Manitoba advocates respond to release of National MMIWG Action Plan

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Two years after a final report stemming from the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG), an action plan has been released aimed at ending violence against Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people.

The plan was developed by the federal government in collaboration with the National Family and Survivors Circle and other contributing partners.

The National Inquiry identified 231 calls for justice on Jun.3, 2019, and the Prime Minister committed to addressing them with a National Action Plan.

Advocates say if implemented, the priorities identified will make a difference.

“What this looks like is in order to stop this genocide and to end both the gender and race-based violence is that the status quo needs to end,” said Diane Redsky, chair of the National Action Plan’s urban sub-working group. “It’s not working. We need to be able to focus our energy on shifting power, decision-making, and resources to support local and grassroots initiatives regardless of where you live.”

“The solutions have always been with Indigenous people wherever they are.”

The plan identifies several short-term priorities which include more public education and awareness on the issues Indigenous people experience and trauma-informed training for those who work with Indigenous people on topics such as history, culture, and anti-racism.

The plan also calls for Indigenous-led violence prevention and healing programs, education, and awareness campaigns for Indigenous families and communities.

There is a section that calls for the creation of more shelters and transitional housing and a guaranteed annual livable income.

The federal government said the plan is a living document, not frozen in time and changes can be made going forward.

Hilda Anderson-Pyrz, co-chair of the National Family and Survivors Circle and manager of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Liaison Unit with MKO, said people need to know services and resources are there for them to access.

“When we look at the high rates of poverty amongst Indigenous women and girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people, a guaranteed livable income is critical,” said Anderson-Pyrz. “Various supports and resources need to be established, but it’s so important they’re barrier-free and that they meet the needs of individuals who are seeking those supports.”

So far, no specific dollar figures have been attached to each of the initiatives, but the federal government has previously announced $2.2 billion in funding over five years to support the commitments stemming from the National Inquiry.

Some of the priorities are in health and justice, which will likely require some level of provincial cooperation.

Manitoba’s Department of Indigenous and Northern Relations directed funding questions to the federal government.

“The province has just received the final documents to the National Action Plan and we will review and fully assess commitments to the plan,” a spokesperson for the department said in an email. “We are committed to working with Indigenous leaders, communities, and the federal government to address these important initiatives for our province and across Canada.”

The co-chairs of Manitoba’s MMIWG coalition said implementing the priorities in the action plan will require cooperation between all levels of government working alongside local and grassroots groups.

“While Manitoba continues to consult, we need concrete action and sustainable resources to address the health, well-being, safety, and economic security of Indigenous women and their families,” said Angela Lavallee, co-chair of the Manitoba MMIWG coalition.

Renee Kastrukoff, another co-chair of the Manitoba MMIWG Coalition, hopes jurisdictional issues can be set aside.

“I think it needs to come down all levels of government sharing for the caring of people, period,” Kastrukoff said.

The National Action Plan promises to monitor progress on implementing the priorities and to be accountable to survivors and families.

The full report can be found here.