Madam Chair, I want to take a moment to acknowledge my colleagues, the member for Winnipeg Centre and the member for Nunavut, who spoke very powerfully and so starkly about the situation that indigenous women and girls face.
I was reflecting about what I was going to say and I changed my mind about 100 times. I have landed on this. I reflected back to seven years ago when the government made the announcement that it was going to initiate a national inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women and girls. I have to say my heart sang with joy thinking of the changing moment, the significant moment where the voices of indigenous peoples and families had been heard finally, and the government of the day was going to do something about our stolen sisters, indigenous women and girls.
I was not part of the Liberal government. I am still not part of the Liberal government. I will never be a Liberal member. However, my heart sang with joy, because of the hope that it represented. Then as the work continued, I started to have a sinking feeling. Reflecting back, Marion Buller, the lead commissioner, and her team advised nine months into the inquiry that they were using their own personal cellphones and their own email. They did not have office space to undertake the work.
Fast forward to after the report was put out, where a genocide had been recognized even by the government, and 231 calls for justice had been put on the public record. The government promised that it would put forward an implementation plan. Three years later, where is that implementation plan? It is nowhere to be found.
It is not just New Democrats who are saying this. Marion Buller said on the public record that the federal government had “fallen flat on its face”. She said:
We don’t have an implementation plan. There hasn’t been any sort of cohesive statement on the part of the federal government about what it plans to do. There is no looking forward. If there is an implementation plan, I don’t know about it and they’re keeping it quiet. But, they have quite literally fallen flat on their face in terms of their responses.
She said, “I just find it appalling that the genocide is continuing, because it is and they’re not being held accountable.”
That is the reality of where we are today. Consequently, we in the community and my colleagues see loved ones of family members grieving, in pain and in anger at the loss of their loved ones. Hence we are having this debate tonight.
Tonight I had the pleasure, the honour and the privilege of meeting the family members just outside of the chamber. I shook their hands, looked them in the eye, and made the commitment that we will never stop fighting, even when they leave this place. We should not have to do this time and time again. We should not have to say the names over and over again, and each time with different names, with more hurt, more pain and so much loss, with hope dashed to say that something will happen.
My riding of Vancouver East is very similar to that of my colleague's in Winnipeg Centre. I remember so many years ago when I was just an activist, walking the streets, doing rallies and protesting about a serial killer in Vancouver East. People denied it. When we raised it, people accused us of trying to obstruct justice by suggesting that there was a serial killer and demanding an inquiry.
To the names of the people who have been brought up today who went missing and who have been murdered, Morgan Harris, Marcedes Myran, Rebecca Contois and Buffalo Woman, I add these names: Tatyanna Harrison, Chelsea Poorman, Noelle O'Soup and Ramona Wilson. These are just the latest few, and there are so many more.
They do not have to be dead. They did not have to die this way. It does not have to be this way. For tonight, once and for all, will the government take action and fully implement the 231 calls for justice?