Gladys Radek calls for accountability and action by government in last leg of national inquiry in April 2018. (Ashley Wadhwani photo)

Gladys Radek calls for accountability and action by government in last leg of national inquiry in April 2018. (Ashley Wadhwani photo)

Indigenous voices finally heard with final MMIWG report, says Northwest B.C. advocate

The report contains more than 200 recommendations to multiple levels of government

Northwest B.C. long-time advocate for missing and murdered Indigenous women Gladys Radek says the National Inquiry’s report on the genocide of thousands of Indigenous women and girls finally validates what families have been saying for years.

Radek worked closely with the National Inquiry as part of the National Family Advisory Circle, who brought the families stories forward and advised the commission on “virtually all the recommendations.” Her family still has no answers for what happened to their niece, Tamara Chipman, who disappeared while hitchhiking in Prince Rupert in 2005.

“It’s been a long road,” Radek says. “I’m just glad I was able to give the families their voice — It’s not my voice I want them to hear, it’s the families, all of the families. And I think they were very loud and clear today.”

The 1,200-page report, titled ‘Reclaiming Power and Place,’ calls the violence against First Nations, Metis and Inuit women and girls a form of “genocide” and a crisis “centuries in the making.”

The National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls was first launched in 2016 after calls for action came from Indigenous families and organizations to examine and report on the systematic causes of violence faced in Canada against Indigenous women and girls.

“These abuses and violations have resulted in the denial of safety, security, and human dignity,” the final report says.

READ MORE: Extend MMIW inquiry for two years: advocate

Over the years, Radek has spoken with thousands of families who have experienced unimaginable grief and heartache over the loss of their loved ones as part of her work with the inquiry. While they were forced to work under a shortened timeframe, the more than 200 recommendations listed in the report accurately represent the wishes of thousands of families, she says.

“Our families always knew what was needed, and we just want Canada to hear the atrocities we’ve been facing. If [people] are in tears, you know they’re listening.”

The report also has calls for action in areas including justice and health, including that health-service providers develop programs that could help young people recognize the signs of being targeted for exploitation.

The recommendations — framed in the report as “calls for justice” — include developing an effective response to human trafficking cases and sexual exploitation and violence, including in the sex industry. They are not optional, but constitute legal imperatives, the report says.

Additional calls include the need to establish a national Indigenous and human rights ombudsperson and a national Indigenous and human rights tribunal.

It also recommends the development of a national action plan to ensure equitable access to employment, housing, education, safety, and health care, as well as long-term funding for education programs and awareness campaigns related to violence prevention.

The report also strongly focuses on the need for actors in the justice system and in police services to acknowledge that the historical and current relationship with Indigenous women, girls, and two-spirit people has been largely defined by “colonialism, racism, bias, discrimination, and fundamental cultural and societal differences.”

Missing and murdered Indigenous women are believed to number in the thousands in Canada, but the report says that despite the commission’s best efforts to quantify the extent of the tragedy, ”no one knows an exact number.”

“People should be outraged knowing the real truth about this genocide against our people,” Radek says. “This is exactly what the families have been saying for years. Now it’s officially on record that Canada should be held accountable for genocide.”

READ MORE: All Canadians have a role to play in ending ‘genocide,’ report says

Moving forward, Radek says she wants to see the federal government’s promised comprehensive action plan responding to the recommendations outlined in the report regardless of the upcoming election this fall.

“I would like to see the [action plan] sooner than later,” Radek says, noting Trudeau’s recent actions with his cabinet’s previous justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould could fare poorly for the Liberals this election cycle.

“When they change prime ministers you always have to start reeducating them, then you have to go to them and say it’s up to Canada to do this.”

Governments recognizing the crisis as genocide was an important step, and while the report is a good start, there needs to be assurances that meaningful changes will come from all levels of government, Radek says.

“There’s no excuse for a certain population to be living in poverty. The resources are needed for our health healing and wellness programs, the resources are needed for housing, economic stability. [Governments] need to resource them, they need to fund these organizations not just part-time, we need permanent measures.”

The inquiry was first launched in 2016 after calls for action came from Indigenous families and organizations to examine and report on the systematic causes of violence faced in Canada against Indigenous women and girls.

In 2005, the Native Women’s Association of Canada created a database, tracking cases and produced a 2010 report documenting 582 missing and murdered Indigenous women.

In 2014, the RCMP released a national overview and pegged the number of cases between 1980 and 2012 at nearly 1,200. Other unverified estimates are far higher.

—with files from The Canadian Press


 


brittany@terracestandard.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Indigenous reconcilliationJustin TrudeauMMIWG

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

FILE – Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs have agreed to sign a memorandum on rights and title with B.C. and Ottawa, but elected chiefs are demanding it be called off over lack of consultation. (Thom Barker photo)
Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs, Lake Babine Nation get provincial funding for land, title rights

Government says it’s a new, flexible model for future agreements between Canada, B.C. and First Nations.

Kieran Christison, manager of Daybreak Farms in Terrace inspects eggs on Oct. 30, 2020. Christison wants to transition to a zero waste, cage-free facility. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Daybreak Farms aiming to achieve zero-waste, cage-free facility

Kieran Christison, manager, presented the farm’s future plans to Terrace city council

Mercedes Trigo, assistant manager, said that Trigo’s Lifestyle Store in Terrace has experienced four broken windows and an attempted break-in recently, leaving her feeling unsupported by bystanders and the police. (Ben Bogstie/Terrace Standard)
Trigo’s management frustrated by property damage, theft

In a little over a month there have been four broken windows and an attempted break-in at the store

Two RCMP officers have been recognized for their actions in responding to an incident involving a man with a weapon at 4501 Park Ave. on the afternoon of April 27, 2020. RCMP say it was an isolated incident and there is no danger to the general public. (Jake Wray photo)
Terrace RCMP officers recognized for acts of bravery

Two involved in arrest of armed suspect

Vancouver resident Beryl Pye was witness to a “concerning,” spontaneous dance party that spread throughout social groups at Kitsilano Beach on April 16. (Screen grab/Beryl Pye)
VIDEO: Dance party erupts at Vancouver’s Kitsilano Beach to the dismay of onlookers

‘It was a complete disregard for current COVID-19 public health orders,’ says Vancouver resident Beryl Pye

A syringe is loaded with COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to open up COVID vaccine registration to all B.C. residents 18+ in April

Registration does not equate to being able to book an appointment

(Black Press file photo).
Multiple stabbings at Vancouver Island bush party

Three youths hospitalized after an assault in Comox

Selina Robinson is shown in Coquitlam, B.C., on Friday November 17, 2017. British Columbia’s finance minister says her professional training as a family therapist helped her develop the New Democrat government’s first budget during the COVID-19 pandemic, which she will table Tuesday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. finance minister to table historic pandemic-challenged deficit budget

Budget aims to take care of people during pandemic while preparing for post-COVID-19 recovery, Robinson said

Each spring, the Okanagan Fest-of-Ale is held in Penticton. This year, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the festival will not be held. However, beer is still available. How much do you know about this beverage? (pxfuel.com)
QUIZ: How much do you really know about beer?

Put your knowledge to the test with this short quiz

Lord Tweedsmuir’s Tremmel States-Jones jumps a player and the goal line to score a touchdown against the Kelowna Owls in 2019. The face of high school football, along with a majority of other high school sports, could significantly change if a new governance proposal is passed at the B.C. School Sports AGM May 1. (Malin Jordan)
Power struggle: New governance model proposed for B.C. high school sports

Most commissions are against the new model, but B.C. School Sports (BCSS) and its board is in favour

Pall Bearers carrying the coffin of the Duke of Edinburgh, followed by the Prince of Wales, left and Princess Anne, right, into St George’s Chapel for his funeral, at Windsor Castle, in Windsor, England, Saturday April 17, 2021. (Danny Lawson/Pool via AP)
Trudeau announces $200K donation to Duke of Edinburgh award as Prince Philip laid to rest

A tribute to the late prince’s ‘remarkable life and his selfless service,’ the Prime Minister said Saturday

B.C. homeowners are being urged to take steps to prepare for the possibility of a flood by moving equipment and other assets to higher ground. (J.R. Rardon)
‘Entire province faces risk’: B.C. citizens urged to prepare for above-average spring flooding

Larger-than-normal melting snowpack poses a threat to the province as warmer weather touches down

Vancouver-based Doubleview Gold Corp. is developing claims in an area north of Telegraph Creek that occupies an important place in Tahltan oral histories, said Chad Norman Day, president of the Tahltan Central Government. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO)
B.C. Indigenous nation opposes mineral exploration in culturally sensitive area

There’s “no way” the Tahltan would ever support a mine there, says Chad Norman Day, president of its central government

Most Read