Conservative leader Andrew Scheer today reiterated his view that the inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) revealed a tragedy but did “not qualify as a genocide.”
A day after the MMIWG final report, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau accepted the inquiry’s findings that “this was genocide” for which Canada is now subject to an international probe.
Before the inquiry, a 2014 Royal Canadian Mounted Police study examined cases involving 1,181 indigenous women who went missing between 1980 and 2012 and noted a nearly identical success rate in solving homicides of non-indigenous and indigenous women.
But according to the MMIWG final report, which included testimony from more than 2,000 witnesses across the country over two years and cost $92 million to complete, the indigenous women and girls who disappeared are victims of a genocide.
“The ramifications of the term genocide are very profound. That word, term, carries a lot of meaning,” said Scheer. “I think the tragedy involved with murdered and missing indigenous women and girls is its own thing, it is its own tragedy and does not qualify as a genocide.”
Before Trudeau even made his pronouncement last Tuesday, the report prompted Organization of American States’ secretary general Luis Almagro to issue a request to probe the national inquiry’s conclusion.
“The mere presumption of the crime of genocide against Indigenous women and girls in your country should not and cannot leave any room for indifference from the perspective of the Inter-American community and the international community,” writes Almagro. “Given that your country has always sided with scrutiny and international investigation in situations where human rights are violated in different countries, I am expecting to receive a favourable response to this request.”
On the weekend, Crown-Indigenous Relations minister Carolyn Bennett told Global News that her government would support the OAS’s request to probe the MMIWG report’s genocide findings.
While Indigenous women and girls make up four percent of Canada’s total female population, according to statistics from the Department of Justice they are over-represented in female missing persons’ reports (10%) and accounted for 30 percent of the female homicide victims in 2014. Indigenous women also account for nearly 40 percent of the country’s female prison population.
The MMIWG report also includes 231 individual “Calls to Justice”— recommendations to governments and institutions at all levels with a goal of improve societal and justice outcomes for indigenous women and girls.