N.W.T. MLA says she's 'insulted' by lack of MMIWG action plan

The MLA for Inuvik Twin Lakes, who is also the daughter of a woman who was murdered by a common-law partner, used a four-minute member's statement to condemn the response so far and call for justice for missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.

Lesa Semmler's mother was also murdered by a common-law partner in 1985

Inuvik Twin Lakes MLA Lesa Semmler used her member's statement Wednesday to slam the federal government's delay in implementing an action plan on the report from the inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. (Mario De Ciccio/Radio-Canada)

Lesa Semmler isn't buying the reasons offered by the federal government for why it has yet to release an action plan one year after the inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls wrapped. 

"I must say, I was terribly disappointed and I was insulted," Semmler, the MLA for Inuvik Twin Lakes, said Wednesday in the N.W.T. Legislative Assembly.

Semmler slammed the government's lack of response in a four-minute member's statement, saying COVID-19 is not an acceptable reason for the delay, calling it an "excuse." 

"They've had 10 months since they received the report, it's not as if they have not heard the requests again and again," she said. 

The federal government is under fire from the most prominent Indigenous women's organization in Canada as well as from former commissioners of the inquiry for failing to release an action plan. On Wednesday the Native Women's Association of Canada issued a scathing report card, saying Canada is failing to live up to its obligations to the 231 calls for justice from last year's report. 

For its part, the federal government said it's still consulting with Indigenous women's groups, leadership, and provincial and territorial governments. 

[We] cannot have any more blood on our hands, lose any more loved ones.- Lesa Semmler, Inuvik Twin Lakes MLA

Semmler added her voice to that criticism as a politician, but also as an Indigenous woman, as a mother, and as an aunt of Indigenous women and girls. 

"We can't afford any more delays when it comes to the safety and protection of our women and girls and to us LGBTQ2IA people," she said. 

WATCH | Lesa Semmler testifies at the MMIWG inquiry in Yellowknife in 2018:

Lesa Semmler testifies at MMIWG Yellowknife

5 years ago
Duration 1:51
Lesa Semmler was eight years old when her mom, Joyce Semmler, was murdered.

Semmler, a first-term MLA, known as an advocate for increased safety for Indigenous women and girls, was a key part of representing the North during the inquiry. She was one of the first people to testify in Yellowknife, telling the inquiry about the murder of her mother, Joy Semmler, in 1985.   

    On Wednesday, Semmler asked the territory to lobby the federal government to release an action plan as soon as possible, since it's the first step to bring justice for those missing and murdered women and girls. Meanwhile, she called for the territory to develop its own action plan. 

    "We cannot afford to wait any longer," she said. "[We] cannot have any more blood on our hands, lose any more loved ones."

      It remains unclear how long the government will take to develop its action plan. 


      • An earlier version of this story identified Lesa Semmler's mother as Joyce. In fact, her name is Joy.
        Jun 03, 2020 6:52 PM CT