British Columbia

Government 'committed' to MMIWG national action plan, minister says

The federal government is already taking action on the missing and murdered indigenous women and girls report with a national action plan to invest in housing, education and safety on the Highway of Tears, the Minister of Indigenous Services says.

'The key now is to move forward and act on the findings of the commission,' Seamus O'Regan says

'It weighs heavily on the heart and it just causes us to redouble our efforts ... to work harder to get more done as quickly as we can so that, frankly, people are just healthier and happier and that we don't repeat history ever again,' says Minister of Indigenous Services Seamus O'Regan. (Danny Arsenault/CBC)

The federal government is already taking action on the missing and murdered indigenous women and girls (MMWIG) report with a national action plan to invest in housing, education and safety on the Highway of Tears, the Minister of Indigenous Services says.

The MMIWG inquiry released its final report on Monday after three years of testimony from more than 2,000 Canadians. The report makes 231 recommendations to all levels of government, police, and public institutions to address the violence that permeates Indigenous women and girls.

The report includes 11 calls directed at the government related to human and Indigenous rights and governmental obligations including, to "develop and implement a National Action Plan to address violence against Indigenous women and girls."

"The key now is to move forward and act on the findings of the commission and there's a lot to do. But we are committed to it," minister Seamus O'Regan told Gloria Macarenko, host of CBC's On the Coast.

Highway of Tears

The minister says the government is currently working on 42 shelters on reserves, and will add four additional ones to their plan, as well as funding for a National Aboriginal Circle Against Family Violence to support shelters and staffing.

Meanwhile, O'Regan says the government has begun making safety improvements on the Highway of Tears — the stretch of Highway 16 between Prince Rupert and Prince George — including adding funding for cameras.

Indigenous advocates estimate that approximately 40 Indigenous women have been murdered or gone missing on the Highway of Tears. 

"We're seeing more money going toward infrastructure, education, social services, health care for Indigenous people than we ever have in our history," says O'Regan.

The Highway 16 corridor between Prince George and Prince Rupert is known as the Highway of Tears due to the number of women that have been murdered or gone missing along its length. (Simon Charland-Faucher/CBC)

Following the inquiry's findings, he says it's important for the government to roll out the National Action Plan as quickly as possible.

"It weighs heavily on the heart and it just causes us to redouble our efforts ... to work harder to get more done as quickly as we can so that, frankly, people are just healthier and happier and that we don't repeat history ever again," says O'Regan.

The report states that more than 100 Indigenous women and girls were murdered or have gone missing in British Columbia.

June 4, 2019 The Liberal government has promised to take action on the report in to Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. Seamus O'Regan is the Federal Minister of Indigenous Services. 10:04

With files from On the Coast