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Canada'Truths are piling up': The legal and moral imperatives behind the MMIWG's calls for justice

13:00  09 june  2019
13:00  09 june  2019 Source:   cbc.ca

'If you're not outraged, you're not paying attention': MMIWG inquiry report includes 231 recommendations

'If you're not outraged, you're not paying attention': MMIWG inquiry report includes 231 recommendations The National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls says it's only begun to scratch the surface when it comes to violence against Indigenous women and girls. The final report from the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) will be publicly released on Monday. CBC has obtained a leaked copy. It makes 231 recommendations, termed "calls for justice" in the report, in response to what it says is a "Canadian genocide" spurred by "state actions and inactions rooted in colonialism and colonial ideologies.

231 ' imperative ' changes: The MMIWG inquiry' s calls for justice . 'These truths are piling up '. Like the Truth and Reconciliation Commission' s 2015 report, the national inquiry' s report acknowledges it Blackstock said the calls for justice might not be legally binding, but are certainly morally binding.

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'Truths are piling up': The legal and moral imperatives behind the MMIWG's calls for justice© Chantelle Bellrichard/CBC Commissioners Qajaq Robinson and Michèle Audette prepare to hand the inquiry's final report to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at a ceremony in Gatineau, Que., on June 3.

In the wake of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Firls' final report, attention is now turning toward whether its 231 recommendations will be acted upon.

On Monday, the national inquiry held its closing ceremony in Gatineau, Que., where it delivered its final report to government. The inquiry detailed what it found to be the root causes of the disproportionate amount of violence experienced by Indigenous women and girls and made 231 "Calls for Justice" to address them.

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The MMIWG inquiry wants to see a national police task force established to investigate unsolved cases of murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls. ' Truths are piling up ': The legal and moral imperatives behind the MMIWG ' s calls for justice . 'It's torturous': Young mother joins calls from

He called the owner of Right Off Da Boat B&B, who agreed to take him in for free. When he arrived in St. John's, he ran into a similar problem. ' Truths are piling up ': The legal and moral imperatives behind the MMIWG ' s calls for justice .

'Truths are piling up': The legal and moral imperatives behind the MMIWG's calls for justice© Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, left, holds a copy of the report presented to him by commissioners Marion Buller, centre, Michèle Audette, third from right, Brian Eyolfson, second from right, and Qajaq Robinson at the closing ceremony for the national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls in Gatineau, Que., on June 3.

The inquiry's commissioners have said the calls for justice are not merely recommendations but legal imperatives based in "international and domestic human and Indigenous rights laws, including the Charter, the Constitution and the Honour of the Crown."

During a news conference after the inquiry's closing ceremony, commissioner Qajaq Robinson elaborated on what it means to describe the calls for justice as legal imperatives.

'It's time for implementation': UN High Commissioner urges Ottawa to develop national MMIWG action plan

'It's time for implementation': UN High Commissioner urges Ottawa to develop national MMIWG action plan The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights is urging Canadian authorities to implement a plan to address violence against Indigenous women and girls. "We think we've got a good story to tell in terms of the investments we've made and the concrete actions to stop this national tragedy," Bennett said. "We said we wouldn't wait for the final report. I think we started investing right in 2016 with housing and water and education, and so I think it's really important that people understand we took this seriously right from the beginning and we will continue to act.

"These Calls for Justice represent important ways to end the genocide and to transform systemic and societal values that have worked to maintain Transportation improvements have since been put in place, but the MMIWG national inquiry' s final report calls for even more improvements, nationwide.

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"If we're talking to access to health — for example the calls for justice that there be holistic, wraparound health services in all communities and isolated communities — that isn't just a suggestion. It's because the people in those communities have a right to health, have a right to those services," she said.

'Truths are piling up': The legal and moral imperatives behind the MMIWG's calls for justice© Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press Cindy Blackstock, executive director of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society speaks at a news conference on Parliament Hill in 2016.

"You legally have to do it. It's not like we're asking you to come up with a new framework to understand what you have to do. You signed it already; you're just not implementing it."

Commissioner Michèle Audette said the rights the inquiry is talking about seem to be respected in southern Canada.

'Truths are piling up': The legal and moral imperatives behind the MMIWG's calls for justice© Provided by Canadian Broadcasting Corporation

"But when you live in my North... far, far away, there's no protection, no services, no accessibility. And it's still called Canada," she said.

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While the commissioners say the calls are rooted in existing legal commitments, the final report also states that "Governments are not required to implement these recommendations."

'These truths are piling up'

Like the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's 2015 report, the national inquiry's report acknowledges it will take all Canadians to assert their political pressure on institutions and governments to ensure substantive changes come about.

Cindy Blackstock, executive director of the First Nations and Family Caring Society, has been at the forefront of pushing government for equity for First Nations children in Canada.

The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal sided with the society and Assembly of First Nations in a 2016 ruling, finding that Canada discriminates against First Nations children on reserves by failing to provide them with the same level of child welfare services that exist elsewhere in Canada.

Three years later, and more than a decade since the initial complaint was filed, the case is still not resolved. There have been seven non-compliance orders issued by the tribunal since its ruling.

Premier Scott Moe disagrees with MMIWG inquiry's genocide finding

Premier Scott Moe disagrees with MMIWG inquiry's genocide finding Premier Scott Moe disagrees with the MMIWG inquiry's finding that genocide was committed by the state against Canada's Indigenous peoples from the colonial era to the present. The word has been up for debate by some since the report was released last week. This discourse dismisses the serious nature of missing and murdered Indigenous women and misses what's important — the recommendations and action moving forward, said freelance journalist and Indigenous affairs columnist Doug Cuthand. He wrote a column about the use of the word — and the push back against it. "It's all focused on this one word — and that's a mistake​," Cuthand said.

Blackstock says, looking at the calls put forward by the national inquiry, the most important impact the final report can have is to change the collective Canadian consciousness. In her view, governments don't make change, they respond to change.

'Truths are piling up': The legal and moral imperatives behind the MMIWG's calls for justice© Provided by Canadian Broadcasting Corporation

"All of these reports and all these truths are piling up in a way that makes it more and more difficult for people normalize the discrimination and to turn away from it," she said.

She said key indicators that change is happening will be a shift in public attitude. She said the public should also be looking for on-the-ground, immediate investments in things like safe shelter space for women fleeing violence.

Blackstock said the calls for justice might not be legally binding, but are certainly morally binding. Still, she said it will likely take litigation to achieve the level of substantive reform for which the inquiry is calling.

Minister of Indigenous Services Seamus O'Regan said Ottawa is already taking action on the report through its national action plan to invest in housing and education on reserves and safety on the Highway of Tears.

The prime minister has also promised that the federal government will come up with a national action plan for implementing the inquiry's recommendations, which itself is among the 231 calls for justice in the final report. The government says this action plan will be developed in partnership with survivors, family members as well as First Nations, Métis and Inuit governments and organizations.

When asked if the recommendations of the inquiry are legally binding, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs wrote in an emailed statement that "the final report offered recommendations to inform concrete action," and referred to the inquiry's terms of reference which include making recommendations to remove "systemic causes of violence and to increase the safety of Indigenous women and girls."

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