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‘An appropriate word’: B.C. Indigenous community awaits report deeming missing, murdered women ‘genocide’

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B.C.’s Indigenous communities are anticipating Monday’s formal release of a national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.

Reaction has been strong to language leaked from the report concluding that the issue is nothing short of “genocide.”

Gilda Morgan, an elder with the Tla’amin Nation on the Sunshine Coast said the is pleased the report pulled no punches.

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“I agree with the strong wording because as an Indigenous woman I am six times more likely to be murdered,” she told Global News.

Many stakeholders were gathered for Women Deliver 2019 in Vancouver, the world’s largest meeting on the health, rights and well being of women and girls.

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At the event’s Indigenous Women’s Pre-conference, women who have worked on the front line with victims said they’ve seen some positive changes in recent years, but said much more work was necessary.

“It should be never ending until our women and girls stop going missing,” said Elder Roberta Price with the Coast Salish and Cowichan First Nations.

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“I’ve been on the frontline assisting our people in the DTES and my experience is [that] one my sisters is one of the missing women and, I devote my life to helping those who are not so privileged.”
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Price added that she felt genocide was “an appropriate word.”

The federally-funded inquiry is expected to contain 230 recommendations and focus on legal issues ranging from policing to the need to better respond to human trafficking, sexual exploitation and violence.

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Chief commissioner Marion Buller said that the inquiry had a short time to complete its work, but has collected “important truths.”

However, the inquiry has faced criticism including concerns over the commission’s structure, and saw significant turnover in staff.

Morgan said she’s hopeful the final report will spark real change.

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“I’m hoping that… Indigenous women will be invited to the table to assist in the changes,” she said.

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“They need to be sitting with the government… and they need to be listened to and respected and honoured to be on that journey of healing and wellness, and especially for the policies to keep our women and families safe.”

The final report will be released in a ceremony in Gatineau, Que. on Monday.

-With files from the Canadian Press