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‘It’s time for action’: FSIN reacts to Sask. MMIWG progress report

June 7, 2024

Provincial report comes five years after national inquiry issued calls to action

A woman stands at a podium.
Justice Minister Bronwyn Eyre speaks Thursday in front of Saskatoon Police Service headquarters about the release of the Saskatchewan government’s progress report on actions being taken to address the issues of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls in the province. (Trevor Bothorel/CBC)

First Peoples Law Report: CBC News – The Saskatchewan government released a progress report this week on actions being taken to address missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls in the province.

The release of the 47-page cross-ministry report came five years after the initial national inquiry delivered more than 200 recommendations aimed at protecting Indigenous women and girls.

The province’s report notes that more than $300 million of funding in this year’s provincial budget will go toward providing increased support for First Nation and Métis communities, with an emphasis on safe housing, mental health supports and combating human trafficking.

 “A lot of the initiatives that are outlined in the report were and have been requested over the years,” said Saskatchewan Justice Minister Bronwyn Eyre.

“For example, second-stage housing certainly was something that had been called on by a number of groups.”

However, Indigenous representatives who were in attendance for the announcement said there’s a lot more work to be done. 

“It’s enough of these studies and enough of these reports,” said Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations third vice chief Aly Bear. 

“It’s time for action. It’s time for implementation of all of these calls to justice. But we have to do that together.”

Bear said she would have liked to see more collaboration between the government and the families who have had an Indigenous woman in their lives go missing. She said that while there is some funding for mental health supports, there needs to be more support for the next generation. 

A woman with long dark hair and sunglasses, wearing a black suit jacket with a red design on the lapel, stands at a podium with some people sitting on chairs behind her.
Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations third vice chief Aly Bear says ‘it’s time for action,’ not more reports, on the province’s missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. (Pier-Olivier Nadeau/CBC)

“When a child’s parent is missing or murdered, where is the support for that child?” Bear said.

“We want to protect the future generations because I’m a mother,” she said. “I have two daughters. I want them to be safe in this community and I want them to be able to feel safe going to the police.”

One of the initiatives the report highlighted is a $21.7-million investment into the RCMP First Nations Policing Program, which aims to provide First Nation communities with accountable and culturally appropriate policing services. 

Some of these funds are also going into the investigation of long-term missing persons cases provincewide, as well as a pilot project with the Saskatoon Tribal Council to help reintegrate women incarcerated for minor offences. 

Bear said although the report discusses addictions and sex trafficking prevention, it’s important to discuss how these issues arise in First Nation communities in order to stop them. 

“Everyone talks about them being vulnerable persons,” said Bear. “Well, how did they end up in that state?”

“We need to talk about the roots of the issues if we actually want to find solutions.”

A report this week by the Assembly of First Nations indicates that only two of the 231 calls for action from the final report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls five years ago have been fully implemented. 

With files from Pierre-Olivier Nadeau