City of Saskatoon to review, respond to MMIWG calls for justice

Administration has been tasked with reviewing the report's 231 calls to action and examining how they can be implemented here in the City of Saskatoon.

Mayor Charlie Clark said the Prairie provinces are on the frontlines of MMIWG crisis

Saskatoon's city administration will review and respond to a report on the crisis of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. (Morgan Modjeski/CBC)

The City of Saskatoon will review and respond to 231 calls to action outlined in the final report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG). 

During their Monday council meeting, councillors unanimously approved a motion to have administration review the 1,200 page document to determine how the city can address calls to justice at a local level. 

After three years of meetings and testimony, the inquiry issued its final report on June 3, with an extensive list of calls for justice. It included a call for all governments to take "urgent and special measures" to ensure that Indigenous women, girls and members of the LGBT community are represented "in government governance and that their political rights are respected and upheld." 

The report also calls on governments to support First Nations and Métis communities in establishing "community-based trauma-informed programs" for survivors of trauma and violence.

Saskatoon Mayor Charlie Clark said the prairies are on the frontline of the MMIW crisis and says Saskatoon can become a leader in implementing the calls to action. (Bryan Eneas/CBC)

'Bring our sisters home'

During Monday's city council meeting, Karen Pelletier, with the RCMP's Indigenous Police Service, urged city councillors and members of the public to read the report and hear the stories of the women and families affected.

"We Indigenous women in front of you now, who have strong voices, will not let our sisters be forgotten. You have the power to include us as equals," she said.

"Join us in or walks and our gatherings to bring our sisters home. Denounce the violence against Indigenous females. Look upon the stereotypes, denounce those stereotypes. Visit our homes. Learn our truth as Indigenous women and be a positive change."

Saskatoon Mayor Charlie Clark said the city could show leadership right across Canada by adopting the motion and making efforts to implement the calls to action in Saskatoon, as the Prairie provinces are on the frontlines of the crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.

"This motion does have us join with Winnipeg, and I hope many other cities, in saying, 'What can we do at the local level to play our part?'" said Clark.

Statistics 'disturbing,' says mayor

Clark described the statistics outlined in the report as "very disturbing," with the report noting that Indigenous women and girls are 12 times more likely to be murdered or go missing than any other demographic group in Canada. They are also 16 times more likely to be missing or murdered than non-Indigenous women.

Darlene Rose Okemayism-Sicotte is the co-chair of the group Iskwewuk E-wichiwitochik (Women Walking Together), a grassroots organization in the city aimed at raising awareness about missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.

Okemayism-Sicotte said she feels councillors' endorsement of the review is positive.

"It's really comforting to have our city council and our mayor feel strongly about putting the motion in, and then voting unanimously to adopt to review it."

A national inquiry into the disproportionate number of missing and murdered Indigenous women started in September 2016. On Monday, Saskatoon city councillors approved a motion that will see city administration review and respond to calls to action outlined in the inquiry's final report. (CBC News)

Saskatoon just the beginning

She said she feels the vote sends a message to all of Saskatoon's departments and the general public that safety is a big issue, as she pointed to recent incidents of crime in Pleasant Hill.

"It just shows the public that they're being accountable," she said. 

Okemayism-Sicotte said she hopes to reach out to other communities in the province to see if they too will commit to reading the report, as Saskatoon has done. 

The report calls on people across the country to participate in the change, encouraging "every Canadian to consider how they can give life to these Calls for Justice."


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