Transformative legal and social changes are needed to resolve the crisis that has devastated Indigenous communities across the country.
The National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, which began its journey in August 2016 to learn the truth and find solutions to end the alarming rates of violence against Indigenous women and girls, completed its work in a closing ceremony on June 3, 2019.
The National Inquiry’s Final Report reveals that persistent and deliberate human and Indigenous rights violations and abuses are the root causes behind Canada’s staggering rates of violence against Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people. The two-volume report calls for transformative legal and social changes to resolve the crisis that has devastated Indigenous communities across the country.
“The Commissioners of the National Inquiry found that genocide is the root cause for the disproportionate numbers of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. “As the evidence demonstrates, human rights and Indigenous rights abuses and violations committed and condoned by the Canadian state represent genocide against Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people. These abuses and violations have resulted in the denial of safety, security, and human dignity. They are the root causes of the violence against Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people that generate and maintain a world within which Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people are forced to confront violence on a daily basis, and where perpetrators act with impunity. The steps to end and redress this genocide must be no less monumental than the combination of systems and actions that has worked to maintain colonial violence for generations.”
—Excerpt from the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Final Report: Calls for Justice [PDF on mmiwg-ffada.ca]
In response to the National Inquiry’s findings, Moderator Rt. Rev. Richard Bott and Rev. Maggie Dieter, Executive Minister, Indigenous Ministries and Justice, urged non-Indigenous United Church people and friends to read the final report and support the Calls for Justice. These Calls for Justice represent important ways to transform systemic and societal values that have worked to maintain colonial violence.
Highlights of the Final Report
The final report focuses on the fundamental human rights of Indigenous women and girls. That the report is even available is because of the courage of families and survivors. Many Indigenous families, advocates, and allies spent years raising awareness for this to become a reality. We all have a role in ensuring that the Calls for Justice are implemented.
The final report finds genocide. The use of genocide in the report was the result of thousands of people submitting their testimony, as well as the Commissioners conducting their own legal research and analysis. The Commissioners created a supplementary report [PDF on mmiwg-ffada.ca] that explains why this finding is appropriate. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s final report also found cultural genocide.
We need to move forward with a comprehensive and coordinated National Action Plan led by Indigenous women and girls to make fundamental changes to Canada’s laws, policies, and practices that will end the genocide. The lives of Indigenous women, girls, and Two-Spirit people are still at risk. We must urgently implement a National Action Plan that involves federal, provincial, municipal, and Indigenous governments for this to work. The plan must be implemented within a human rights framework to ensure that the rights of Indigenous women and girls are upheld and respected.
“We call upon federal, provincial, territorial, municipal, and Indigenous governments, in partnership with Indigenous Peoples, to develop and implement a National Action Plan to address violence against Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people, as recommended in our Interim Report and in support of existing recommendations by other bodies of inquiry and other reports. As part of the National Action Plan, we call upon all governments to ensure that equitable access to basic rights such as employment, housing, education, safety, and health care is recognized as a fundamental means of protecting Indigenous and human rights, resourced and supported as rights-based programs founded on substantive equality. All programs must be no-barrier, and must apply regardless of Status or location.”
—Call for Justice 1.1 to governments, excerpted from the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Final Report: Call for Justice [PDF on mmiwg-ffada.ca]
There are 231 Calls for Justice in the final report. The following is an excerpt from the Calls for Justice to all Canadians:
We all have a role to play to combat violence against Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people. We encourage everyone to consider how they can give life to these Calls for Justice. We call on all Canadians to:
- 15.1 Denounce and speak out against violence against Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people.
- 15.2 Decolonize by learning the true history of Canada and Indigenous history in your local area. Learn about and celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ history, cultures, pride, and diversity, acknowledging the land you live on and its importance to local Indigenous communities, both historically and today.
- 15.3 Develop knowledge and read the Final Report. Listen to the truths shared, and acknowledge the burden of these human and Indigenous rights violations, and how they impact Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people today.
- 15.4 Using what you have learned and some of the resources suggested, become a strong ally. Being a strong ally involves more than just tolerance; it means actively working to break down barriers and to support others in every relationship and encounter in which you participate.
- 15.5 Confront and speak out against racism, sexism, ignorance, homophobia, and transphobia, and teach or encourage others to do the same, wherever it occurs: in your home, in your workplace, or in social settings.
- 15.6 Protect, support, and promote the safety of women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people by acknowledging and respecting the value of every person and every community, as well as the right of Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people to generate their own, self-determined solutions.
- 15.7 Create time and space for relationships based on respect as human beings, supporting and embracing differences with kindness, love, and respect. Learn about Indigenous principles of relationship specific to those Nations or communities in your local area and work, and put them into practice in all of your relationships with Indigenous Peoples.
- 15.8 Help hold all governments accountable to act on the Calls for Justice, and to implement them according to the important principles we set out.
Let us honour the truth together and be part of the change needed to create a new reality where Indigenous women, girls, and Two-Spirit people are safe and live in dignity. Let this be the last inquiry.
You may wish to read and reflect on the following blogs that were written by Indigenous leaders and Indigenous Ministries and Justice staff during community hearings of the National Inquiry: