That the First Report of the Special Committee on Violence Against Indigenous Women, presented on Friday, March 7, 2014, be concurred in.
Mr. Speaker, I would first like to say that I will be sharing my time with the member for Vancouver East.
In the first 100 days of the NDP government, we will launch a national inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women. We have to address the systemic causes of violence against the indigenous women and girls of this country. The structures and attitudes that allow this violence to continue must be examined, exposed and changed. The only way to do this at the national level is to establish a national public commission of inquiry.
Indigenous women experience more violence because they are indigenous and because they are women. Amnesty International found that indigenous women are most likely to die before non-indigenous women in this country, and are more likely to die violently.
In many indigenous cultures and societies, we are taught to honour women as life-givers, as knowledge-keepers, as storytellers, as medicine women, as word-carriers, as community members, and as human beings, and colonialism has impacted negatively on those values.
The violence that is perpetrated against indigenous women is the same violence against the environment today and the same violence that assaulted parents and grandparents in residential schools.
Let me quote from the Supreme Court of Canada in the case of R. v. Ipeelee. The court said:
To be clear, courts must take judicial notice of such matters as the history of colonialism, displacement, and residential schools and how that history continues to translate into lower educational attainment, lower incomes, higher unemployment, higher rates of substance abuse and suicide....
Yet the Prime Minister, incredibly, said not too long ago that we have no history of colonialism in this country.
Let me tell a story about a little boy named Jonish, who was sent to a residential school in 1954. He was five years old. He never came back. Apparently, he died the first year he arrived at the residential school.
His mom never knew, until after two years, of his death. His mom, my mom, for 40 years never knew where Jonish was buried. It was only by coincidence that one of my sisters happened to be in the area one day, and someone told her, “I know where your little brother is buried”.
After 40 years, my sister filmed the site where he was buried and brought the film back to my mom to show her. Just imagine. It was 40 years until she found out where my little brother lay.
I do not know if any of the members have seen their mother cry. I saw my mother cry many times, but the day she saw that video—I had never seen her cry that way. That was closure. That is what we call closure. That is the closest she could get to final closure for her son.
This is what indigenous families in this country need. That is what they want. That is why they are calling for this national inquiry.
Where is the Canada we used to know, the one that has a history of upholding high standards of human rights and social democratic values in this country? Where is it? Even when faced with fundamental legislative changes and challenges to the social structure, we used to have that Canada. It is no longer here.
Therefore, I submit very respectfully that an inquiry would fall into the legacy that this country has. That is why the NDP is calling for that inquiry and it is why the NDP, together with other families and Canadians across this country, want that inquiry.
I stand here today on behalf of the families of the missing and murdered indigenous women so that we can heed their calls for a national inquiry. It is their time. Let us give them their time so that they can get close to the closure that they also need.
That is why our party will call that inquiry no longer than 100 days after our election as a government. We will provide the justice that we all need.