violence against women, girls and people of different genders.

The Liberal government, which created the national inquiry in 2016 to examine why this group is disproportionately affected by violence, initially said it would respond with a plan of action within a year. He said last year that the schedule would be delayed due to the pandemic.

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The federal response largely contains commitments to work with Indigenous organizations in a wide range of areas, but gives little detail on exactly what Ottawa is proposing or who would receive funding.

Ottawa’s contribution is intended to be part of the national action plan. Response document indicates high rates of violence experienced by Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA + [two spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex and/or asexual] people stress the urgent need to ensure their safety and security.

“The Government of Canada recognizes that threats to personal well-being and safety are not only physical threats such as violence, but also include poverty, lack of access to affordable, adequate and safe housing, environmental threats, political repression, social unrest, denial of cultural practices. , disease, food insecurity and human rights violations, ”the document said.

The response commits to increasing funding to indigenous organizations and communities to help prevent human trafficking and improve victim services.

A section also promises to jointly develop legislation that will ensure First Nations police forces are well funded. Ottawa has already pledged to jointly develop a legislative framework that recognizes First Nations policing as an essential service.

The response also states that the RCMP will reform its recruiting practices, collect and report race-based data, and establish an office for collaboration, co-development and accountability between the RCMP and Indigenous people “to enhance community engagement” and support the “provision of appropriate education and training. using an aboriginal lens.

On health care, the government has said it will jointly develop “distinctions-based Indigenous health legislation” that will give Indigenous peoples greater control over the design and delivery of funded health services. by the federal government. “Honors-based” means specifically tailored to Inuit, Métis and First Nations. The government has already made a commitment to jointly develop Indigenous health legislation.

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The document also states that Canada must ensure that indigenous women, girls and people of diverse genders are “empowered, respected and that their human security is preserved through the elimination of socio-economic threats to the good. being and personal safety ”.

On Wednesday, the National Family and Survivors Circle (NFSC), which includes Indigenous family members and survivors from diverse backgrounds, presented Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett with a 50-page document that includes calls for justice in the areas of culture, health, welfare, human security and the legal system. The NFSC worked with Ms. Bennett’s Department and Northern Affairs Canada as part of the government’s response to the investigation.

NFSC co-chair Hilda Anderson-Pyrz told The Globe and Mail that it is really important for the federal government to take action, adding that accountability mechanisms are also needed.

“Immediate action is needed and any delay in action is too long,” she said.

Governments can “no longer work in isolation” to fight genocide, she said, adding that all levels must act.

On Tuesday, the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) said it believed the federal government’s response to the inquiry was “fundamentally flawed” and released its own plan. The organization said it has 65 actions it will take.

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The measures are budgeted at $ 30 million per year, which the group wants to raise from governments and other donors. They include what NWAC has called “resilience lodges” to deliver health, wellness, language and culture programs to Indigenous women, girls and people of diverse genders. The plan also includes justice initiatives, such as the development of training for the police focused specifically on missing and murdered indigenous women and girls, and gender-based violence against indigenous women.

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