Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter Statement on the Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls

Monday, June 3, 2019

We appreciate the enormous effort made by the commissioners and the tireless Inquiry team resulting with the Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.

As a party with standing we aimed to meaningfully contribute to the Inquiry by offering our front-line knowledge as we conducted cross examinations and delivered closing oral and written submissions.

From our initial review of the report and based on our area of work and expertise, we are pleased with many of the report calls and in particular with: the call upon all governments to immediately take all necessary measures to prevent, investigate, punish, and compensate for violence against Indigenous women, girls, and other vulnerable Indigenous people; the call for trauma, addictions, mental health and sexual exploitation and trafficking services; the call for support programs and services for Indigenous women, girls, and other vulnerable Indigenous people in the sex industry to promote their safety and security; the call for a guaranteed annual livable income; the call for adequate housing and safe and affordable transit; the call for civilian police oversight; the call for adequately resource legal aid programs; and the call to address the over-incarceration of Indigenous women.

However, we are critical of the refusal to name men as those who commit the violence against Indigenous women, girls and other vulnerable Indigenous people including two spirit, gay and transgender people (who are included in the acronym that is used throughout the report) and Indigenous boys. As the report accurately states: “Perpetrators of violence include Indigenous and non-Indigenous family members and partners, casual acquaintances, and serial killers.” Though those who commit violence against Indigenous women, girls and other vulnerable Indigenous people can be someone very close, a complete stranger or anything in between, the one thing they have in common is that they are men. Misogynist and racist men. That what makes violence against Indigenous women and girls “gendered oppression” as the report calls it. 

We are also critical of the consistently indiscriminate use of the umbrella acronym 2SLGBTQQIA whenever Indigenous women and girls are mentioned. This eliminates the particular oppression of Indigenous women and girls who are born into the oppressed class of female as they are born into the oppressed class of Indigenous.

And lastly, we are critical that the commissioners’ understanding of the violence and harm leveled at women in prostitution did not result with a call to end prostitution, the degrading and exploitative system that maintains men’s entitlement to Indigenous women and girl’s bodies.

Our critique aside, we recognize the many useful recommendations made by the commissioners of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls and call on all levels of government to promptly and diligently implement them in order to protect Indigenous women from men’s violence and get them closer to safety and freedom.