Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I'm joining you today from my home in Toronto, on the traditional territory of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation. I want to acknowledge that you're also on traditional territories.
I'm pleased to be here today to speak about the ongoing work to develop a national action plan in response to the issues identified in the final report and the calls for justice from the national inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women and girls.
I think it's important that we recognize that when we all come to terms with the horrifying images and stories over the past several weeks and the undeniable evidence of systemic racism in Canada, it is essential that all Canadians speak out against the racism inherent in colonization.
We need to call out misogyny and discrimination. In fact, it reflects the stories that we've heard for decades from the families and survivors of missing and murdered indigenous women and girls, two-spirit and gender-diverse peoples.
We will not be able to stop this national tragedy until we have dealt effectively with the systemic racism and sexism in our institutions from coast to coast to coast. Every day our hearts are with the families of missing and murdered indigenous women and girls, two-spirit and gender-diverse people and survivors. I promise we will not let them down.
I can assure members that our government is working on an urgent basis with our partners on further concrete actions to end the ongoing tragedy of missing and murdered indigenous women and girls, two-spirit and gender-diverse people, including the development of a national action plan.
We are grateful for all the work of all of the provincial, territorial and indigenous partners toward a national action plan, despite the challenges of COVID-19. Our shared work continues to seek justice and healing for the families and survivors. We are working to create the space where indigenous women, girls, two-spirit and gender-diverse people can take back their rightful place of dignity and leadership.
Since our government was elected in 2015, we have put in place concrete actions to address the national tragedy. The family information liaison units established in 2016 after the pre-inquiry were installed in victims services in every province and territory and have been very well received by families to help them navigate government agencies and to access all the available information they are seeking about their missing or murdered loved ones in the system, and to access healing supports.
Justice Canada is now providing funding to extend these supports to 2023. In 2017 we responded to the inquiry’s interim report with nearly $50 million of investments, increasing health supports and victim services for families and survivors, supporting the RCMP national investigative standards and practices unit and funding organizations with expertise in law enforcement and policing to review police policies and practices.
During the pre-inquiry, the stories of the families and survivors in their poignant testimony demanded changes to the damaging child and family services system, the need to value, preserve and protect indigenous languages and culture, the need toughen criminal law in cases of domestic assault and to eliminate gender discrimination under the Indian Act. We have legislated those changes.
Our historic investments in education, housing, policing and shelters are making a difference. We know more is needed and we are committed to continuing to make the necessary investments and to drive the needed institutional changes that will deal with the systemic and institutional failures that have led to this ongoing tragedy.
Our government, indigenous leaders, survivors, families and the provincial and territorial governments are working hard to develop the national action plan that will set a clear road map to ensure that indigenous women and girls, two-spirit and gender-diverse people are safe wherever they live.
This work began long before COVID-19 and remains a priority. In recent months, fighting COVID-19 has demanded the attention of all of our partners and has presented unique challenges to engagement for everyone. Since the election, we have been providing support to national and regional indigenous organizations representing women, LGBTQ and two-spirit people to ensure that first nations, Inuit and Métis voices are priorities at the centre of our work.
As I told the committee on Tuesday, for a national action plan to be truly accountable, we need to determine the indicators and reporting timelines to ensure an effective and accountable action plan. Governments must report, measure, adapt, measure and adapt. The families and survivors must be part of the work to make sure that this national action plan is truly effective.
The supplementary estimates (A), which passed this week, will provide the first $6 million of the $30 million over the next five years. We have committed to ensuring that families and survivors will be involved in assessing the results obtained by the national action plan and guiding the changes necessary to truly protect the lives of indigenous women and girls, two-spirit and gender-diverse people.
I really look forward to your questions and your advice as we go forward together.
Thank you. Meegwetch.