Mr. Speaker, I rise tonight with a really heavy heart to take part in this take-note debate. Unfortunately, the issue of missing and murdered indigenous women and girls is extremely prevalent throughout northeastern Alberta. One does not have to look very far to find way too many heartbreaking stories.
Here we are in the aftermath of hearing of more senseless deaths of four indigenous women from the Winnipeg region. I will read their names because we must not forget them. Rebecca Contois was 24 years old. Morgan Beatrice Harris was 39 years old. Marcedes Myran was 26 years old. Buffalo Woman was an unidentified loved one.
It is so difficult to sit here and hear that more women are going missing, more people are going missing, and we still do not have concrete action from the government. How many more people need to lose their lives before the government takes meaningful action? The government seems to be at a bit of a stalemate.
There is a lot of talk. There are a lot of grandiose statements. When push comes to shove, I do not see a lot of action that follows that. I tried to find online how many of the calls for justice were in progress. I could not easily find that. If members opposite have that information, it would be useful. I could not find it today. That goes to show there is not much progress on it.
As the member of Parliament for Fort McMurray—Cold Lake, my riding is situated on the traditional lands of Treaty 6 and Treaty 8, the territory of the Cree, the Dene and the homelands of the Métis people. This issue of missing and murdered indigenous women, girls and 2S+ people is a major concern throughout my riding.
I want to honour and acknowledge all the mothers, daughters, sisters, grandmothers, granddaughters, aunties, people and friends who are no longer with us because they unfortunately lost their lives. My heart goes out to all the family, friends and community leaders who have come together to share their stories, share their trauma, simply to demand action from our institutions and from the government.
The indigenous name for the Fort McMurray region is Nistawoyou. Since 2004, nine indigenous women from Nistawoyou have been reported missing or murdered. For the second time in this Parliament, I am going to read these women's names into the record: Elaine Alook, Shirley Waquan, Amber Tuccaro, Janice “Jazz” Desjarlais, Shelly Dene, Betty Ann Deltess, Ellie Herman, Audrey Bignose and Sherri Lynn Flett.
I take this opportunity to read their names because it is so critically important that we all remember we are not here talking about stats or something that happens distantly far away; these are people.
When I was a little kid, my mom was a hairdresser. She had a hair salon and barber shop in downtown Fort McMurray. Fort McMurray was sometimes a pretty rough and tumble place in the boom days. She would take us to her salon on Mondays. Her shop was always closed on Mondays, but she would often open up her salon on Mondays to serve indigenous community members who could not otherwise afford a haircut.
She would go down to the river and cut people's hair for free because she said, “If you look good, you feel good, and if you feel good, you're more likely to get a job. And do you know what? People are people.” My mom taught us from a really young age that if we treated people like people, they would act like people. That is a lesson that has stuck with me. My mom has been gone for about 13 years and that is something that I carry with me every single day.
We sit here and keep seeing women going missing because people are not treating them like people. They are treating them worse than they would treat animals. I am here begging the government to do more. It needs to use its voice and make a change. We all have this power.
This is a massive problem, and it is going to take every single one of us, but I challenge them to use the voice they have to make this a thing. I question why we are here doing a take-note debate and not an emergency debate. I do not know the answer to that, but it bothers me that this is the second time in six months that I have had the opportunity to speak in a take-note debate on an issue that is such a crisis in our country.
It has been more than three and a half years since the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls delivered its final report. It has now been one and a half years since the national action plan was released, yet we are here having another take-note debate. I am not quite sure what actions the government has been able to take in the six months since the last time we were here. I am not saying that as if it is somehow all the government's fault and therefore not ours, because it is every single person's responsibility to do everything they possibly can, but I really do think this is something that we need more action on.
The initial report concluded that indigenous women and girls are 12 times more likely to be murdered or go missing than members of any other demographic group in Canada, and 16 times more likely to be killed or disappear than white women. Those are staggering numbers that should give pause to anyone in this chamber. They are 12 times more likely to go missing or be murdered.
I want to read one particular story. It happened as I was an adult coming into my space, and it really hit me because she was almost my sister's age. Amber Tuccaro was 20 years old. She had a 14-month-old son. She lived in Fort McMurray and she was a Mikisew Cree First Nation member. She flew down to Edmonton, like so many people from Fort McMurray do, just to have a bit of a vacation, get away, get to the big city and maybe do some shopping.
She flew down with her son and a friend to go to Edmonton. Unfortunately, she was last seen on August 18, 2010. Fast forward a couple of years to when her remains were found by a few people out horseback riding. The case is still unsolved. Today, they still do not have any more answers than they did then. Her family has been actively pushing this issue, as so many families all across the country do.
It is left to the families to pick up so much of this, to bring these cases and these stories forward, to share their trauma and the worst situation they could ever imagine happening. It is left up to them because our institutions have failed. Our institutions are not protecting people. We are not allowing people to live in the dignity with which they were created to live in. There is more that each and every one of us can do, but specifically the government because it does have that ability and that power.
Therefore, I would like to give space to all of those who are struggling right now because they have just lost a loved one, a friend, a community member, someone they saw on the street, or someone they saw in their community coffee shop or just out and about. Perhaps it was someone they did not even know but who is close in age to them or close in age to someone else. As I was doing my research for this take-note debate, I could not help but reflect on the fact that some of these women who were murdered and who are gone were almost my age, they were younger than me or they were the same age as my siblings. That is a tough, tough space.
I really hope that six months from now we are not here doing another take-note debate, with no more action on this file, and simply here trying to do our best, as opposition, to bring more attention to this issue. With that, I would like to thank all the families for being so brave in sharing their stories.