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Call it 'genocide': Vancouver lawyer says it's time for government to act on MMIWG report

Last Updated Jun 4, 2019 at 6:52 am PST

FILE: Vancouver Missing and Murdered Womens March 2018 (Photo by Lasia Kretzel)
Summary

A local lawyer is calling the final report into Missing and Murdered Indigenous women a step in the right direction

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — An Indigenous lawyer is calling the final report into Missing and Murdered Indigenous women a long-awaited step in the right direction.

The 1,200-page report labels the violence suffered by Indigenous women and girls a “genocide” and crisis “centuries in the making.”

As a Metis woman herself, Kyla Lee, a lawyer with Acumen Law, says the final report and recommendations are a glimmer of hope for victims and families.

RELATED: Explained: Why the MMIWG commission invoked ‘Canadian genocide’

She says with thousands of Indigenous women missing and murdered in Canada, it’s clear the federal government needs to make meaningful changes.

“The government should start the process now, so that even if we have a government change after the federal election, we at least have the wheels in motion, so there is some comfort that action is being taken,” she says.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said his government will address the more than 200 recommendations with “real, meaningful, Indigenous-led action.” However, he hasn’t used the term “genocide” himself, something Lee says is a problem as it minimizes violence geared at Indigenous women.

“It is troubling that word wasn’t adopted by government when it was very clearly identified in the report as being the accurate description of what’s going on,” she says.

In the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls report released Monday, the inquiry’s commissioners argue that the actions and omissions of the government, police and justice system has made them complicit in genocide against Indigenous women and girls.

WATCH: Report on murdered, missing Indigenous women released

Lee says that term is the correct way to identify the issue.

“I am very pleased to see that we have an official recognition now in an official government-initiated inquiry that what has happened in Canada, with respect to violence and missing and murdered Indigenous girls, has been something that has amounted to genocide,” she says. “I think it is very important to use terminology like that to identify this for what it is.”

RELATED: All Canadians have a role to play in ending MMIW ‘genocide’: report

She says while many people consider genocide to be an intentional act of eliminating a culture, the term can be applied more widely.

“When you’re fully aware — as our government has been, as our police forces have been, as people involved in the justice sysem have been — about how significant and pervasive violence and the ultimate issue of missing and murdered girls who are of Indigenous heritage has been, I think using the term genocide encompasses what is essentially willful blindness up until now on the part of government and the justice system and the police to this issue,” she says.

You can read more about the report here.

– With files from the Canadian Press