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BC Election 2020
Rights + Justice

Coalition Calls Out BC Parties’ Silence on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women

NDP’s Horgan pledges action on 2019 inquiry recommendations after Indigenous and women’s groups raise issue.

Jen St. Denis 15 Oct

Jen St. Denis is The Tyee’s Downtown Eastside reporter. Find her on Twitter @JenStDen. This reporting beat is made possible by the Local Journalism Initiative.

A coalition of Indigenous and women’s advocacy groups called out B.C.’s political parties Wednesday for not saying anything about missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls in their party platforms or in the leaders’ debate.

“After the provincial election debate, what was glaringly absent was any discussion on missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls,” said Kukpi7 Judy Wilson, secretary-treasurer of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs.

“There’s a huge amount of work to do in this area, ending violence against women and girls, and there is no provincial action plan for it.”

The coalition released a statement Wednesday morning calling for action on the calls for justice from the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.

NDP Leader John Horgan responded, saying in an email that his party will work with Indigenous women, LGBTQ2SIA+ people, survivors, families and Indigenous governing bodies to support “community-based action planning, resourcing and healing.”

His statement said the NDP would “develop an action plan to end gender-based violence — including minimum standards for sexual assault response; more training for police, Crown counsel and justices; and establishing core funding for sexual assault centres.”

The Canadian government has been repeatedly criticized for being slow to act on the recommendations in the national inquiry’s June 2019 report.

But Wilson said Indigenous women in B.C. have also waited far too long for the province to act. The B.C. government does not need to wait for federal government, she said, and should proceed with its own plan to implement the inquiry’s calls for justice.

Wilson said many reports have recommended actions to deal with the high rates of violence Indigenous women in B.C. face. They include Red Women Rising, a report published by the Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre focused on women telling their own stories of colonialism, multi-generational trauma and dealing with systemic racism in the police, housing, child welfare and criminal justice systems.

Recommendations in the Red Women Rising report include ending child apprehensions because of poverty and giving more financial support to families to be able to afford safe housing, food and transit.

Wilson said the parties should show how they would implement the inquiry’s recommendations.

“We want them to release their plan for implementing the calls for justice,” Wilson said, adding the coalition is looking for a B.C.-specific action plan that will be led by Indigenous women and girls — not government.

“And then build on the work that’s already there, the root causes and promising practices that have already been identified,” Wilson said. “And commit appropriate funding... and allocate significant new funds into the 2021 and 2022 provincial budgets.”

The BC Green Party and BC Liberals did not respond to a request for comment from The Tyee by deadline.  [Tyee]

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