Quebec must change as violence against Indigenous women, girls ‘often overlooked’: MMIWG inquiry

Click to play video: 'MMIWG inquiry issues calls for justice for Quebec'
MMIWG inquiry issues calls for justice for Quebec
WATCH: The report in to Canada's Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls was released on Monday. In it, the authors of the report equate the crisis to "genocide" and make hundreds of recommendations to help improve the safety and quality of life of Canada's Indigenous communities. As Global's Anne Leclair explains, Quebec received its own set of recommendations that workers within the community hope will make a difference – Jun 3, 2019

The National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) is calling upon Quebec to act with 21 sweeping reforms in its final report issued on Monday.

The supplementary report on Quebec, which was headed by commissioner Michèle Audette, looked at the realities that First Nations women, girls, LGBTQ2 and two-spirit people face in the province. It describes their experiences in Quebec as “rich and complex,” saying that they “must be fully recognized and understood.”

“The reality of violence against Indigenous women in Quebec is often overlooked,” the report states.

READ MORE: Final MMIWG report calls violence against Indigenous women and girls ‘genocide’

During the three-year investigation, the inquiry held two community hearings in Quebec. These included 67 public testimonies, 18 private testimonies and 55 public statements that helped shed light on the ongoing crisis.

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“It is now the responsibility of every one of us to add to their voices until they are fully heard,” the report states.

The inquiry lays out 21 recommendations, or “calls for justice,” many of which demand the province and its police forces better meet the needs of Indigenous communities across Quebec.

Among the recommendations is a call for the government to create an “independent, multi-jurisdictional civilian entity to protect Indigenous citizens,” which would protect citizens’ rights, receive complaints and investigate those complaints.

WATCH: PM Trudeau decries Canada’s ‘shameful’ treatment of Indigenous women

Click to play video: 'PM Trudeau decries Canada’s ‘shameful’ treatment of indigenous women'
PM Trudeau decries Canada’s ‘shameful’ treatment of indigenous women

Other recommendations include forming multidisciplinary crisis teams to address cases of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls in the province. The report also calls on the federal and provincial governments to fund awareness campaigns on violence and invest in cultural resources such as healing lodges.

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The province should also ensure that services for victims are available in all Indigenous communities and cities, the report adds.

Special recommendations for police training, funding

The calls for justice also include specific recommendations for police training and funding as well as facilitating access to emergency services for Indigenous communities.

The inquiry wants Quebec’s police forces and the École nationale de police du Québec to provide proper training to all active police officers and cadets on the challenges Indigenous people face and, specifically, the issue of missing and murdered women and girls. The inquiry stresses that police officers should be familiar with “the particular reality of each community to which they are assigned.”

Quebec’s national police school should also offer specialized courses in English every year, the inquiry recommends, and hold training sessions for Indigenous police forces with a focus on investigating.

READ MORE: ‘You can’t put a time period on grief,’ families fear program closure after MMIWG inquiry

The report recommends Indigenous representatives should be part of all Quebec institutions responsible for training police officers and overseeing police work. This includes the province’s independent police watchdog, the Bureau des enquêtes indépendantes (BEI).

Quebec’s Public Security Ministry should also ensure police forces are co-ordinated and provide “Indigenous people with access to effective public safety services regardless of jurisdictional barriers,” the report states.

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‘Is anyone stopping to read it today?’ asks advocate

Nakuset, the executive director of the Native Women’s Shelter in Montreal, said that while she hopes the recommendations will be implemented, she wonders if the report will have an impact in Quebec.

“Is anyone stopping to read it today?” she said, referring specifically to Quebec’s youth protection department and Montreal police.

READ MORE: Concrete action must be the legacy of MMIWG report, Indigenous advocates urge

Nakuset, who testified at the inquiry’s hearings as a shelter operator, is also a survivor of the Sixties Scoop. After she was separated from her family at the age of three and sent to Montreal, Nakuset said her sister spent the next 20 years searching for her — but they were only reunited as adults.

“I survived, therefore I need to do more for the community,” said Nakuset.

Quebec Premier François Legault described the report’s findings as an “unacceptable situation” but he won’t go as far to call it a “genocide.” The final report calls the violence against First Nations, Metis and Inuit women and girls a form of “genocide” and a crisis “centuries in the making.”

“We have to do more, it’s clear,” said Legault. “It’s a very bad report.”

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The province said it will study the report and its proposed reforms for Quebec.

—With files from Global News’ Anne Leclair and the Canadian Press

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