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Ontario marks First Anniversary of Inquiry Report on missing and murdered Indigenous Women and Girls


TORONTO, ON., June 3, 2020 — Greg Rickford, Ontario Minister of Indigenous Affairs, and Jill Dunlop, Associate Minister of Children and Women’s Issues, issued the following statement on this important date:

“As we mark the one-year anniversary of the Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, Ontario continues to address the root causes of violence against First Nation, Métis, and Inuit women, girls, and LGBTQ2S people.

To help with Ontario’s response to the Final Report, our government established an Indigenous Women’s Advisory Council. Its members will provide much-needed advice to address human trafficking as well as child, youth and family well-being for Indigenous people.

In partnership with the Ontario Native Women’s Association, Ontario also held engagement sessions on the National Inquiry’s Calls for Justice with Indigenous communities, organizations, leaders, and experts in violence prevention. This will ensure our approach is informed by a wide variety of Indigenous voices.

Dr. Dawn Lavell-Harvard, Ph.D
President, Ontario Native Women’s Association

As part of Ontario’s overall response to the report’s Calls for Justice, in March the province says they launched a new, comprehensive strategy to combat the problem of human trafficking. Indigenous-specific initiatives are integrated throughout the strategy to help protect vulnerable women, children and youth and address the needs of First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities, organizations, and frontline workers.

The province says they know the COVID-19 pandemic has increased the risk of violence for some Indigenous women and children and made access to support more challenging. And this is why the Ontario government is investing $10 million in emergency funding to support organizations delivering social services to vulnerable First Nations individuals and families. The province says further funding to support victims of gender-based violence and human trafficking during the pandemic will ensure a range of critical supports remain available to those who need them most.

The National Inquiry and its final report have brought the issues of violence against First Nation, Métis, and Inuit women, girls, and LGBTQ2S people to the forefront, and together Ontario along with all the other provinces as well as the federal government must continue the momentum for change. The Ontario government vows it “will continue to respond to the report’s Calls for Justice by working in partnership with Indigenous leaders, justice partners, community groups, service providers and others to enhance violence prevention and access to services. By working together, we can support Indigenous women and girls’ empowerment and help secure a future free from violence.”

Meanwhile, the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC), the most prominent Indigenous women’s organization in Canada issued a scathing report card Wednesday to mark the one year anniversary of the release of the inquiry’s final report and unveiled its own strategy on what Ottawa should do.

Among its requests, NWAC told CBC News it is asking Ottawa to immediately:

  • Create a national task force with independent investigators to review unresolved files of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.
  • Develop a national database of cases.
  • Appoint an independent mechanism to report to Parliament annually on implementation of recommendations.
  • Establish a national campaign to prevent racism and sexualized stereotypes.

The Ontario Provincial Police told CBC that it has formed a Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Team to review the inquiry’s final report and internally address its recommendations. The OPP said in the CBC report that “it’s involved in consultations on creating a national strategy and it’s already implemented some changes, such as more cultural awareness training and engagement with the Indigenous communities it serves.”

The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, the national policing organization asked by the inquiry to develop a national strategy by developing unified terminology and coding of cases, told CBC News that improving the consistency of reporting by police agencies across the country and addressing gaps in data collection remains a goal.

“We must find a solution that is flexible enough to achieve our reporting goals without creating a labour-intensive process for our police teams,” said a spokesperson for the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police (CACP). 

Meanwhile, the CBC says the RCMP is consulting with the federal government to develop a national action plan to respond to the inquiry’s recommendations and is working with various federal departments, Indigenous groups and advisory councils on next steps.

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