Pamela Palmater: What does the election result mean for Indigenous women and girls?


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TORONTO, ONT — After spending $610 million on a snap election in the middle of a pandemic, we’re right where we started: a liberal minority government.

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As of this morning’s count, the Conservatives lost two seats, the NDP one seat and the Liberals one. Apart from this $610 million seat won by the Liberals, there would be no need to change the decorations in the offices in Parliament.

Everything is as it was before the election. This may be good for liberals, but the status quo is literally killing indigenous peoples with human rights abuses perpetrated by Canadian laws, policies and practices. So, what do the election results mean for Indigenous Reconciliation? This would make no sense unless federal parties worked together to prioritize ending genocide in Canada.


Just before the last election in 2019, a national investigation into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls found Canada guilty of both a historic and ongoing genocide of Indigenous peoples – one that specifically targets Indigenous women and girls .

  • Another minority government. now what?

It should have been treated as a national crisis and emergency measures should have been taken to address it. Instead, it took two years for liberals to “engage” with indigenous peoples and have also failed to take interim emergency measures.

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It’s not that the federal government doesn’t have the capacity to deal with a national emergency, as we saw how quickly they responded to the COVID-19 pandemic with public health measures and social support costing billions of dollars. This issue always seems to boil down to lack of political will.

In fairness, the Liberal government launched a national inquiry after a decade of former Conservative government refusing to investigate the disappearance or killing of thousands of indigenous women and girls.

Former Prime Minister Stephen Harper responded to a question about the crisis, “To be honest it’s not really high on our radar.” Liberals have taken more action than conservatives, but it sets a much lower bar—one that doesn’t move us from the study stage to concrete action.

The Liberals had more than two years to act on the findings of the national inquiry, but instead delayed action in favor of endless consultations. The Liberal Platform is committed to accelerating work this time on the Federal Pathway and the Joint National Action Plan.

However, none of those documents represent a plan of action to end the genocide immediately, but instead read more like a roll-up of federal programs and services already available. There is a clear lack of understanding of the national task that is needed to break out of a well-contained state system that perpetuates genocide.

Similarly, the Liberals plan to establish a tri-party table to work on the issue, but exclude First Nations government or indigenous women leaders from that table.

Given the lack of focus on addressing this crisis during his previous term or during his election campaign, there are legitimate concerns that addressing the genocide may not be a priority even in his first 100 days.

What the Liberal minority government needs to do now is to use Bill C-15 with other parties to address the historic genocide and ongoing genocide and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) as a guide. implementation is to be given priority. UNDRIP, along with other international human rights declarations, covenants and treaties to which Canada is bound, provide the human rights framework necessary to formulate a multi-pronged plan that focuses on the health, safety and well-being of Indigenous women.

There are relatively simple things this minority government can do in partnership with other parties, including: the First Nations in India Act to end sex discrimination against women and children, restore their membership in their home country of First Nations and decades. to compensate them for discrimination and exclusion.

The federal government can decide in court to stop fighting First Nations children in foster care, comply with Canadian Human Rights Tribunal orders to end racial discrimination in services, and allow them to be removed if they are removed. can compensate for the damages caused. their family.

They could choose to close the litigation in court against the survivors of St. Anne’s residential school; Finally hand over all documents related to abuse at those schools, and support First Nations in locating your missing children. All these decisions could have been made within the first 100 days.

There is clearly much more that needs to be done on an urgent short-term basis, such as the immediate protection of indigenous women and protection from violence coming from all levels of government, the extraction industry, policing and reforms and even more. that some segment society.

While short-term planning should focus on safety, it is important to remember that security includes erosion, and access to safe housing, clean water and quality health care.

If we do not root out systemic racism and malpractices in our societies and government institutions, we will not be able to end violence against indigenous women and girls that have their roots in colonial oppression and encroachment on our lands, resources, cultures and identities. are in possession. who support our self-determination.

All the main parties have promised (at least to some extent) to work towards these goals. Let us now see that they all work together to execute this.

Pamela Palmeter is a Mikamaw lawyer specializing in indigenous and human rights law. She is the Chair of Indigenous Governance at Ryerson University.


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