IWFA Committee Report
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Ms. Stella Ambler, M.P.
Dear Ms. Ambler:
On behalf of the Government of Canada, it is my privilege to respond to the recommendations of the Report of the Special Committee on Violence Against Indigenous Women, “Invisible Women: A Call to Action – A Report on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women.”
I would like to begin by acknowledging the Committee’s work in developing this Report. Family violence and violent crimes perpetrated against Aboriginal women and girls are of deep concern to all Canadians, and this Report reflects our commitment to address this issue.
As evidenced by the scope of the Report’s recommendations, addressing this issue and its underlying factors demands a strong response. This must include actions aimed at preventing violence from happening, providing support to victims and families as they seek justice and closure, and ensuring these crimes are thoroughly investigated and dealt with appropriately by the justice system. Most importantly, actions must be taken at the community level in order to ensure safe environments where victims feel empowered to report the crimes against them and where these crimes are not tolerated.
As the Committee is aware, in 2010 the Government announced a five-year strategy aimed at addressing violence against Aboriginal women and girls. That strategy centred on promoting community safety, and enhancing the justice system and the law enforcement response. During this time, the National Centre for Missing Persons and Unidentified Remains at the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) was established to coordinate the sharing of information and provide specialized support to law enforcement agencies across the country; 50 Aboriginal communities have been engaged in the community safety planning process; families were assisted to navigate the justice system and establish positive, collaborative relationships with police; responsive victim services have been established in seven provinces; and awareness activities were developed, to break the intergenerational cycle of violence
As the Committee knows, Economic Action Plan 2014 announced that the Government would set aside $25M over five years to continue its efforts to reduce violence against Aboriginal women and girls. In line with this commitment, and in response to the Committee Report, the Government has developed the attached Action Plan to Address Family Violence and Violent Crimes Against Aboriginal Women and Girls.
This Action Plan consolidates Government initiatives and builds on what we have learned. It organizes our actions under three complementary pillars:
The new investments are in addition to existing federal programs that support individual and community health for Aboriginal peoples, including education and skills development, shelter and housing supports, addiction and mental health services, income support, and access to a range of economic opportunities. They are also in addition to a range of specific programs and services provided by and through Aboriginal communities.
The Government knows that Canadians expect us to act decisively in addressing this very serious issue. Complementing our relentless efforts to ensure the safety and security of all Canadians, the Government’s Action Plan aims to ensure that Aboriginal women and girls are no longer victims of family violence and violent crimes.
Once again, I wish to thank the Committee for its work, and for providing the opportunity to highlight our ongoing efforts to improve the safety and well-being of Aboriginal women and girls in Canada.
The Honourable Dr. K. Kellie Leitch, P.C., O.Ont., M.P.