NDP MP gives Trudeau government failing grade when it comes to MMIWG initiatives

A Winnipeg MP says the Trudeau government continues to come up short when it comes to addressing the issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.

“It’s been almost five years since the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls and quite frankly there’s been very little movement by the federal government,” Leah Gazan, who represents the NDP in the riding of Winnipeg Centre, said.

“I’m happy that it looks like we’re moving forward with a red dress alert. I think that’s a step in the right direction but the fact is that’s at the end game. We need prevention. We need things put in place so that Indigenous women and girls don’t go missing or are murdered.”

The inquiry released its final report in June 2019 and many of its 231 calls for justice remain unfulfilled.

In this year’s budget, the Liberals announced $1.3 million over three years to co-develop a Red Dress Alert system with Indigenous partners. Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Gary Anandasangaree is expected to make an announcement on the alert system in Winnipeg on Friday.

Sunday is Red Dress Day.

Métis identity theft

The Manitoba Métis Federation is co-hosting a summit later this month to tackle what the organization says is a growing problem of Métis identity theft.

“We’re seeing a national group taking on not one person – we’re talking tens of thousands, potentially hundreds of thousands of people – to come in claiming they’re part of the Métis history and Métis culture,” MMF President David Chartrand said. “Clearly you can do all the research you want, you’ll never connect us to those people. We have no national connection to them whatsoever. We are the national government of the Red River Métis.”

The Identity Summit takes place May 14-15 in Winnipeg and is being co-hosted with the Chiefs of Ontario.

In 2021, the MMF left the Métis National Council because of the MNC’s recognition of the Métis Nation of Ontario which the organization does not see as a legitimate Métis government with no historical connection to the Red River area.

Things have come to a head over the past year with the federal government’s proposed Bill C-53 which formally recognizes Métis governments in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Ontario.

Last month, the Métis Nation-Saskatchewan withdrew its support for the legislation.

Ontario First Nations have rallied hard against Bill C-53 because they also do not see the MNO as legitimate and believe the legislation could affect their inherent treaty and land rights.

Chartrand said it is important to educate not only Indigenous people about who is and who is not Métis but all Canadians.

Poverty in Nunavut report

A new report shows child poverty is on the rise in Canada and has hit staggering numbers in Nunavut.

The report, released by Campaign 2000, shows child poverty rose nationally from 2020 to 2021 from 13.5 per cent to 15.6 per cent.

In Nunavut, this number rose by 7.7 per cent to 35.8 per cent and for children under six-years-old living in the territory the numbers get even worse as child poverty for this demographic hit a staggering 43.2 per cent.

Tara Tootoo-Fotheringham, vice-president of the board of the Nunavut Inuit Women’s Association, said the COVID-19 pandemic only further exacerbated existing food security problems leading to an increase in child poverty in the territory.

“We’ve gone through such a change with access to food since the pandemic,” she said. “It really lifted off the cover as to how destitute some homes were in being able to have access to food when with the pandemic there was a request to stay home and not go out. Some people were still able to have an income coming in depending on who their employer was. But some, maybe the most impoverished, were the ones who worked hour-to-hour and were not able to get an income while this was on. So, that was really harsh to see on paper that we are that high in our poverty.”

Tootoo-Fotheringham added many people living in the territory, including the high number of artists, did not qualify for Canada Employment Relief Benefits or CERB.

She said some things that could reduce child poverty in Nunavut are breakfast programs in schools, using Jordan’s Principle to increase funding for programs that tackle child poverty and food literacy programming to help residents shop smart and healthy.

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