Les Femmes Michif Otipemisiwak - Women of the Métis Nation
The National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls has released its final report. The mandate of the National Inquiry was to look into and report on the systemic causes of all forms of violence against Indigenous women and girls, including sexual violence. The long-anticipated report was to provide insight and recommendations on institutional policies and practices to address violence, including those that are effective in reducing violence and increasing safety.
While Les Femmes Michif Otipemisiwak has been critical of the National Inquiry process, at issue was specifically the matter of Métis Women, girls, persons identifying as LGBTQ2S+ and families not being given due consideration of the unique scenarios presenting Métis people across the homeland. Our criticisms were in the interest of insuring the story is told from our unique lens.
Les Femmes Michif Otipemisiwak acknowledges and honours all the Métis women, girls, and family members who shared their stories and experiences with the National Inquiry; the records and testimony of their strength and resilience is one of the legacies of the National Inquiry that will stand the test of time.
The National Inquiry has failed its mandate for Métis Women and Girls. While the Final Report has 29 Métis-Specific Calls for Justice, none of these provide concrete and effective action that can be taken or include the identification and examination of practices that have been effective in reducing violence and increasing safety for Métis Women and Girls that the Inquiry was specifically directed to do in the Terms of Reference of the National Inquiry.
The recommendations in the report fall very short of what families of the missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls and LGBTQ2S people wanted to see in terms of investigations of the missing persons and investigating murders. Families do not want to feel that their loved ones have died in vain.
The majority of the Métis-Specific recommendations are equally applicable to First Nations or Inuit and do not respond to the unique challenges, needs, and realities of the Métis. Very few of the recommendations actually speak to working in partnership with Métis communities or organizations to remedy these gaps, or establishing a nation-to-nation, government-to-government approach. The Final Report contains numerous problematic statements and recommendations that actually undermine the self-determination actions of the Métis Nation to respect self-identification of Métis and completely ignores the Métis Nation Definition.
The Métis-Specific Calls for Justice reflect a superficial understanding of the Métis Nation. While they provide a basis on which we can build, what is clear is that there is still much work to be done to make these meaningful or effective recommendations that can promote or achieve safety for Métis women and girls.
Melanie Omeniho, President of Les Femmes Michif Otipemisiwak states "We are relieved that the final report of the National Inquiry has been tabled. Now we can press forward with our work to advocate for systemic and whole of government approaches to ending violence against all Métis women and girls and LGBTQ2S+ people. We are in the final stages of report that will see us tell the story through our own eyes.
At the closing ceremony of the National Inquiry, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stated "you have my word that my government will turn the Inquiry's call for justice into real meaningful Indigenous-led action. We have failed you but we will fail you no longer" and "we will conduct a thorough review and we will conduct and implement a National Action plan to address violence against Indigenous women, girls, and LGBTQ and two-spirit people and will work with Indigenous partners to determine next steps'.
President Melanie Omeniho stated "I appreciate that Prime Minister Trudeau has vowed to work with Indigenous partners and have Indigenous people lead the way. Les Femmes Michif Otipemisiwak will continue to work with the government to develop the action plan that includes these as well as our own recommendations".
Les Femmes Michif Otipemisiwak is the voice of Métis women from across the homeland and its mandate is to ensure that Métis women are safe, connected, empowered and have the capacity to work with other Canadian and Métis organizations to help create the conditions for healthy, vibrant and productive communities throughout the Métis Nation.