CBA Sections respond to MMIWG report

  • June 30, 2020

Money can’t solve all of the world’s problems, but stable, sustainable funding does seem to be the starting point for healing some of the wounds identified in the report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.

The Canadian Bar Association brought together members of its Aboriginal Law, Criminal Justice, Child and Youth Law, Environmental, Energy and Resources Law and Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Community Sections after the report was released last year. The group has completed its review of the report and sent its comments to Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett.

The Inquiry report outlined 231 Calls to Justice – necessary steps toward tackling the root causes of violence and improving the quality of life of the women and girls at its heart.

“The Inquiry report points to countless injustices suffered by Indigenous women and girls, and the combination of institutionalized racism, economic deprivation, sexism, misogyny and other factors that have led to so many being abducted, abused and murdered in Canada, over decades. It also highlights the inadequate response by state and other actors to date to address this ongoing travesty, and sets out Calls for Justice to ameliorate those injustices and inadequacies.”

The Sections studied the calls aimed at the legal profession and the justice system generally. They divide their submission into Calls for Justice for All Governments, Calls for Justice for Industries, Institutions, Services and Partnerships, and Distinction-based Calls for Justice.

In each part the Sections make their own call: funding. Stable funding, adequate funding, sustainable funding.

The government has yet to publish a National Action Plan to respond to the Calls to Justice, but the Sections say they support having a plan that would be developed and implemented by all levels of government in partnership with Indigenous peoples to address violence against women, girls 2SLGBTQQIA people. The CBA has considered such a plan to be a natural corollary to the work of the Inquiry.

The Sections say this plan must “necessarily be adequately funded, regionally and culturally adapted to the diversity of Indigenous cultures and communities, and accountable to Indigenous peoples by reporting on measurable goals.”

Other areas where the CBA calls for adequate funding include: anti-violence campaigns; protecting Indigenous languages and cultures; health and wellness services; safe housing, clean drinking water and adequate food; a guaranteed income; crime prevention initiatives including improved training for police and more Indigenous individuals hired to serve as police; improved access to stable legal aid funding; as well as funding and staffing the court system to serve a diverse population.

The CBA also supports calls for the establishment of various oversight offices, including a National Indigenous and Human Rights Ombudsperson, a National Indigenous and Human Rights Tribunal, a National Child and Youth Commissioner, and a position to oversee the treatment of Indigenous prisoners that is independent of Correctional Services Canada.

“The CBA Sections support the primary goals underlying the National Inquiry’s Calls for Justice, to stop violence against Indigenous women and girls, and discrimination based on gender, orientation, poverty, ethnicity and age,” the Sections write.

But without money, it seems, the calls to justice will go unanswered.