The federal government aims to have a national action plan in response to the inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls by June, says Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett.
Ms. Bennett, who spoke at a special chiefs gathering of the Assembly of First Nations in Ottawa on Wednesday, said the government has been consulting with Indigenous groups, as well as the provinces and territories, since the release of the report. The department intends to have the plan in place within a year of the publication of the inquiry findings.
In June of this year, the federally funded commission, tasked with examining root causes of violence against Indigenous women and girls, issued 231 calls for justice.
It also concluded a genocide was taking place in Canada, saying the tragedy is a direct result of a “persistent and deliberate pattern of systemic racial and gendered human and Indigenous rights violations and abuses, perpetuated historically and maintained today by the Canadian state.”
Ms. Bennett said the plan will be a living document that can be updated once it is crafted, she said.
“There’s 231 calls to justice," Ms. Bennett said Wednesday. “We believe we’ve got to have something in the window by June, but we are not waiting for that. We are doing exactly what our partners are asking us to do in this time frame."
On Wednesday, Ms. Bennett’s cabinet colleague Justice Minister David Lametti also announced the federal government intends to extend funding for family information liaison units that help families access information about their missing and murdered loved ones.
The units will be extended for three additional years. Prior to Wednesday’s announcement, the units were only to be available until the end of March.
“We know the need for support and answers hasn’t ended,” Mr. Lametti said in a speech to the special chiefs meeting. “We want to make sure these important services continue to be available moving forward.”
Secretary-General of the Organization of American States Luis Almagro, who is visiting Canada at the invitation of the Native Women’s Association of Canada, said Wednesday that much work will be required in response to the inquiry’s findings. The OAS brings together 35 independent states of the Americas.
“We have a report. That is the start of everything," he said in an interview with The Globe and Mail. "But do we do have the complete truth? We don’t have the complete truth. Have we had justice? We don’t have justice yet. Do we have a fair reparation? We don’t have a fair reparation.”
Mr. Almagro is expected to meet the inquiry commissioners this week in Ottawa.