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Indigenous leaders and MMIWG families want movement on Calls for Justice

February 17, 2023

Assembly of First Nations’ national MMIWG gathering wraps up in Vancouver

A memorial for Red Dress Day, raising awareness about missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls at City Hall in Vancouver on May 5, 2022. A national gathering held by the Assembly of First Nations wrapped up two days of meetings in Vancouver Thursday, with aims to outlining the next steps for action to end violence against Indigenous women and girls.  (Ben Nelms/CBC)

CBC News: Assembly of First Nations Regional B.C. Chief Terry Teegee says families of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls (MMIWG) are frustrated with the lack of progress since the national inquiry ended nearly four years ago. 

The AFN’s National MMIWG2S+ Gathering wrapped up two days of meetings in Vancouver on Thursday. Families from across the country met with AFN regional chiefs and government officials to discuss a national action plan for MMIWG.  “The general temperature of what we’re seeing here at this meeting and also in other events of this nature is that there is a sense of frustration,” said Teegee.

“I certainly get it and I myself am frustrated in terms of the lack of progress.” 

The MMIWG inquiry’s final report in 2019 outlined 231 calls to justice — recommendations to all levels of government, including Indigenous governments and institutions like the RCMP. A national action plan to end violence against Indigenous women and girls was released in 2021.

Teegee said the momentum to implement these actions halted when the pandemic hit, and hasn’t picked back up.  “There needs to be more accountability especially in terms of implementing the action plan and and the proper resourcing that we’ve heard time and again that ministers promise Indigenous peoples,” said Teegee. 

He said dedicated resourcing and likely millions of dollars still needs to come from the federal government.  “I think [the lack of progress] really speaks to the lack of support and or political will from the federal and … all levels of government.” 

No one from the office of the federal MMIWG Secretariat, which attended the gathering, was available for an interview. In an emailed statement, the office said it “continues to monitor and track progress regularly to ensure accountability so that concrete differences in the lives of First Nations women and girls can be made.” 

The AFN national chief was unavailable for an interview. The AFN Women’s Council and Justice Secretariat did not respond to a request for comment. 

Data still needed, say families

Meggie Cywink, an MMIWG family member from Whitefish River First Nation, about 77 kilometres southwest of Sudbury Ont., said the discussions at the event were a good start, but she wants to see continued engagement from families while the calls for justice are implemented. 

“Families are still printing their own posters, families are still paying their own gas, families are still struggling to find their missing loved ones,” said Cywink. “That is not acceptable.” To ensure the calls for justice are being implemented, Cywink said an oversight committee needs to be appointed. 

She said the problem also needs to be quantified and that no one seems to have a clear answer about just how many women and girls are missing or murdered.  “How can you give money if you don’t know how many there are?” she said. 

Cywink has tracked MMIWG in Canada for about 10 years on her own and said she has roughly 1,825 people in her database going back to the 1800s. “I’ve made it my life’s work to … put a number to what the government is trying to do and they ought to do that themselves,” said Cywink. 


Jackie McKay, Reporter

Jackie McKay is a Métis journalist working for CBC Indigenous covering B.C. She was a reporter for CBC North for more more than five years spending the majority of her time in Nunavut. She has also worked in Whitehorse, Thunder Bay, and Yellowknife. Follow her on Twitter @mckayjacqueline.