NWAC says budget falls short when it comes to missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls

The head of the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) says the organization is disappointed there is no mention of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls in the new federal budget.

Lynn Groulx says this is raising serious alarm bells about where previously promised investments are going.

“There was a major flag for us in terms of what happened with the investment in terms of the MMIWG (missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls),” she says.

“The national inquiry report was handed down with 231 calls for justice and we’re very concerned that on the surface of this reading of budget announcements, we don’t see where the investment is going to be and we have a very serious concern about that.”

In 2021, the issue of violence against Indigenous women and girls had its own section and a commitment of $1.6 billion over five years to address the calls for justice.

This year there are a few short lines on tackling gender-based violence, putting forward a national action plan and a pledge of $539 million dollars over five years.

Groulx says NWAC isn’t against new funding for a gender-based violence prevention program but the government needs to state where MMIWG fits into that programming.

“If there is a general gender-based violence and action plan, some investment there, there should have been a carve-out, a specific mention of MMIWG,” she says. “What’s the percentage that is going toward that? So, it’s lumped into this general category.

“We don’t know where it is and we’re probably going to send some letters to try and find out where it is.”

Assembly of First Nations National Chief RoseAnne Archibald says whether it be the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission or the final report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls – governments have a habit of funding studies but not following through on their recommendations.

“Why do they continue to create these studies and then not fund them properly? That’s a question for government,” Archibald says. “To me, there’s a design. There’s a design that has been going on in this country from the beginning of our relationship with settlers and it has to do with colonization.”

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In a news release, Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada says, that it is “focused on working with Inuit partners to implement the Inuit Action Plan, based on the federal government commitment of $2.2 billion over five years in last year’s budget, to end this tragedy, including for Inuit.

“However, there needs to be more concrete action to achieve progress on the goal shared by the federal government and Pauktuutit to address the 46 Inuit-specific Calls for Justice in the National Inquiry’s Final Report.”

APTN News also reached out to Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations Marc Miller’s office for comment.

In an emailed statement, his office says budget 2022 builds on past investments to address the root causes of violence against Indigenous women and girls.

The statement also says through the federal pathway program, the government will continue to work to end gender and race-based violence and invest in the calls for justice.

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