NDP calls for ‘Canada wide emergency’ in response to violence against Indigenous women

The NDP critic for women and gender equality is calling on the federal government to declare a Canada-wide emergency for missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls and Two-Spirit people.

“We are not disposable – our lives are precious and we deserve justice,” said NDP MP Leah Gazan (Winnipeg-Centre) at a news conference Tuesday.

Gazan introduced the motion ahead of Red Dress Day, also known as the National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls and Two-Spirit people.

Red Dress Day was inspired by Métis, Winnipeg-based artist, Jaime Blacks’ installation REDress, where she hung red dresses to honour missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.

In her motion, Gazan also called for immediate and significant investment into the creation of a “Red Dress Alert,” an emergency notification program similar to that of an Amber Alert that would urgently notify the public when Indigenous women, girls, and Two-Spirit peoples are missing.

“We are witnessing a crisis of unrelenting violence against our women, girls, and Two-Spirit people. Just three days ago, the remains of an eight-year-old girl were found in Samson Cree Nation in Maskwacis. It’s time for immediate action from this government, including declaring a Canada-wide emergency and putting in place a Red Dress Alert to save lives.”

NDP MP Leah Gazan on Parliament Hill Tuesday. Photo: Kierstin Williams/APTN.

Nikki Komaksiutiksak, executive director of the Inuit resource centre, Tunngasugit, said there has been no justice for her sister, Jessica Michaels, who was murdered 25 years ago in Winnipeg. Komaksiutiksak is calling for immediate supports for missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls and Two-Spirit people.

“Identity is at the core of who we are as Indigenous peoples, we must be sure we are doing our very best as not for profit organizations, and have secure funding to be able to help our women and girls through this national tragedy,” Komaksiutiksak said.

During question period, Gazan called for the issue to be declared a nationwide emergency.

Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Marc Miller responded, “this is a tragedy but doing public policy by tragedy only leads to tragic results, I can only direct the people to the Final Report on MMIWG to see the systematic work that needs to be done.”

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