We Call for Urgent Action on this National Tragedy – Grand Chief Daniels
ANISHINAABE AND DAKOTA TERRITORY, MB — Today, on Red Dress Day, the Southern Chiefs’ Organization (SCO) is calling for the immediate implementation of the Calls for Justice stemming from the historic National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.
Red Dress Day, or the National Day of Awareness of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG), is marked every year on May 5th as a call for Canadians to never forget the ongoing national tragedy. SCO is launching a survey today to identify southern First Nations’ priorities around the Calls for Justice and to advocate for accountability and action by governments and stakeholders.
“I want to start by offering heartfelt condolences to all those personally affected by the national tragedy of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, Two Spirit, and gender-diverse people. The National Inquiry’s final report clearly demonstrates that the human rights and Indigenous rights abuses committed and/or condoned by the Canadian state represent genocide against Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people,” said SCO Grand Chief Jerry Daniels. “This is an ongoing tragedy and we can’t afford to wait for a National Action Plan any longer. We call on all of our Treaty partners and institutions to introduce effective legislation and policies that will address the National Inquiry’s Calls for Justice.”
The National Inquiry released its Final Report in June 2019, almost two years ago, yet there has been very little progress or outreach since then. The Final Report included 231 Calls for Justice, based on the Truth and testimony of thousands of family members and survivors and on existing Indigenous and human rights law, which created a tangible roadmap for action for all Canadian governments, institutions, and individuals. They include many Calls aimed at governments, including working in partnership to develop and implement a National Action Plan with annual reporting to address violence against Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people and creating an accountability mechanism in the form of an Ombudsperson.
The Calls for Justice focus on areas including culture and language, health and wellness, justice, policing, corrections, media and social influencers, education, child welfare, natural resource extraction and development, human security, and human and Indigenous rights. They also include eight Calls for individual Canadians, highlighting the role we all play in giving life to the Calls for Justice and ending the MMIWG epidemic.
“The Calls for Justice were painstakingly developed, with years of input from people across the country including those who have lost loved ones and are most affected by the violence and loss of life as well as experts. We know the Calls will lead to positive and lasting change,” stated longtime advocate and former co-chair of the MMIWG Manitoba Coalition, Sandra Delaronde. “There can be no more stalling, the time has come to put the Calls for Justice into motion. To do otherwise is insulting to the individuals and families we are honouring on this important day.”
SCO acknowledges the $2.2 billion announced in last month’s federal budget earmarked for the National Action Plan.
Meanwhile, the latest provincial budget commits less than a million dollars to increase supports for family violence prevention initiatives and for families of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, ensuring they remain a low priority.
“The lack of financial and policy commitments by the Pallister government only serves to exacerbate the fractured relationship with our provincial Treaty partner,” said Chief Deborah Smith, Chief of Brokenhead Ojibway Nation. “I call on this administration to live up to its own Path to Reconciliation Act, and to do whatever it takes to put an end to the loss of our precious community members.”
“We all have a role to play when it comes to finally ending this national tragedy,” concluded Grand Chief Daniels. “All Indigenous women, girls, two-spirit and gender-diverse people are sacred. They are mothers, daughters, sisters, cousins, aunties, grandmothers, granddaughters, partners, friends and leaders. All governments and Canadian institutions need to step up now and fully implement the Calls for Justice. We cannot wait any longer – lives depend on it.”
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.
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