Status of Women Canada Ministerial Transition Book
Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls in Canada

Background

In May 2014, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police released a National Operational Overview on the nature and extent of missing and murdered Indigenous women in Canada. It reported that there have been 1,181 Indigenous female victims, including 1,107 homicide victims (1980–2012) and 164 missing (dating back to 1952). A 2015 update to the Operational Overview, focused on RCMP jurisdictions, reported that there were 32 homicides of Indigenous women in 2013 and 2014, which is consistent with trends over the past decade. Studies have pointed to a broad range of factors – including racism, poverty, low educational achievement and mental health and substance abuse issues – as contributing to the high rates of violence against Indigenous women and girls in Canada.

There have been continued calls for the government to do a national inquiry into this issue, coming from National Aboriginal Organizations (NAOs), the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the Council of the Federation, international bodies and other stakeholders. Dissenting reports in the 2014 Parliamentary Committee study, Invisible Women: A Call to Action, called for both a national inquiry and a national action plan.

In order to foster discussion amongst key decision-makers involved in responding to the issue, NAOs and provinces and territories hosted a National Roundtable on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls in February 2015. At its conclusion, Roundtable participants, including the federal government, agreed on the principles contained in a shared Framework for Action document, and to work together on a pan-Canadian prevention and awareness campaign, report on progress in one year, and meet again in 2016. The 2016 Roundtable is scheduled to take place early in the calendar year and will be hosted by the province of Manitoba, with Ontario leading on work to follow up on outcomes from the first Roundtable.

Current Status

The previous government’s response has been anchored in its Action Plan to Address Family Violence and Violent Crimes Against Aboriginal Women and Girls,” which falls under the leadership of the Minister Responsible for the Status of Women. This Action Plan was a response to the recommendations of the Parliamentary study, Invisible Women: A Call to Action. The Plan formally allocated $25 million over five years (2015 to 2020) announced in the 2014 budget. Under the Plan, Status of Women Canada is coordinating funding to address the issue through a series of initiatives delivered by Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC), Public Safety Canada, Justice Canada and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. The Agency is also supporting projects to engage men and boys in violence prevention and to empower Indigenous women and girls.

Currently, Status of Women Canada and INAC are jointly working on the development of a proposal with options to engage on the national inquiry on missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.

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