Canada has an obligation to end violence against Indigenous women and girls

Speaker: Ms. May
Time: 07/12/2022 21:56:37
Context: Debate

Mme Elizabeth May (Saanich—Gulf Islands, PV): Madame la Présidente, c’est encore un honneur de prendre la parole ce soir pour ce débat tellement grave, sombre et important.

I am here this evening on the traditional territory of the Kanien’kehà:ka, an area known as Montreal, within the Haudenosaunee Confederacy. In the time I have, reflecting on all the important speeches given tonight, I want to focus on what we were told in the Inquiry on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls and Two-Spirit people-plus.

The hon. member from northern Manitoba just was mentioning that, in looking at this debate, we have a question of what we have done in relation to those calls for justice. I am struck by, two and a half years from the calls for justice, how little we actually look at what the inquiry told us to do.

C’était tellement clair, dans le rapport d’enquête. La première chose que tout le monde, chaque Canadien et Canadienne, a l’obligation de faire, c’est de lire le rapport.

The Assistant Deputy Speaker (Mrs. Alexandra Mendès): We received advice and instructions, sitting in the Grand Hall of the peoples in the Museum of History on that crowded June day, in receiving this very important report. The commissioner said, “Every Canadian, please read it.” We should take stock: Have we read it? Do we understand what it said?

Obviously, the killing of indigenous women and girls continues and accelerates. The recent killings, the charges laid in Manitoba in Winnipeg, and the four women killed in that serial killing remind us, if we did not need reminding before, that we have not responded to the report of the Inquiry on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. What did they tell us to do? They told us to read the report, accept that this is a genocide and move on to actually implementing the recommendations.

We just refer to a few of those recommendations that we fight for, many of us in this place, every day. One of the recommendations of the inquiry was to bring in a guaranteed livable income to eradicate poverty. The reason so many indigenous women and girls and men are vulnerable to killings and vulnerable to violence is that they are poor. Economic injustice as well as racism are at the heart of why so many indigenous women and girls go missing. The inquiry called for justice. Bring in a guaranteed livable income.

It also called for us to end what are called man camps by indigenous women and girls. They are large construction projects, usually dedicated to resource extraction, the resource extraction itself violating the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and the man camps. I know it has been controversial and people who work in those industries say “Don’t paint us all as violent criminals”. No, but we recognize that proximity to large camps full of workers and that men who are away from their families are subject, themselves, to trauma and addiction are conditions that lead to the increased vulnerability of indigenous women nearby. That was an inquiry recommendation and we have expanded the man camps instead of ending them.

Another key recommendation was that we move to provide supports for indigenous women and girls who have been the victims of violence, including that there be trauma counsellors and that there be assistance to get through the criminal justice system. These are important recommendations.

I want to draw our attention to another area where there is no mystery as to how indigenous women and girls were killed. They were killed by the police. Chantel Moore was killed in June 2020. She was a Nuu-chah-nulth woman from Vancouver Island who had recently moved to Edmundston, New Brunswick. There is no question as to how she died. She died at the hands of a police officer on a wellness check. In the intersection between mental health responses and police, far too many vulnerable women and indigenous women end up in a morgue. That is not a wellness check and we need to really look at what happened, particularly in the case of Chantel Moore. I will say in this House again that I think she was murdered. The facts point in that direction and her family waits for answers.

We have an obligation in this place not to take note; we have to take action.