In spite of what advocates are saying, Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Marc Miller says he believes progress is being made on addressing the calls to justice issued in the final report of the national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.
“What we heard last year from advocates precisely was to answer that accountability portion because without accountability it’s very hard to trust the federal government,” he said in Ottawa on Monday.
“Particularly in an area where the trust is very thin in the first place. It’s why we had this federal/provincial/territorial roundtable in January at the end of which I appointed Jennifer Moore Rattray to move on that accountability portion which is putting in place an ombudsperson.”
But organizations like the Native Women’s Association of Canada are once again giving the Trudeau government a failing grade in terms of addressing the report’s 231 calls to justice.
“We are disappointed to report that our annual scorecard shows that the federal government has gone another year without meaningful action to end the genocide,” NWAC CEO Lynn Groulx a said in June 1 press release.
Other organizations such as the Assembly of First Nations and Ontario Native Women’s Association have also been critical of the government’s progress on the calls to justice.
On June 3, the 4th anniversary of the release of the final report, the government released an updated Pathway report on where the government is in terms of meeting the calls to justice.
In it, the government said it’s making progress on a number of fronts including money for language projects, supporting cultural spaces in Indigenous communities and “allocating” more than $3 million “to develop 13 new healing and wellness programs.”
Miller said there is no definitive timeline for when an ombudsperson will be in place but he expects a report from Moore Rattray in the coming months.
“I am looking for a more comprehensive report from her in the late fall. I didn’t want to put conditions or a timeline on her myself. This is I think a timeline that she herself put forward to me and then we’ll look at that and look at the process we need to do to really firm up the ombudsperson’s role.”
Also on Monday across the river in Gatineau at the Native Women’s Association of Canada offices, the government announced $1.2 million in funding for the organization.
“This funding means more training and the development of customized strategic plans and capacity building for member organizations in all provinces, in all territories, to address violence,” Minister for Women and Gender Equality Marci Ien said. “NWAC will be able to provide more educational supports while enhancing empowerment supports for at risk populations and survivors of human trafficking.”
Groulx said the money will allow the organization to continue with its grassroots programming.
“The capacity building funding from WAGE Canada announced today helps us to sustain the heart of the work of NWAC which is our communities,” she said “We will have more staff and more liaisons to help our PTMAs, our member associations, with training in areas of proposal writing, finance, communications and generally to help keep our communities safer.”