Earlier on Monday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised that his government would fail Indigenous women and girls “no longer,” as the report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) was released.
Chief Commissioner Marion Buller was firm in saying that the deaths and disappearances of Indigenous women and girls was a direct result of a “persistent and deliberate pattern of systemic racial and gendered human and Indigenous rights violations and abuses, perpetrated historically and maintained today by the Canadian state.”
“This is genocide,” she affirmed.
WATCH: Trudeau promises action on MMIWG report, but doesn’t say it’s ‘genocide’
Trudeau, however, didn’t use the word “genocide” when he responded to the report:
Trudeau: “This report, these truths, difficult, challenging and uncomfortable…”
Audience member: “Genocide! Say what it is!”
Trudeau: “This is an uncomfortable day for Canada, but it is an essential day.”
The prime minister changed course when speaking to a crowd of thousands at Women Deliver 2019 in Vancouver.
The event was a conference aimed at policy changes “for the health, rights, and wellbeing of girls and women and achieving a more equal world.”
Here’s how Trudeau addressed conference attendees in his opening remarks:
“Earlier this morning, the national inquiry formally presented their final report, in which they found that the tragic violence that Indigenous women and girls have experienced amounts to genocide,” he said.
“The strength of the families and the survivors who bravely shared their truths have shown us the way forward.”
Trudeau said the federal government would do a “thorough review” of the MMIWG report and “develop and implement a national action plan to address violence against Indigenous women, girls and LGTBQ and two-spirited people.”
In a news conference earlier in the day, MMIWG commissioner Michele Audette said she was disappointed that Trudeau hadn’t used the word “genocide.”
“Here we have the prime minister who ordered this, I was hoping he would have that courage,” she said.
But Buller later said it wasn’t necessary for Trudeau to call it genocide.
WATCH: JWR reacts to the release of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls report
“We don’t need to hear the word ‘genocide’ come out of the prime minister’s mouth because the families have told us, the survivors have told us their truths.”
The MMIWG report has more than 200 recommendations for numerous levels of government.
They include a call for all governments to ensure that Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA people have “equitable access to basic rights such as employment, housing, education, safety, and health care,” and that such measures are recognized as a “fundamental means of protecting Indigenous and human rights.”
- With files from Amanda Connolly