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TORONTO, ONT – After spending $ 610 million on an early election amid a pandemic, we’re back to where we started: a Liberal minority government.

According to this morning’s tally, the Conservatives lost two seats, the NDP won one and the Liberals won one. Other than this $ 610 million Liberal seat, there will be no need to change the decor of the offices of Parliament.

Everything is as before the elections. It may be good for the Liberals, but the status quo is literally killing Indigenous peoples from human rights violations perpetuated by Canadian laws, policies and practices. So what does the election result mean for Indigenous reconciliation? It won’t mean anything unless the federal parties work together to make ending the genocide in Canada a priority.

Just before the last election in 2019, the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls found Canada guilty of both historic and ongoing genocide against Indigenous peoples – genocide that specifically targets women and men. native girls.

It should have been treated like the national crisis that it is and emergency measures put in place to deal with it. Instead, the Liberals took two years to “engage” with aboriginal people and failed to even take interim emergency measures.

It’s not as if the federal government doesn’t have the capacity to deal with a national emergency, as we’ve seen how quickly it has responded to the COVID-19 pandemic with public health measures and supports social costs costing billions of dollars. The problem always seems to come down to a lack of political will.

In all fairness, the Liberal government launched the national inquiry after a decade when the former Conservative government refused to investigate the thousands of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.

Former Prime Minister Stephen Harper answered a question about the crisis with “it’s not really a priority on our radar to be honest”. The Liberals have taken more action than the Conservatives, but that sets the bar very low – a bar that does not get us past the study stage to take concrete action.

The Liberals had more than two years to act on the findings of the national inquiry, but instead delayed action in favor of endless consultations. This time, the liberal platform is committed to speeding up work on the federal path and the joint national action plan.

However, none of these documents represent an action plan to urgently end the genocide, but rather read as a recap of federal programs and services already available. There is a clear lack of understanding of the national work required to break out of a entrenched state system that perpetuates genocide.

Likewise, the Liberals plan to set up a tripartite table to work on the issue, but do not appear to include First Nations government or Aboriginal women at this table.

Given the lack of focus on resolving this crisis during their previous tenure or during the election campaign, there are legitimate concerns that the fight against genocide will not be a priority during their 100s either. first days.

What the Liberal minority government must do now is work with the other parties to make the fight against the historic genocide and the ongoing genocide a priority using Bill C-15 and the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) as a guide. UNDRIP, along with the collection of other international human rights declarations, covenants and treaties to which Canada is bound, provides the human rights framework necessary to develop a multifaceted plan that emphasizes on the health, safety and well-being of Aboriginal women.

There are relatively simple things this minority government can do in partnership with other parties, including: ending gender discrimination against First Nations women and children in the Indian Act, restoring their First Nations membership Nations of origin and make reparations to them for decades of discrimination and exclusion.

The federal government could make the decision to stop fighting First Nations children in foster care in court, comply with Canadian Human Rights Tribunal orders to end racial discrimination in services and to compensate them for the wrongs caused to them when they were taken from their families.

They could choose to stop arguing against survivors of the residential schools in St. Anne’s in court; finally deliver all the documents related to abuse in these schools and help the First Nations find their missing children. These decisions could all be made within the first 100 days.

There is obviously a lot more to be done urgently in the short term, such as ensuring the immediate safety of Indigenous women and safety from violence from all levels of government, the extractive industry, police and service industries. correctional officers and even certain segments of society.

While the short-term plan should focus on security, it is important to remember that security includes removal from prison and access to safe housing, clean water, and quality health care.

If we do not eradicate systemic racism and misogyny in our own society and government institutions, we will not be able to end violence against Indigenous women and girls which has its roots in colonial oppression and dispossession. our lands, resources, cultures and identities that support our self-determination.

The major parties have all pledged to work towards these goals (at least to some extent). Now let’s see them all work together to put it into action.

Pamela Palmater is a Mi’kmaw lawyer specializing in Indigenous and human rights law. She holds the Chair in Indigenous Governance at Ryerson University.


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