Madam Chair, I appreciate the opportunity to participate in this important take-note debate on combatting violence against indigenous women in Canada.
In each parliamentary caucus, we know that there are individual members who share information with each other and who shape our understanding of this particular topic. I want to recognize the member for Kenora, who just spoke, and many other members from our caucus who have contributed to my understanding of these issues, and members of other parties who have given excellent speeches tonight.
I want to express particular gratitude to my friend from Peace River—Westlock, who was such a champion for victims of violence and for indigenous peoples in his riding and beyond. His insights in particular have helped me and have informed my understanding. I have appreciated the legislative initiatives he has brought forward as well. Many important points have been raised by colleagues during this debate. In the brief time I have I do not want to repeat what has been said, but rather try to discuss some new points and some particular initiatives that we can pursue that will make a practical difference in terms of reducing violence against women, in particular, and against all victims.
My colleague from Peace River—Westlock has recently tabled Bill C-270. This bill would require that anyone making, distributing or advertising pornographic material must be able to demonstrate that those depicted in that material are over 18 and have given consent. The same member put forward Motion No. 47 in a previous Parliament to advance a study to examine the public health effects of easy access to violent and degrading sexually explicit materials. These initiatives are an important part of the fight against violence.
The fact that many boys are exposed to violent sexual material at a young age can shape a false perception on their part that violence in the context of sex is normal and desirable. Studying the effects of early exposure to violent sexual images, combatting the depiction of violence and pornography, and requiring meaningful age verification for those accessing pornography would go a long way toward combatting the normalization of sexual violence.
The taking of sexual images of minors, with or without consent, can contribute to cycles of violence and exploitation. Members from various parties have done important work holding Pornhub and other companies accountable for a failure to prevent non-consensual images from appearing on their platform, but more work is needed. The non-consensual distribution of intimate images is a form of violence in itself, and it contributes to further violence.
While private members' bills such as Bill C-270 are important ways of addressing these issues, legislation proposed by the government would have the potential to move much more quickly in this place, and we would welcome government action in this regard. Criminalizing the distribution of intimate images without clear age verification and the confirmation of consent would help to reduce the victimization of children, women and all Canadians.
I also want to highlight the action proposed in Motion No. 57, a motion I tabled in this House a few weeks ago. Motion No. 57 seeks to promote bystander awareness and intervention training as critical tools for combatting violence. Often, when we talk about violence, we think about the role being played by the perpetrator and the presence of the victim, but we need to think more as well about the role of the bystander, the person who is neither the victim nor the perpetrator, but who sees or is aware of the situation and has some capacity to do something about it.
Too often, well-meaning bystanders fail to intervene. Even if they do not lack for good intentions, they could fail to intervene because they do not react fast enough, because they fail to notice what is happening, because they are scared or because they do not know what to do that would be effective. I understand how it can happen and that good, well-intentioned people could fail to intervene, but as the saying goes, the road to hell is paved with good intentions. We can take concrete action to empower bystanders to know how to step up and make a difference, and that means providing potential bystanders with the tools and the information to react quickly.
Motion No. 57 is about asking the federal government to promote training so that more people have the tools and more people would be able to intervene effectively. Data consistently shows that bystander intervention training reduces violence. It may even deter crime if potential criminals are more likely to expect intervention by bystanders. I hope that Motion No. 57, as well as Bill C-270 from my colleague, will have the full support of colleagues and perhaps will be incorporated into government legislation.
We know that acts of violence disproportionately affect the most vulnerable communities that are already disadvantaged as well as victims of colonialism and other forms of violence, past and present. Indigenous women are particularly likely to be victims of violence. It shows up in the data on sexual assault, on all forms of violence and on human trafficking. I believe it is our obligation to address violence in general, to pay particular attention to those who are most likely to be victims, and to work on recognizing universal human dignity and empowering the most vulnerable.
Finally, I would like to emphasize that a great deal of harm has been done to indigenous people because of a lack of esteem and recognition for the value and dignity of the family. The horror of residential schools, in particular, involved children being taken away from their communities, and it also involved children being taken away from their families. This attack on the sacred bond between parents and children by a system that thought it had a right to replace parental authority with state-coordinated enculturation in dominant values was deeply evil. One of the key lessons that we should draw from this era is about the need to preserve and defend the parent-child bond from attacks by the state and by its institutions.