Canada’s response to the conclusions of the inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls should include some form of redress for the victims and their families, says the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.
Michelle Bachelet, who spent the day meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, acknowledged Monday that she hasn’t read the full final report from the national inquiry, which was released earlier this month.
But she said the government’s plan should identify and implement some sort of recompense for the Indigenous women, girls, LGBTQ and two-spirit people who have been directly impacted by the long-standing tragedy.
“We always try to support the families of the victims and to give them redress,” Ms. Bachelet said, noting that other countries facing similar situations have approached the problem in different ways.
“We believe that it is a way of acknowledging a reality and doing something about it.”
The inquiry’s final report included 231 recommendations, framed as “calls for justice,” including developing an effective response to human-trafficking cases and sexual exploitation and violence.
The commission also documented the issue as a “deliberate race, identity and gender-based genocide.”
That last conclusion has sparked controversy, in particular after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his government has accepted the report’s conclusions.
In a statement, a spokesperson for the UN Human Rights Office said the finding of genocide obliges the federal government in Canada to “assess these serious claims.” The office also commended Canada on its engagement on the rights of Indigenous communities, including with the inquiry, calling it an important contribution to the national debate and a “critical step towards reconciliation.”
“The national inquiry allowed for the voices of the victims to be heard, and for their truth to come out,” it said.
“We encourage everyone to now focus on implementation of the comprehensive recommendations, including ensuring redress for the victims and their families, and taking all necessary measure to prevent further violations.”
The federal government’s job, along with the provinces and territories, is to develop a national action plan,
In a statement, the office of Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett acknowledged the government needs to develop an action plan in tandem with the provinces and territories, and will speak to the initial steps in that process over the coming weeks.
“This action plan must be developed in partnership with First Nations, Inuit, and Metis governments and organizations, the families of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, and LGBTQ and two-spirit people, and survivors,” it said.
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