The Trudeau government announced how it’s spending $116 million in supports Monday morning for families who are victims of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls and other related crimes.
The announcement comes with the fourth anniversary of the release of the final report of the national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls less than a week away.
“This funding will support Indigenous-led, culturally safe and trauma-informed family and victim-centred approaches,” National Family and Survivors Circle chair Hilda Anderson-Pyrz said at a news conference in Ottawa on Monday.
“Individuals and families must be able to access services and supports regardless of where they live and this is really critical because we know in remote and isolated locations opportunities to access services and supports are minimal.”
About $96 million of the money will be delivered over five years with the other roughly $20 million ongoing.
Justice Minister David Lametti said what is key is the support services will be Indigenous-led.
“Indigenous agencies and organizations have the knowledge and expertise to help overcome the barriers that Indigenous people who are victims of crime face when accessing services and supports,” he said.
“Indigenous agencies and organizations know what they need from the justice system and what they need to assist victims in their healing journey.”
Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Marc Miller added the fact that a portion of the money will continue on past the five-year commitment means it is sustainable.
“Failure to provide funds in a systemic way and in an Indigenous-led way means that people continue to go missing and often turn up dead,” he said. “Or in the case of their families and survivors, do not get the closure and accountability that is due and in turn they become vulnerable.”
Anderson-Pyrz also said the investment will allow families to get more information when a loved one goes missing or has been murdered.
“It could involve the potential of hiring a private investigator because I know this is something that has been repeatedly shared with me when I was the director of the MMIWG liaison unit,” she said.
“With the gaps in policing and responses and other mechanisms that are out there that are not necessarily responding in the way that families and victims are looking for supports. It could also potentially support legal advocacy too.”
NDP MP Leah Gazan said that the Liberals need to get this money moving as quickly as possible.
“This isn’t new money,” she said. “It was announced in the budget and the prime minister acknowledged what was happening around violence against Indigenous women and girls as a genocide, yet they’re not investing adequately in it,” she said.
“The federal government has a habit of making these big announcements and then not spending the money. We know they need to invest more if they’re serious about addressing this ongoing genocide and they need to get that money out the door, unlike past monies that they’ve allocated, including from 2020 and we’re still waiting for them to spend it.”