The report issued on June 3 by the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, Reclaiming Power and Place, is a stunning indictment of the genocidal record and policies of the Canadian state, and a powerful call for immediate action towards justice and equality. The Communist Party of Canada extends our solidarity to all those who courageously testified to the Inquiry over the last three years, and supports their demands for a genuine transformation of this society.
We were among those who joined the demands for the federal government to launch this Inquiry, to expose the real sources of widespread violence against Indigenous women and girls, and to help point the ways towards ending this brutality. Even as thousands of Indigenous women and girls were killed or went missing, these demands faced stubborn resistance and denials from police forces, politicians, the “legal” system and most of the media, until the cries for justice became too loud to ignore. Like the Truth and Reconciliation Commission earlier this decade, the MMIWG Inquiry helped to expose the racism deeply embedded in Canadian society, from the early days of European colonization, to present day times when traditional Indigenous territories and waters remain occupied by big corporate energy and resource monopolies, which rake in billions in profits while the true owners of the land remain impoverished and oppressed.
Even after the Trudeau Liberals were elected in part on the basis of their promise to launch the MMIWG Inquiry, the difficulties of this process were evident from the beginning. The Inquiry was prevented from accessing information buried in the files of police departments and government bureaucracies, making it difficult to know the tragic fate of many Indigenous women and girls who became victims of violence in recent decades. The Inquiry’s limited budget and time frame prevented it from showing full respect to many family members of the missing and murdered women. Despite these and other obstacles, the Inquiry heard testimony from 2,300 witnesses, largely the families of victims and survivors, and made 231 specific recommendations, from supporting Indigenous police services and overhauling current police procedures, to changing criminal codes and reforming child welfare.
As Reclaiming Power and Place states accurately, Indigenous women and girls have been the targets of genocidal policies and actions for centuries, from the early seizures of traditional Indigenous lands, to the post-Confederation Indian Act, the Sixties Scoop, residential schools, and countless breaches of human and Inuit, Métis and First Nations rights. As the report says, this led “directly to the current increased rates of violence, death, and suicide in Indigenous populations.” Despite the cowardly denials from some quarters, this story of death, destruction and forced assimilation is indeed proof of both physical and cultural genocide against Indigenous peoples, including women and girls, and those who identify as 2SLGBTQQIA – two-spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex and/or asexual – who face a form of “triple jeopardy” for various forms of interpersonal and institutional violence.
Even PM Trudeau had to state that violence against Indigenous women and girls “is not a relic of Canada’s past.” But while attempting to repair his shattered former image as a politician committed to nation-to-nation equality, our so-called “feminist” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau initially ignored the Inquiry’s conclusion that the historical and present day violence is a form of genocide against Indigenous women and girls. Right-wing forces, including much of the corporate media, claim that the Inquiry’s recommendations are “impossible” to fulfill, proving that in the eyes of the wealthy, Indigenous people are somehow “expensive and inconvenient” and should simply cease to exist, by dissolving into the broader population. This is the mindset of those who still benefit from unchecked white racist privilege, and from the massive profits gained from the exploitation of Indigenous lands and resources over the past 400 years and longer.
The Central Executive Committee of the Communist Party of Canada extends our congratulations to the Inquiry commissioners and staff, for completing their important task despite facing very difficult circumstances. We pledge to help circulate this important document and its findings as widely as possible, and to help put its recommendations into action.
Central Executive Committee, Communist Party of Canada (June 6, 2019)