Assembly of First Nations
One year after the release of the National Inquiry's final report on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG), Canada's governments must remain focused on ending violence against First Nations women, girls and LGBTQ2S. National Chief Perry Bellegarde of the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) said some delays are inevitable as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, but not any weakening of resolve.
"Canada urgently needs a National Action Plan and it needs the full and meaningful inclusion of survivors and families of missing and murdered First Nations Women and Girls," said the National Chief. "These people must be central to the development of the plan if it's to be effective. While we understand the need for this work to be done quickly, it must also be done the right way and it needs to bring about the fundamental changes called for in the National Inquiry's final report."
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the federal government announced it will not meet the June 2020 deadline for the release of the National Action Plan. The Assembly of First Nations, First Nations, and other Indigenous organizations have consistently called for immediate action to be taken by all governments.
Assembly of First Nations Ontario Regional Chief, RoseAnne Archibald, who holds the national portfolio for women's priorities, says now is the time for action and progress.
"As we mark one year since the delivery of the National Inquiry's Final Report, it is disappointing and frustrating to say the least that the release of the National Action Plan has been delayed. We must look at ways to continue this important work. As we get used to using new modes of communicating, we have demonstrated our ability to adjust, so too should our approach to rolling out the National Action Plan. We should be able to adjust and, at the very least, get a start on the Calls for Justice. We will continue to advocate for the families and ensure that the implementation of the National Action Plan is led by the family members and survivors," said Regional Chief Archibald. "With the pandemic exacerbating many of the social problems, including family violence, it is imperative that we move on the National Action Plan sooner rather than later."
Assembly of First Nations British Columbia Regional Chief, Terry Teegee, holds the justice portfolio for the Assembly of First Nations Executive Committee.
"I am happy to hear about the new funding for shelters for First Nations women, girls and LGBTQ2S across the country, but safe transportation, increased access to daycare, and mental health supports for women affected by abuse are also areas where action is needed and possible. As we witness the conflict in the United States, we know Canada needs justice reform and improved laws and policies to decrease incarceration rates and overrepresented First Nations people in the judicial system. Furthermore, the National Inquiry's tabled over 230 Calls for Justice that need to be implemented for true justice to flow. We need a better recognition of First Nations law, as well as appropriate supports for those experiencing poverty or those who are in and out of the sex trade," said Regional Chief Teegee.
"Making Canada safer for Indigenous women and girls will make the country safer for all," said the Chair of the Assembly of First Nations Women's Council, Chief Connie Big Eagle. "First Nations, especially the women and girls, want to see the National Action Plan completed and implemented as soon as possible. However, I believe the unique challenges First Nations on-reserve face must be addressed in a comprehensive way. The pandemic has posed challenges, but the National Action Plan needs to be completed and must address the core issues that lead to violence against First Nations women and girls: poverty, education gaps, the overrepresentation of our children in foster care, mental health needs, and the lack of healing support for those who experience sexual and physical abuse."
The Assembly of First Nations is the national organization representing First Nations citizens in Canada. Follow Assembly of First Nations on Twitter @AFN_Updates.