There is not one cause of violence against Indigenous women and girls, and likewise, there is not one single solution. A comprehensive, coordinated, well resourced national response, developed with Indigenous women and girls, is needed to end the violence.
What solutions are needed to stop the violence?
A comprehensive national response to end violence against Indigenous women and girls should include:
A national public inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women focused on exposing the nature of this violence and on ensuring government and police accountability for an effective and coordinated response.
A national action plan to end violence against women which addresses the root causes of violence and identifies holistic, culturally-appropriate ways in which to prevent violence and to support those impacted by violence.
Regular, comprehensive collection of data on violence against Indigenous women in official crime statistics.
National Public Inquiry
Indigenous women and girls, families who have lost loved ones to violence, National Aboriginal Organizations, and human rights groups like Amnesty International have long called for a national public inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls—a crucial component of a comprehensive response to ending violence against Indigenous women and girls.
In December 2015, the government of Canada launched the design phase for the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls in Canada. The inquiry is expected to commence in mid-2016. Amnesty International welcomes the announcement of the inquiry and calls on the federal government to ensure the inquiry is truly national in scope and can:
- Focus on the extreme violence faced by Indigenous women and girls and bring it to an end by setting out a clear plan of action for all levels of government;
- Expose the systemic factors contributing to and perpetuating this violence;
- Ensure the full and effective participation of affected families and communities; and
- Address the needs of Indigenous women and girls, and provide families the answers they need, across all jurisdictions in Canada.
- Recommendations from the Symposium on Planning for Change – Towards a National Inquiry and an Effective National Action Plan
- Prominent national organizations seek commitment that inquiry on missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls will be truly national and comprehensive
- Legal Strategy Coalition FAQ on public inquiries
- What exactly is a National Inquiry? #MMIW #OurInquiry
- #MMIW - New information about ‘serial killers’ another reason why an inquiry is so urgent
- Why is a national public inquiry on missing and murdered Indigenous women needed?
National Action Plan
A national action plan on violence against women must accompany the national public inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.
Amnesty International has long called for a comprehensive, coordinated national plan of action to address gaps in current policies, programs and services; involve Indigenous women’s organizations in identifying the necessary solutions; and ensure accountability in their delivery.
Implementation of a national action plan to end violence against women is also necessary to fulfill Canada’s international human rights commitments.
- Why do we need a National Action Plan on violence against women?
- Latest federal “action plan” on violence against Indigenous women short on “action"
Amnesty International has long called for systematic, publicly available data on the Aboriginal identity of both the victims and perpetrators of violence. Such data can be crucial to better understand and eliminate violence. Canadians need accurate and comprehensive statistics on missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls to ensure that the rights steps are being taken to address threats and ensure the safety of all women and girls.
In May 2014 the RCMP released the first federal statistics on how many Indigenous women and girls have gone missing or been murdered. At the time, Amnesty International expressed concern about the accuracy of the data, and maintains that the true number is likely far higher. In February 2016, federal cabinet ministers acknowledged that the true number of Indigenous women and girls whose lives have been stolen is likely far higher than reported by the RCMP.
- Legal Strategy Coalition on Violence Against Indigenous Women: Analyzing the 2014 Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) Report, Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women: A National Operational Review: A Guide for the Study of the RCMP Statistics in the 2015 Report
- New statistics on violence against Aboriginal people released
- Missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls: every life should matter
- The need for accurate and comprehensive statistics on missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls
- Missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls: Understanding the numbers
- New RCMP violence report highlights need to hold government and police accountable for failing Indigenous women and girls
Law enforcement has a vital role to play in ending violence against Indigenous women and girls. They are responsible for instituting procotols and training officers in how to investigate allegations of violence, as well as suspected missing persons and homicide cases, with the ultimate goal of providing protection to every person in Canada. Yet numerous studies of policing in Canada have concluded that Indigenous people as a whole are not getting the protection they deserve. If police are to provide Indigenous people with a standard of protection equivalent to that provided to other sectors of society, police need to understand the specific needs of Indigenous communities, be able to communicate with Indigenous people without barriers of fear and mistrust, and ultimately be accountable to Indigenous communities. As some police officers acknowledged to Amnesty International, this is clearly not the case today.
More commentary from Amnesty International on the solutions needed to end violence against Indigenous women and girls
- Missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls: Federal government response to UN expert committee finding of “grave human rights violations” shockingly inadequate
- Human rights investigations highlight Canada’s failure to meaningfully address violence against Indigenous women and girls
- What happened at the National Roundtable on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls?
- National roundtable on violence against Indigenous women: time to renew calls for effective, accountable and comprehension action
- Regional human rights body condemns Canada’s failure to address crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women
- No More Stolen Sisters: Open Letter from Amnesty International Secretary-General Salil Shetty to Canadian Parliamentarians
- Ending violence against Aboriginal women and girls must be a priority for Canadians in election year
- Letter to The Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of Justice and Attorney General on Violence against Indigenous Women
- Parliamentary Committee report fails Aboriginal women and girls and all Canadians