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Time to act

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The final report of the national inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls has been released, weighing in at 1,200 pages and providing a total of 231 recommendations.

The 2015 Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada report, coming in at over 2,500 pages in six volumes, produced 94 recommendations.

The Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, chaired by René Dussault and Georges Erasmus, issued its final report in November 1996—a work five years in the making which totalled over 4,000 pages—listed 440 recommendations calling for sweeping changes to the relationship between Aboriginal, non-Aboriginal people and the governments in Canada.

Erasmus and Dussault provided the Harper government with a 20-year plan to reset the relationship between Canada and its Indigenous peoples.

While campaigning in 2015, Justin Trudeau declared that his government would implement all 94 recommendations in the TRC report.

But little has happened in the intervening years. Little has happened since 2015. Calls for action have gone unheeded. Many recommendations have not even been partly followed up.

The issues from the Erasmus-Dussault report have come up again in the latest report, but the language has grown stronger and the reference to cultural genocide has grown in intensity.

Canada and First Nations have studied the problems long enough, documented the abuses, the quality of life on First Nations, the lack of employment on First Nations, and the poor quality of health and social support services. We don't need a fourth report.

The country is looking to see change. The recommendations from all the volumes have been well-researched.

Some of the recommendations appear easy to implement:

  • Create a national action plan to ensure equitable access to employment, housing, education, safety and health care;
  • Provide long-term funding for educational programs and awareness campaigns related to violence prevention and combating lateral violence (violence committed by one Indigenous person against another);
  • Create a guaranteed, annual livable income for all Canadians, taking into account “diverse needs, realities and geographical locations”; and
  • Fund training and education for Indigenous people to thrive in school, health care, media, policing, law and other fields.

One of the most glaring recommendations was for Canadians to develop knowledge and read the final report. History has shown that few members of Parliament had even read the earlier reports.

The time for study is over.

The maps have been drawn several times all with many of the same recommendations. It is time for our government to act.

—Jim Cumming

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