Canadian indigenous women victims of silent 'genocide': inquiry

Muriel Hammond
June 5, 2019

As the head of a group representing hundreds of off-reserve, non-status Mi'kmaq Islanders, Cooper notes the report calls on the federal government to "uphold its constitutional responsibility to Métis people and to non-status people".

For his part, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stopped short of using the term - despite being directly asked to do so in a call from the crowd - when he spoke after accepting the report.

The inquiry concluded thousands of women and girls were among the victims of "Canadian genocide", and that Canada, from its pre-colonial past to today, has aimed to "destroy Indigenous Peoples".

Violence has haunted Indigenous girls and women in Canada for decades.

When addressing the report today, Justin Trudeau has refrained from describing the violence and deaths as a genocide, according to CTV News.

"We have heard of their human rights being consistently and systemically violated", Trudeau said.

"It is absolutely unacceptable. And it must end".

The report was released publicly this morning with more than 200 recommendations to the federal government.

The report details 231 calls for justice and suggests large changes to be put in place to heal the multigenerational and intergenerational trauma and marginalization in the form of poverty, insecure housing or homelessness and barriers to education, employment, government services and support.

"During my appearance before the inquiry in June 2018, I apologized to the families of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls on behalf of the RCMP, and promised that we will do better to investigate these cases and support families", she said.

She eventually obtained the records herself, she said, but was told it was too late to include them in the inquiry's forensic audit of police files.

"Calls for justice are not mere recommendations or optional suggestions, they are legal imperatives", said the inquiry's chief commissioner, Marion Buller.

Conservative Indigenous-affairs critic Cathy McLeod said the discussion around the term was a distraction from the value of the report's findings and would not say whether she agreed with the use of the word.

"The fact that this national inquiry is happening now doesn't mean that indigenous people waited this long to speak up", the commission says.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police reported 1,181 cases of murdered or missing indigenous women and girls from 1980 to 2012.

As many witnesses expressed, this country is at war, and Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people are under siege.

The report points to examples of harms suffered by Indigenous women, LGBTQ and two-spirited people at the hands of Canadian authorities, including the failure to protect them from exploitation, trafficking and killers; deaths in police custody; physical, sexual, and mental abuse in state institutions; the removal of children; forced relocations; the lack of funding for social services and coerced sterilizations.

"They no longer need to convince others that genocide is a part of Canadian history", the statement said.

Indigenous and Northern Relations Minister Eileen Clarke said there's a lot of issues that need to be addressed at the provincial level.

Trudeau acknowledged that the justice system has failed missing and murdered Indigenous women.

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