More than 1,500 academics and allies have sent a letter to Carolyn Bennett demanding she act on the MMIWG Inquiry’s calls for justice.
The letter to the minister of Crown-Indigenous relations originated from faculty at the University of Guelph in Ontario.
Educators and academics from across North America joined in because it has been more than a year since the final report was delivered to government.
Kim Anderson, a Metis associate professor at the university, said she and her colleagues feel it is time to hold the government to account.
“We’re just saying that we are out here, we’re watching this happening, and we want to see some kind of response,” she said.
Anderson said they’re hoping for a response to their letter but, more importantly, a response to the inquiry itself.
“All of us have a responsibility to hold the government to account on this work that’s been done.”
The letter says Canada continues to struggle with reconciliation.
“By continued inaction the government is complicit in the ongoing genocide and oppression of Indigenous peoples,” the letter states.
“This delayed response follows decades of failure to develop and enact effective practices and policies in response to recommendations made by numerous commissions, including the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (1991) and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (2015), where only 10 of 94 recommendations have been completed.”
Bennett has said the COVID-19 pandemic slowed the preparation of the action plan.
But Vivian Jimenez-Estrada, a Mayan from Guatemala and the department chair of sociology at Algoma University, said the government could still be prioritizing justice for Indigenous women and girls.
“I don’t believe that COVID is really an excuse to not address the issues of underfunding,” Jimenez-Estrada said.
Anderson said everyone has a role to play.
‘Get this moving’
“It’s not just about the feds responding and doing some work; it’s about all of us taking up the work that needs to be done to get this moving.”
The letter suggests inaction further perpetuates and reinforces systemic settler-colonial violence against Indigenous women and girls.
Bennett, in a statement to APTN, said her department was working on a plan.
“Employing innovative ways to continue the work of co-developing a national action plan staying physically isolated. This important work is ongoing,” she said.