Dear Minister Bennett,
In June 2019, the final report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls was released. In December 2019, you made a commitment to release a national action plan in response to the 231 Calls to Justice one year from the release date.
On May 27, 2020, we were appalled to hear the reneging of your government’s promise to release the action plan within that time frame in the House of Commons, citing COVID-19 as your reason for failing to meet your commitment. We would like to remind you that while your government stalls, women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people continue to experience violence, go missing, and in the worse cases die, as a result of violence.
The threat has become even more pronounced with the increase in domestic violence rates occurring during COVID-19, which demands an even more urgent government response to the 231 Calls to Justice. The situation is becoming more dire by the day and the decision to delay a national action plan, yet again, is abhorrent when lives are on the line. Your government had plenty of time since the release of the Inquiry’s report. Plainly, this did not occur. With what we know about increased rates of violence during the COVID-19 pandemic, action is required now to stop this targeted violence.
It is time that your government cease turning a willful blind eye on violence against Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people and take immediate action on behalf of the 2380 family members, survivors, experts, and knowledge keepers who shared and provided testimony over two years, in addition to thousands of other family members across this country and the countless others who were not yet ready to speak. They deserve better than empty promises and delays. Our daughters, mothers, sisters, aunties, and grandmothers are sacred. Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people’s fundamental human right to live, to be free, and to feel secure need to be respected.
COVID-19 has utterly demonstrated that we have the resources to look after people. It is a political choice not to do so. There is no more time to wait. The government needs to, in consultation with survivors, families, community groups, and organizations, immediately take the necessary steps to act on all 231 Calls to Justice of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.
Leah Gazan, M.P.
NDP Critic for Children, Families and Social Development
Mumilaaq Qaqqaq, M.P.
NDP Critic for Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency and Northern Affairs
Lindsay Mathyssen, M.P.
NDP Critic for Diversity and Inclusion and Youth, Women and Gender Equality