The recently tabled 2022 federal budget lacks crucial supports for missing and murdered Indigenous women and their families, according to advocates and federal New Democrats.
NDP status of women critic Leah Gazan, who is a member of Wood Mountain Lakota Nation in Saskatchewan, said in a statement that the federal government had not allocated the funding necessary to implement calls to justice from the National Inquiry into Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.
The inquiry, which examined root causes of violence against Indigenous women and girls, released its final report in June 2019.
“Last week’s budget was yet another opportunity for the Liberals to show that they are truly committed to a plan backed by real funding to implement the calls for justice,” Ms. Gazan said. “But again they’re failing to do what’s necessary.”
The National Families and Survivors Circle (NFSC), which is made up of Indigenous women who advocate for governments and organizations to implement the calls to justice, likewise said in a recent statement that the budget lacks specific new funding commitments for survivors of gender-based violence.
The NFSC’s chair, Hilda Anderson-Pyrz, said the circle would continue to push for all governments to fund ways of providing immediate safety and security to those in danger. The organization’s statement noted that the budget includes broad commitments to Indigenous people, such as $4.3-billion allotted over seven years for Indigenous housing.
Lynne Groulx, the CEO of the Native Women’s Association of Canada, said that although the budget includes much-needed supports for Indigenous women, their families and their communities, her organization would have liked to see additional spending to ”stop the violence and genocide” addressed in the inquiry’s final report.
“That said, it is clear that the federal government is making sincere efforts to help the people we represent, and is directing resources to areas of significant concern,” Ms. Groulx added.
The national inquiry’s 231 calls for justice were directed at public services and multiple levels of government. The calls included standardized response times to reports of missing Indigenous people, and also to reports of violence against women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA individuals (that is, two-spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex and asexual).
In an interview, Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Marc Miller said Ottawa needs to make clear how its budgetary plans across the government directly relate to the calls to justice. He added that spending announced in the 2021 budget aimed at addressing violence against Indigenous women and girls has not been fully deployed. The funding has been allocated over a number of years, he noted.
If more money is required, he said, “we will absolutely go and get it.”
“I’m making no excuses for it. This is an urgent, urgent thing to get out.”
It is critical, Mr. Miller said, that Indigenous women and other groups named in the inquiry’s final report are safe and secure. He called this a benchmark to which the federal government and other Canadian governments will be held, adding that there must be a resolute commitment to “making sure this tragedy does not continue.”
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