Photo by Whitehorse Star
Kluane Aagé Adamek
Photo by Whitehorse Star
Kluane Aagé Adamek
Kluane Aagé Adamek, the Yukon regional chief of the Assembly of First Nations, had a direct message for Canadians on Monday, when the commissioners of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) released their final report to federal, provincial and territorial governments.
“On this very important day, we call on Canadians to stop, to reflect, and to take a very serious look at the systemic failures and lack of leadership demonstrated that has led to the preventable murders and abductions of our women and girls,” Adamek said.
“These unnecessary lost lives are very real to us, and the grieving continues. These women and girls were our daughters. Our nieces. Our sisters. Our granddaughters. They were our mothers and grandmothers.
“And the violence against our women is still happening today. In an era of #MeToo, this is quite simply unacceptable,” Adamek said.
The final report leads with evidence that concludes that the cases of Indigenous women and girls murdered and whom have gone missing as investigated by the inquiry were victims of a “Canadian genocide”.
The final report reflects the painful suffering of the victims and their families, Adamek said. It speaks directly to how terribly Canada has systemically failed them, she added.
The inquiry could not make a final determination of the number of women and girls who have been murdered or gone missing due to the lack of timely action from Canada to respond to the crisis, the regional chief pointed out.
The report calls on Canadians to stand up and call out racism and violence against Indigenous peoples, to learn the truth about Canadian history, and to read the landmark report in full.
It includes more than 200 recommendations for changes to the justice system.
“The results of the national inquiry clearly show that the best way forward is for First Nations to reassert their inherent rights and our jurisdiction,” Adamek said.
“This means taking back control of our own governance systems, such as restorative justice, our own healing mechanisms for impacted families and women affected by violence, the development of our own child and family services laws and systems, improved access to life-long education that is culturally relevant, increased access to Indigenous-led addictions and treatment programming, and the transfer of health care for delivery by First Nations.”
The final report comprises “the sacred truths of 1,484 family members and survivors of violence and 83 knowledge-keepers, experts and officials who provided testimony at 24 hearings and statement gathering events held from coast-to-coast-to-coast in 2017 and 2018, as well as 819 people who shared their truths through artistic expressions.”
Kwanlin Dun First Nation Chief Doris Bill said it’s “important to uphold the truths of the families and survivors who courageously took part in this process.
“I am confident that we can change the story in Yukon; First Nation self-government uniquely positions us to make a real difference in the lives of Yukon families and to make our communities safer.”
The November 2017 commission’s interim report, Our Women and Girls Are Sacred, provided recommendations that informed the committee’s work and their partners on action planning.
This included work on the Sexual Assault Response Team planning and implementation, community safety planning, and promoting economic empowerment of Indigenous women and girls.
In 2017, the Yukon was the first jurisdiction to host family hearings and one of the first to host advisory meetings.
In keeping with Indigenous values, the commission was welcomed back to the Yukon last month to take part in healing ceremonies.
The committee members will attend a private family gathering later this month with family members and survivors.
Hosted by the Yukon Indigenous Women’s groups, the family gathering will mark the end of the inquiry’s work, promote continued healing and look to the future to change the story for Indigenous women and girls.
“I lost my sister at a time when there was no respect or regard for the rights of Indigenous women,” said Ann Maje Raider, the executive director of the Liard Aboriginal Women’s Society.
“This tragedy was made even worse by the disrespect our family was shown by the authorities. Things are getting better, and thanks to the inquiry and countless Indigenous women across Canada, my sister has finally been given a voice, along with so many other missing or murdered Indigenous women and girls.”
Meanwhile, the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples (CAP) acknowledges that the final report as a guiding document for concrete actions to be taken to protect Indigenous women and girls.
Over the past two years, CAP participated as a party with standing, and members also joined in the truth gathering process.
“We know too well that the government continues the pattern of colonial violence today and that the existing Indian status rules, along with chronic underfunding of adequate, culturally-safe policies and supports, are leading to the eradication of our peoples,” said CAP national chief Robert Bertrand.
The inquiry has taken a strong position that the federal government is legally obligated to end these practices, he pointed out.
Call to Justice 1.1 demands for “… 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,” Bertrand said.
“All programs must be no-barrier, and must apply regardless of status or location.
“We are here to honour the lost women and girls,” he added.
“We’re hopeful that full implementation of the Calls to Justice would lead to greater safety, security and empowerment of our constituency.”
“Above all, this inquiry is for the families who need to see this process lead to concrete solutions – to help end the continual cycle of murder and violence against Indigenous women and girls,” added national vice-chief Kim Beaudin.
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