MPs call for more help for Indigenous women

Members of Parliament pressed the government during opening statements prior to a special committee on the COVID-19 on what it’s doing to protect Indigenous women who may be vulnerable because of the pandemic.

NDP MP Lindsay Mathyssen said Indigenous women are disproportionately affected due to poor social conditions and she wants Canada to move on the 231 calls to justice from the inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.

“The report from the inquiry must not sit on the shelf,” Mathyssen said. “The government needs to work in partnership with indigenous women, the families of murdered and missing and the communities to implement the inquiries calls for justice and the calls to action brought forward by communities.”

Mathyssen stressed that respect for Indigenous women and two spirited people must be at the core of the Crown Indigenous relationship. Mathyssen said for many Indigenous women systemic discrimination continues to be a reality.

She said women in Canada make over 30 per cent less than men and the figure is even worse for Indigenous women.

Green party MP Paul Manly also stressed the needs of Indigenous women during these trying times.

Manly said in light of the one year anniversary of the MMIWG inquiry report, he would like to see more funding for the Native Women’s Association of Canada.

He said this would help to establish one of the main recommendations by the inquiry, the creation of a guaranteed annual living income for women.

Manly said Indigenous women need more help and stability especially during this pandemic

“For many women and children home is not a safe place in the best of times,” he said. “Social isolation, financial difficulties and alcohol consumption have all contributed to an increase in violence against women and children.”

Manly said it is everyone’s responsibility to protect women and referred to the moose hide initiative started in 2011, a grassroots campaign aimed at Indigenous men and boys to encourage them to speak out on violence against women.

“As men we have a responsibility to address the issue of violence towards women and children,” Manly said. “It is up to us to promote peer to peer accountability and do the work required to end the cycle of violence.”

The government did not respond to either MP during Question Period.

Reporter / Ottawa

Originally from the Cree Nation of Chisasibi on the eastern coast of James Bay, Quebec, Jamie has lived in Ottawa since 2015. Trained in journalism at Carleton University, he has worked as a freelance print journalist and as a writer/researcher for the Cree unit of CBC North out of Montreal. Jamie was hired as the reporter/correspondent for the Ottawa bureau in October 2019.