Trudeau Government's Shameless Refusal to Fulfill Requirements of Calls for Justice

  Philip Fernandez

The annual February 14 marches to be held across Turtle Island to commemorate the lives of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) requires an assessment of where the government is at in fulfilling the Calls for Justice in the Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, released on June 3, 2019.

Sign outside Brady Road landfill in Winnipeg where remains of murdered Indigenous women were found.

The Final Report issued 231 "Calls for Justice" to end violence against Indigenous Women and Girls as well as 2SLGBTQQIA (Two-spirit, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer or Questioning, Intersex, Asexual) people. It pointed out that these Calls are legal imperatives under international human rights law and oblige governments to take appropriate action. To date, the Trudeau government has done little to answer the "Calls for Justice." Its disinterest insults the memories of the thousands of Indigenous women and girls and 2SLGBTQQIA people who have died or gone missing and their families, Indigenous Peoples and Canadians.

On May 23, 2022, the federal government released its own report on the progress made since the "Calls for Justice" were issued including on a National Action Plan it issued in 2021. It speaks of policy objectives for more actions that "need to be taken to end the violence against Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people" and that "More action is needed to address the colonial structures, institutions, agencies, legislation, services, policies, and programs, that continue to cause harms and loss of life, such as institutional and structural racism in health care, child welfare, policing, and the justice system."

The Native Women's Association of Canada (NWAC) pointed out on June 3, 2022 that the 2021 federal budget directed $2.2 billion over five years to address the genocide against Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA but that there were no plans and no indication as to how the money was going to be disbursed or what goals were going to be achieved. NWAC noted that the National Action Plan, as it was drafted, "was actually a recipe for inaction and the people represented by our organization are paying the price."

NWAC added that between 2015 and 2020 (under the Trudeau government's watch), Indigenous women accounted for 24 per cent of all female homicide victims in Canada even though they make up just five per cent of Canada's female population. "There is nothing to suggest that those crimes are on the decline," the organization adds.

The government expresses no shame when it confirms this in its own report: "According to a report published in 2022, Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people are still experiencing alarming rates of violence and are over-represented as victims of crime."

The fact is that its method of dealing with the Indigenous peoples is to undermine dealing with them on a nation-to-nation basis. Government agencies are setting up direct individual relations with people of Indigenous origin or deal only with often corrupt structures imposed by the Indian Act. For example, the fight for compensation for survivors of the genocidal residential and day schools is, like everything else, turned into a matter of lawsuits. These schools are in no small part responsible for the conditions in which Indigenous women and girls are considered fair game.

On January 21, the federal government announced that it had agreed to settle a $2.8 billion class-action lawsuit with 325 First Nations seeking reparations for the loss of language and culture caused by the genocidal program of Indian residential schools. This settlement is said to give compensation at the band level, a structure that arises from the Canadian government's Indian Act. A previous settlement for survivors of day schools, or day scholars, was reached out of court in 2021 and paid individuals $10,000 each.

Meanwhile, the conditions remain dire on all fronts as the custodians of the racist colonial Canadian state and its constitutional order absolve themselves of any responsibility for taking immediate and appropriate action as laid out in the 231 "Calls for Justice" put forward in the MMIWG National Inquiry's Final Report. 

To read the Calls for Justice click here.

A ceremony was held January 19, 2023, at the Brady Road landfill site in Winnipeg and 101 red dresses were hung along the fence.

( Photo: Southern Chiefs Organization)

This article was published in
Volume 53 Number 2 - February 2023

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