The Current

Indigenous communities need to see government action on MMIWG, not just words, says reporter

Indigenous communities were critical of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau taking a day to say his government accepts that the murders and disappearances of Indigenous women and girls across Canada amount to an act of "genocide," says APTN reporter Kathleen Martens.

Indigenous voters are upset at Trudeau's delay in using the word genocide: Kathleen Martens

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stands after being presented with the final report at the closing ceremony for the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls in Gatineau, Que., on Monday, June 3, 2019. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

Transcript

Indigenous communities will need to see strong action from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau before "they would even consider voting for this government again," according to a reporter with the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN).

Kathleen Martens said that many Indigenous voters are upset at Trudeau's delay in using the word genocide to discuss the findings of the missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls inquiry.

"This report comes down. It has a very strong finding. It uses strong language," she told The Current's Anna Maria Tremonti.

"And yet the government, you know, the prime minister doesn't even say the word or accept the report's finding in front of the audience that really needed to hear it."

Trudeau promises action on MMIWG report

3 years ago
Duration 1:02
PM Justin Trudeau promises to work with Indigenous partners and turn the inquiry’s Calls for Justice into real, meaningful, Indigenous-led action.

The inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls released its final report Monday, calling the level of violence a "Canadian genocide."

Trudeau didn't use the term during his speech at the inquiry's closing ceremony on Monday — but did take the step a day later.

"We accept their findings, including that what happened amounts to genocide," he told a crowd in Vancouver Tuesday.

"There are many debates ongoing around words and use of words. Our focus as a country, as leaders, as citizens must be on the steps we take to put an end to this situation."

A weighted word

J.P. Tasker, senior writer with CBC's  parliamentary bureau, says the prime minister may have omitted the term to keep the focus on the 1,200-page report and its 231 "calls for justice."

Using the word genocide is "a profound statement" that could carry "international implications," he explained. 

"We could be hauled in front of the UN."

Instead, "he was trying to say, 'Listen, we can have this debate. It's a worthy one. I accept the inquiry's findings. But let's not focus on that one word alone.' That's perhaps good advice," said Tasker.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, left, holds a copy of the report presented to him by commissioners Marion Buller, centre, Michele Audette, third from right, Brian Eyolfson, second from right, and Qajaq Robinson at the closing ceremony for the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls in Gatineau, Que., on Monday, June 3, 2019. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

Author and Toronto Star columnist Tanya Talaga was there in the audience during Monday's ceremony. She said Trudeau's initial avoidance of the word genocide spoke volumes to the Indigenous community.

"We all heard him not say the word genocide," said Talaga, author of All Our Relations: Finding the Path Forward.

"While he said it later on ... You have to believe the word. It's not just about saying the word. This is not just about semantics."

Click 'listen' near the top of this page to hear the full conversation.


Produced by Idella Sturino and Max Paris.

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