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May 2nd, 2023

NDP calls on Liberals to recognize the MMIWG2S crisis as a Canada-wide emergency

OTTAWA — On Tuesday, ahead of Red Dress Day, NDP Critic for Women and Gender Equality Leah Gazan will introduce a motion calling on the Liberal government to declare the ongoing genocide of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls and two-spirit people (MMIWG2S) a Canada-wide emergency. From 2016 to 2021, 247 Indigenous women were identified as the victims of homicide, and despite promising to act, the rate of homicide against Indigenous women has not decreased since the Liberals came to power.

“We are witnessing a crisis of unrelenting violence against our women, girls and two-spirit people,” said Gazan. “Just three days ago, the remains of an eight year-old girl were found in Samson Cree Nation in Maskwacis and my heart goes out to her family. We are not disposable — our lives are precious, and we deserve justice. 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.”

In her motion, Gazan is also calling for urgent, significant investments including in the creation of a Red Dress alert system. This would help alert the public when an Indigenous woman, girl or two-spirit person goes missing. As a result of pressure from family members, advocates and Gazan, the need for a Red Dress Alert was acknowledged in Budget 2023 — but the Liberals failed to provide funding and a timeline for its creation. Gazan says it is critical to implement this alert without delay.

Gazan added that the Liberals must also reverse their planned cut of $150 million to women’s shelters and invest in building more transitional homes and shelters for victims of gender-based violence.

“We are asking the government to take action now to end this ongoing genocide,” said Sandra DeLaronde, from the MMIWG2S Implementation Committee. “From stealing our identities to stealing our rights, to stealing our lives, it is time to take progressive, sustainable action to protect Indigenous women, girls and our two-spirit relatives. Families and survivors have carried the burden for change for generations and now it is time for government to act. It’s time to commit to saving our sacred lives.”

The motion will be introduced immediately following question period on Tuesday afternoon. The full text is available here:

That, given that:
(i) on October 27, 2022, the House unanimously recognized that what happened in residential schools was genocide,
(ii) decades of insufficient action from all levels of government have failed to address the effects of this genocide, including the crisis of violence against Indigenous women, girls and two-spirit people with the urgency it deserves,
(iii) families in Winnipeg and throughout the country continue to experience the tragic loss of a loved one to this crisis,
the House call on the government to:
(a)declare the continued loss of Indigenous women, girls and two-spirit people a Canada-wide emergency ; and
(b)provide immediate and substantial investment, including in a Red Dress Alert System, to help alert the public when an Indigenous woman, girl or two-spirit person goes missing.