PILC’s Efforts to End All Forms of Violence Against Indigenous Women and Girls
Since 2014, the Public Interest Law Centre (PILC) has been collaborating with the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (AMC) in their actions to address the crisis of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG).
In 2014 and 2015, PILC and AMC worked together to prepare a proposed regional and First Nations specific process to address the inactions by government relating to MMIWG. During that period, PILC and AMC engaged with several family members, survivors, and community members; grandmothers and elders; youth representatives; and a coalition of service providers. In support of the engagement process, PILC along with a team of pro bono lawyers prepared a number of research tools. The efforts resulted in a Report and proposed approach addressing MMIWG entitled “Families First”. More information on the approach and report which was unanimously endorsed at the regional and national levels can be found here: Families First Report
In 2015, the federal government launched a public inquiry into MMIWG in order to look into the systemic causes of all forms of violence against women and girls, including sexual violence. PILC represented AMC in the National Inquiry into MMIWG from the very beginning of the process. The hearings began in 2016 and ended in 2018. AMC through its PILC legal counsel participated in many aspects of the Inquiry, including by bringing forward an expert witness, Ms Cora Morgan (First Nations Family Advocate) on the direct link between the child welfare system and MMIWG, through attendance and participation at hearings across Canada on the systemic failures which perpetuate violence against women and girls, and through the preparation of oral and written closing arguments.
AMC and PILC delivered their oral closing arguments at the national inquiry on December 10, 2018. AMC’s closing arguments speak to four truths:
- Canada is in a state of emergency – far too many First Nation women and girls have gone missing and have been murdered.
- The crisis of MMIWG is a direct result of colonization. Colonial policies and laws that have been imposed upon Indigenous peoples have funneled First Nations women and girls into vulnerable situations which place them at higher risk of going missing or being exploited and/or murdered.
- Keeping First Nations women and girls safe requires a return to First Nations ways of being and knowing. The only way to prevent future violence is to move away from colonial laws and policies and return to First Nations laws and institutions as the system is broken beyond repair.
- First Nation women and girls are sacred and powerful and meaningfully addressing the crisis of MMIWG requires a fundamental paradigm shift.
A copy of the written closing arguments, submitted on 15 December 2018, can be found here:
The National Inquiry presented their final Report in Gatineau (QC) on 3 June 2019. A copy of the final report can be found here:
Final Report Vol 1a