Canada must know the truth before it can achieve reconciliation – The Importance of Canadians to act on MMIWG inquiry’s calls for justice

What will you do to further reconciliation?

This is the question posed to Canadians in the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (the “MMIWG Report”). The recent final report from the MMIWG Report makes 231 recommendations, referred to as “Calls for Justice.”

These calls for justice, including the development and implementation of a national action plan to address violence against Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA (two-spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex and asexual) people by all levels of government.

They are directed at federal, provincial and Indigenous governments to address areas of human and Indigenous rights, culture, health and wellness, security and justice. Other recommendations are directed at industries, institutions, services such as media, health-care providers, educators, police, Correctional Service Canada and those who work in child welfare.

Reconciliation requires each Canadian to understand the MMIWG Report and to act. One of the most profound and perhaps self-evident points the MMIWG Report makes is that the report calls on all Canadians to be part of the change. In order to move forward, we must come to terms with our past, and in the case of the MMIWG Report, the present.

Included in the MMIWG Report, are these recommendations:

  • Develop knowledge and read the final report. Listen to the truths shared, and acknowledge the burden of these human and Indigenous rights violations, and how they impact Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA [two-spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex and asexual] people today.
  • Using what you have learned and some of the resources suggested, become a strong ally. Being a strong ally involves more than just tolerance; it means actively working to break down barriers and to support others in every relationship and encounter in which you participate.
  • Confront and speak out against racism, sexism, ignorance, homophobia and transphobia, and teach or encourage others to do the same, wherever it occurs: in your home, in your workplace, or in social settings.

But how? How do you apply those grand statements in a practical way in your daily life?

Sadie-Phoenix Lavoie A two-spirit Anishinaabe community advocate from Sagkeeng First Nation provides suggestions on how to integrate the Calls to Justice in one’s daily life. Open communication and conversations are integral to advancing reconciliation.

“In the daily life, I think one of the major forms of combating racism is having conversations with people within the community and building those relationships with Indigenous Peoples.” Attending community events, taking the time to research the report, as well as Indigenous history, and taking a responsibility in furthering reconciliation are all elements of how the Calls to Action in the MMWIG Report can be integrated into Canadian’s daily lives.

Moving Forward

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights is putting pressure on Canada to implement the findings of the MMIWG Report, which concluded the issue amounts to genocide. The commissioners say the plan should be publicly available and that annual updates should be provided. They propose the details to be regionally specific, and include devoted funding and timelines for implementation by ensuring basic human rights, such as jobs, housing, education, safety and health care. 

Reconciliation necessitates Canadians to come to terms with what the report says – that substantive changes in order to end the genocide against Indigenous women and girls according to the final MMIWG Report. While politicians wrestle with the legal ramifications and the use of the word “genocide”, Canadians need not wait for a legal determination to advance reconciliation, and the goals in the Calls to Justice.