(Ottawa, ON) – Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde, together with the AFN Women’s Council, today released an action plan aimed at ending violence against First Nations women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people, urging enhanced and improved coordination efforts and resources to see real action and change to improve the safety of First Nations and assist families seeking justice.
“Every single person has the right to live free of violence and all forms of discrimination, and First Nations women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people should be no exception,” said AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde. “I urge immediate attention, coordinated action and adequate resources to bring life to the MMIWG Calls to Justice, and that includes acting on the First Nations specific action plan. The courage of survivors and families who have shared experiences and recommendations for action must now be matched by political will, a strong implementation plan and action by provinces, territories and the federal government.”
The 44-page report Breathing Life into the Calls for Justice: An Action Plan to End Violence Against First Nations Women, Girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA+ People was developed with direct input and contributions by First Nations survivors of gender-based violence and families of missing or murdered loved ones through an extensive and still ongoing engagement process led by the AFN Women’s Council.
It makes recommendations for coordinated action in four priority areas: • Justice: address barriers and inequalities in Canada’s justice system • Human security: ensure equitable access to basic needs, including shelter, food, and education
• Health and wellness: provide services and programs that are culturally appropriate and trauma informed
• Culture as safety: make cultural identity a priority in all preventative, supportive, and healing activities
“The First Nations action plan and the broader national action plan must both be a catalyst for urgent action and systemic change,” said AFN Women’s Council member Louisa Housty-Jones from the Heiltsuk Nation in BC. “The AFN Women’s Council continues to hear directly from survivors of gender-based violence and the families of missing or murdered loved ones to inform this work. No one in this country should be forced to wait any longer for justice and action toward safety and security for our people.”
This First Nations action plan is part of a broader plan developed in coordination with the National Families and Survivors Circle, federal, provincial/territorial, municipal and Indigenous governments, Indigenous representative organizations, and Indigenous partners and communities. Both reports are in response to the 231 Calls for Justice
from the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls released two years ago today.
The work of the AFN to develop this report is guided by resolutions adopted by Chiefs in-Assembly. In July 2019, Chiefs-in-Assembly adopted Resolution 67/2019 – Development and Implementation of a National Action Plan on Violence Against Indigenous Women, Girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+. Resolution 67/2019 directs the AFN to seek appropriate resources and funding for the AFN Women’s Council to co-ordinate its own engagement with First Nations on a National Action Plan and to develop a First Nations women-led National Action Plan with input from the regions and First Nations survivors, families, and grassroots family coalitions.