Continued Delay of Full Plan Maintains Status Quo
and Does Not Stop the Violence – Grand Chief Daniels
June 04, 2021
ANISHINAABE AND DAKOTA TERRITORY, MB — The Southern Chiefs’ Organization (SCO) is responding to the federal government’s 2021 Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA+ People National Action Plan: Ending Violence Against Indigenous Women, Girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA+ People, released June 3, the second anniversary of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls’ (MMIWG) final report and 231 Calls for Justice.
“First, I want to thank the National Family and Survivors Circle, and all of those involved in the work leading to the federal National Action Plan,” stated SCO Grand Chief Jerry Daniels. “Developing the long awaited National Action Plan could not have been easy as this ongoing tragedy brings up so many painful emotions and so much trauma. Their bravery and sacrifices continue to support and lift us all up. Unfortunately, we cannot fully support the National Action Plan as after two years of waiting our federal Treaty partner offers merely a framework and pathway, without a plan for implementation, further delaying justice for families and Survivors.”
The National Action plan (NAP) is currently only preliminary, lacking clear steps for implementation or tangible timelines. While Canada announced funding in Budget 2021, costing for implementing the National Action Plan has not yet been shared. Families and Survivors have already waited far too long for the NAP and now, they continue to wait. The Manitoba government also did not release tangible information on implementation or a pathway for action, unlike other provinces such as Ontario.
“Our people continue to feel great pain with little comfort or support coming from yesterday’s release of the National Action Plan,” said Chief of Brokenhead Ojibway Nation, Deborah Smith. “We are thankful to the Indigenous families and Survivors involved in the process, but we expected and require far more from our federal and provincial Treaty partners including an opportunity to be involved. Unnecessary delays have already been a reality for those grieving, and now it seems they need to wait even longer for clear answers on how the government plans to respond to the Calls for Justice. There is urgency – First Nation women, girls and gender-diverse people go missing each and every week.”
The NAP highlights seven short-term priorities, promising to later develop an implementation plan with medium- and long-term priorities. The short-term priorities include:
- Achieve transformative changes in attitudes, behaviours, and knowledge within the broader society to prevent and end the root causes of systemic racism, inequality, injustice, and violence against Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people in Canada.
- Keep families and survivors at the centre of the process and provide concrete support to survivors and families of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people.
- Address the broader root causes of violence against Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people.
- Develop a national Indigenous human rights accountability mechanism focused on Indigenous human rights that includes inherent, Treaty, and Constitutional rights, the creation of an oversight body to represent the interests of families, Survivors, and Indigenous communities, and the launch of a national task force to review and reinvestigate unsolved files, something that has been called for many times and was announced previously but has not yet been established.
- Establish a culturally appropriate Indigenous data infrastructure reflective of Indigenous and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people, based on Indigenous data sovereignty and culturally rooted and distinctions-based indicators.
Despite repeated requests and outreach, our federal Treaty partner did not involve SCO nor its 34 Anishinaabe and Dakota First Nations, which represent more than 80,000 citizens, approximately 10 percent of all First Nation people in Canada. Southern First Nation women, girls, and two spirit peoples deserved to have been fully included in the federal process.
SCO moved forward on its own, launching a public awareness campaign last year on billboards and bus boards throughout the region, and a survey just last month on the National Day of Awareness of MMIWG, to identify southern First Nations’ priorities around the Calls for Justice.
Interim results from the survey show that top priorities include:
- Programs and services that restore, reclaim, and revitalize culture.
- Funding for First Nation-led health and wellness services including mental health, addictions, and trauma services.
- Mental health, addictions, and trauma services for incarcerated people.
- Support for First Nation families and communities to keep children in their homes and communities as opposed to the child welfare system.
- First Nation-led shelters, safe spaces, transition houses, second-stage housing, and services.
- Education on the historical and current laws, policies, practices and genocide against First Nation peoples.
“It’s essential for southern First Nation priorities to be fully addressed by the federal National Action Plan, which is so far lacking,” added Grand Chief Daniels. “Our people’s voices and needs are not adequately reflected in the plan. I commend Canada for announcing $2.2 billion in funding to address the Calls for Justice, but I cannot fully support an exclusive, flawed process that continues to be delayed, despite being a top priority for Indigenous peoples across Turtle Island.”
SCO’s Calls for Justice survey is still open to First Nation citizens to complete. All survey responses are important as they will be used to guide SCO’s work and help to hold governments, institutions and stakeholders accountable.
SCO also encourages everyone to review the Native Women’s Association of Canada’s (NWAC) National Action Plan (PDF), Our Calls, Our Actions, released on June 1st. NWAC was one of the first organizations to call for action to end the epidemic of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, and gender diverse peoples and continues to be a strong voice. They were originally a part of the federal process for developing the NAP, but stepped away citing numerous concerns. NWAC has announced it will launch a Human Rights complaint and ask the Organization of American States and the United Nations to intervene, to force Canada to end the genocide.
The Southern Chiefs’ Organization represents 34 First Nations and more than 80,000 citizens in what is now called southern Manitoba. SCO is an independent political organization that protects, preserves, promotes, and enhances First Nations peoples’ inherent rights, languages, customs, and traditions through the application and implementation of the spirit and intent of the Treaty-making process.
For Media Inquiries:
Vic Savino, Communications Officer, Southern Chiefs’ Organization
Office: 204-946-1869 Ext. 104 | Cell: 204-881-4512 | Email: Media@scoinc.mb.ca