A red ribbon attached to an eagle feather is held up during ceremonies marking the release of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women report in Gatineau, Monday June 3, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Policing community eyes change after missing, murdered Indigenous women inquiry

Canada still needs an independent national police task force, report says

Melanie Morrison says her sister went missing in June 2006 — a unusual disappearance because she was a young mother.

She says when their mom went to police, her sister was presumed to be “out with friends” and the police figured she’d show up.

Four years later, Morrison’s sister’s remains were found.

“It was devastating because where she was found was less than a kilometre from her home,” wrote Morrison, a member of a volunteer advisory circle for the national public inquiry, as part of the foreword to the commission’s final report.

She also said the way police files on Indigenous women are treated is wrong — a central thread in the federally funded commission’s findings and recommendations published on Monday.

“My hope would be that there is an immediate change of how the police handle Indigenous files on- or off-reserve so there’s no delay in pursuing every possible option to find that missing or murdered loved one,” Morrison said.

Monday’s report contains 231 recommendations, framed as “calls for justice,” including standardized response times to reports of missing Indigenous persons and women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA (two-spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex and asexual people) people experiencing violence.

The commission also called on the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police to make sure there is consistency in reporting when people go missing or are found dead.

The association, which had standing at the inquiry, said it is grateful to be trusted with the responsibility, adding it will study the commission’s findings, its recommendations and how the police chiefs can assist police services across Canada.

VIDEO: Trudeau accepts inquiry finding of genocide, but says focus must be on response

Concerns about the RCMP were also raised in the final report — findings the national police force said it accepts.

In a statement, Commissioner Brenda Lucki said her force has already started to work on policy and procedure changes during the course of the inquiry’s work, such as creating a national unit to help with major investigations and in updating policies and procedures for missing-person and sudden-death investigations.

Lucki also said the Mounties will carefully consider changes that strengthen investigations, support survivors and families and reduce violence.

“During my appearance before the inquiry in June 2018, I apologized to the families of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls on behalf of the RCMP, and promised that we will do better to investigate these cases and support families,” she said.

“We are committed to achieving reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples through a renewed relationship built on the recognition of rights, respect, co-operation, and partnership.”

The inquiry’s interim report, released in November 2017, called on the federal government to work with the provinces and territories to create a national police task force where families and survivors could seek to reopen cases or review investigations.

READ MORE: ‘Now the real work begins:’ Families urge action after missing women inquiry report

In response, the federal government announced that it would provide $9.6 million over five years to support the RCMP’s new national investigative standards and practices unit to provide national oversight to major investigations.

This does not fulfil the national inquiry’s recommendation, the commission’s final report says.

Canada still needs an independent national police task force specifically designed to meet the needs of family members and survivors of violence against Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA people, it adds.

“Our most important objection to providing additional funding to the RCMP in this manner is that, once again, this involves police policing themselves,” the report says.

“The RCMP have not proven to Canada that they are capable of holding themselves to account — and, in fact, many of the truths shared here speak to ongoing issues of systemic and individual racism, sexism, and other forms of discrimination that prevent honest oversight from taking place.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Tuesday in Vancouver that the government is working on a national action plan in response to the inquiry’s final report and it will be ready in ”the coming months.”

With a federal election looming in October, Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde urged all federal parties on Tuesday to make responding to the inquiry one of their key platform planks, saying they have an obligation to do so.

READ ALSO: Train health-care providers to ditch racism as part of Canada’s cancer strategy: report

—With files from Jim Bronskill

Kristy Kirkup , The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Tough year ahead for the aluminium industry

U.S. market is still Canada’s most important

Kitselas receive $1.2M boost for apprenticeship development program, open to Tsimshian and Haisla Nations

Melanie Mark, Minister of Advanced Education announces $7.5M for six Indigenous training programs

PHOTOS: Heavy snowfall breaks window, causing avalanche into Northern Sentinel office

It was a chaotic start to the week for the Kitimat Northern Sentinel

B.C. premier talks forestry, service needs with handful of northern mayors in Prince George

Prince George meeting completes premier’s tour of Kitimat, Terrace, Fort St. James and Quesnel

Indigenous LNG supporters chide human rights advocates over pipeline comments

Coastal GasLink has signed agreements with 20 elected First Nation councils along the pipeline’s 670-kilometre path

VIDEO: Mass coronavirus quarantines seen in China won’t happen in Canada, authorities say

‘If a case comes here, and it is probably … it will still be business as normal’

Province’s oldest practising lawyer shares advice at her 100th birthday party

Firefighters bring Constance Isherwood a cake with 100 birthday candles

Vernon woman suing McDonald’s for spilled coffee

Woman seeking nearly $10K, says employee failed to put lid on properly

Diners’ health tax not catching on in B.C., restaurant group says

Small businesses look for options to cover employer health tax

B.C. comic wins judgment after club owner slaps cellphone out of his hands

Incident happened last summer when Garrett Clark was performing in Abbotsford

Mayors call for ‘calmness’ as highway rockslide cuts Tofino, Ucluelet off from supplies

Ministry of transportation expects to open road for “essential travel only” from noon-8 p.m. Friday.

Owner surrenders dog suffering from days-old gunshot wound to B.C. SPCA

The dog was also found to be emaciated and suffering from a flea infestation

B.C. man dies after police called for ‘firearms injury’ in rural Alberta

Victim is 30-year-old Greater Victoria man, say police

Most Read