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Report card finds ‘little progress made’ one year into feds’ MMIWG2S national action plan

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A report card from an organization representing the political voices of Indigenous women concluded that ‘little progress’ has been made in the federal government’s national action plan to address violence, racism and disproportionate deaths of Indigenous women and girls.

The report card from the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) is billed as a comprehensive analysis of the federal government’s MMIWG2s National Action Plan.

That 113-page document was made public in June 2021, and was worked on by the federal government in collaboration with the National Families and Survivors Circle, Indigenous communities, and other levels of government.

The plan outlined seven categories for short-term priorities intended to be worked on over the next three years. The priorities are linked to themes from the national inquiry’s 231 calls for justice and 62 calls for Miskotahâ.

READ MORE: National MMIWG action plan released with short-term goals, federal support

NWAC said while some progress has been made over the past 12 months, little or none has been made on others.

“When you actually look at their very own plan that they handed down last year, there was only 30 action items in there. Of the 30, we found that there were 14 that had basically no progress,” said NWAC’s CEO Lynne Groulx.

“So 16, they moved on. Fourteen, no progress and very limited progress. We've actually failed them on this report card.”

Marc Miller, Canada’s minister of Crown-Indigenous relations, said he needs to review the report to learn more about its conclusions, but said it is not a day to make excuses.

“Particularly since we've seen increased violence against women during the pandemic, but really to move forward acknowledging that criticism and the work that needs to be done.”

PROGRESS MADE ON NWAC PLAN TO ADDRESS CALLS FOR JUSTICE

This comes after a Nanos Research poll found Canadians are three times more likely to say their country has done a poor job of curtailing the deaths and disappearances than to praise the work it has done federally to stop violence.

The survey and the report card is available on the NWAC's website.

Meanwhile, NWAC noted the 2021 federal budget pledged $2.2 billion to be spent over five years. However, it points out the commitments were not separately costed, and there is little information on how these funds are being distributed and what concrete action is being achieved.

“They did a breakdown in the 2021 budget, and they put some categories,” Groulx said. “But why are they not being transparent about where that money is? Have they spent it? Is any of it been spent some of it half of it?”

Miller said the feds have recently announced several investments in cultural safe spaces, something he said Indigenous and grassroots organizations have been calling for for years.

He said these investments are intended to be systemic in order to change the course of insecurity that Indigenous women and girls face. He acknowledged these efforts are slow-moving.

“Those are ones that are frustratingly taking time to show the results and with reason. This is something that's been going on for 500 years,” he said.

“This is about the government being relentless, holding itself to account, which is another step that we'll be taking, but also working with key elements of society, with our provincial and territorial partners to make sure that we're all holding ourselves to account and making sure that we end something that's entirely unacceptable in a country like Canada.”

Conversely, NWAC made public its own fully costed plan to outline how the association would address the inquiry’s calls for justice.

It said it has fully completed 40 of the 66 actions contained in that plan and made progress on an additional 18.

The association also said it introduced 16 projects or programs over the past year. It said many were delivered through its Resiliency Lodges, which are now operating in two provinces and are being developed in two others.

Groulx said she hopes the report card will spark more transparency from the federal government.

“Obviously lives are being lost, and missing women that have been missing for a short time or long time are still missing, and the work is just not getting done,” she said.

REPORT RELEASED AMID RASH OF WINNIPEG HOMICIDES INVOLVING INDIGENOUS WOMEN

The report card comes on the heels of a string of homicides in Winnipeg involving Indigenous women.

The most recent happened over the weekend. Winnipeg police said Tessa Perry, 31 was found on May 28 in the 100 block of Marlow Court with upper-body injuries. She was taken to hospital in critical condition where she died from her injuries.

Justin Alfred Robinson, 29, has been charged with second-degree murder.

None of the charges have been tested in court.

READ MORE: Winnipeg man charged in city’s 22nd homicide of 2022

On Thursday, Winnipeg police announced they had started searching the Brady Landfill as part of the investigation into the homicide of Rebecca Contois. The remains of the 24-year-old woman were found outside of an apartment in North Kildonan on May 16.

Jeremy Anthony Michael Skibicki, 35, has been charged with first-degree murder in connection with Contois’ death. The charge has not been proven in court, and he remains in custody.

Police are also investigating the homicide of Doris Trout, 25, who was found dead in a common area of a Kennedy Street apartment. No arrests have been made.

Miller called the homicides a tragedy, saying while there is nothing government can do to bring these women back, they can act on calls from the Indigenous communities.

“We can certainly set forth the conditions that they have been telling us to do for a very long time, and you ask yourself whether a particular investment could have saved those lives,” he said.

“These are things that keep us up at night, this government. Again, this is a tragedy. It's part of a pattern that's been ongoing for half a millennium, and it's got to end and it's got to take everyone in society, not just government officials, not just the federal government, but everyone.”

Statistics Canada reported about two-thirds of First Nations and Metis women have experienced violent victimization in their lifetime.

Additionally, 56 per cent of Indigenous women have experienced physical assault while almost half of Indigenous women experienced sexual assault. Conversely, about a third of non-Indigenous women have experienced physical assault or sexual assault in their lifetime.

The data comes from the 2018 General Social Survey on Canadians’ Safety.

- With files from CTV's Josh Crabb and Charles Lefebvre

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