Systemic racism against Indigenous women and girls

By: The Hon. Pierre Dalphond

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Hon. Pierre J. Dalphond: Honourable colleagues, for those of you who haven’t already done so, I invite you to read the statement issued by the Parliamentary Black Caucus. I wholeheartedly support it, and I hope other senators will do the same.

I would now like to read a statement on that subject on behalf of Senator Dyck. I have translated certain parts of her remarks.

On June 4, in Edmundston, New Brunswick, Chantel Moore, a petite young First Nations woman, was shot and killed by a police officer in the course of a wellness check.

Deepest condolences to her mother, Martha Martin, who said:

Instead of planning a celebration of accomplishments, I’ve had to go and plan a funeral for my daughter. It’s a pain I’d never wish to inflict on any person. . . . We want justice to make sure this never happens to another Indigenous woman or any person.

Sadly, Chantel Moore is now one of the 1,200 Indigenous women and girls who have gone missing or been murdered over the past 30 years. The rise in violence against Indigenous women and girls was first documented by Amnesty International in 2004, then by the Native Women’s Association of Canada in 2005 in a report entitled Sisters in Spirit. After a decade of denials, the RCMP finally published a report in 2014 acknowledging that the number of missing or murdered Indigenous women and girls was much higher than previously reported.

A decade of pressure from families, the public and parliamentarians led to a national inquiry, which documented the increased violence against Indigenous women and resulted in 231 calls for justice, issued in a report on June 3, 2019.

Exactly one year later, Chantel Moore was killed by a police officer in seemingly unjustified circumstances. In the interim, the government failed to bring forward an action plan in response to the NIMMIWG report.

To make matters even worse, the RCMP Commissioner, Brenda Lucki, who promised to “examine the systemic causes of violence against Indigenous women and girls in Canada, and prevent and eliminate further violence,” contradicted herself last week on the existence of systemic racism in the RCMP. This is unacceptable.

Senator Dyck concludes:

How many more Indigenous women and girls have to be killed before the federal government and the RCMP recognize and understand that individual racism and/or indifference and institutional systemic racism are root causes of the violence enacted against Indigenous women and girls?

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