Madam Chair, I will be splitting my time with the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands.
First, I want to acknowledge that I join my colleagues here, and those present virtually, in Ottawa, which is on the unceded traditional territory of the Algonquin Anishinabe people who have lived on this land since time immemorial.
I too want to thank the member for Winnipeg Centre for her ongoing advocacy on this issue.
Tonight's debate reminds me of meeting for the first time with Bernie Williams and Gladys Radek, who came here to Ottawa on behalf of the families. They wanted us to know they wanted justice for the family member they had lost. They wanted healing for their families and they wanted concrete changes so no other families would need to go through what they had. They walked across this country seven times in the Walk4Justice.
It really was not until the death of Tina Fontaine, the surviving of Rinelle Harper and then the death of Loretta Saunders that the consciousness of all Canadians was raised.
This week, with the arrest of the serial killer in Winnipeg, it is a stark reminder of how indigenous women and girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people have been targeted and so disproportionately been murdered and gone missing. There is the serial killer in Prince George and the Highway of Tears, the horrific legacy of Robert Pickton.
On Monday I was able to be with my friend CeeJai Julian, a survivor from the Pickton farm. She reminds me every day of those we have lost and those whose lives, as well as the lives of their families and friends, have been changed forever.
Tonight's debate is about the hugely disproportionate numbers of indigenous women and girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people who have been murdered or gone missing. The numbers are horrific. Tonight we also must remember that they were mothers, daughters, aunties and nieces. They are loved and they are missed.
In 2016, when we launched the pre-inquiry, it was heartbreaking to hear first-hand from the circles of families and survivors coast to coast to coast. We had, I think, 17 circles, and they gave us advice on what they wanted to see in a national inquiry. They were also very clear, as we have heard tonight, that they wanted changes in policing and child and family services. They were clear that from the search to the investigation, from the charges being laid to the plea bargaining and to the sentence that the treatment was very, very different if the victim was indigenous.
We heard from families who, when their loved one went missing, felt they should not correct the missing person notice if it said that the person was white, because they felt the search, the investigation and everything would be different. We are really grateful to commissioners Marion Buller, Qajaq Robinson, Brian Eyolfson, and Michèle Audette who we are so proud to have here as a fellow parliamentarian in the other place, for their truly important report.
I particularly thank Gina McDougall-Wilson and all of those who served on the core planning committee to develop the national action plan. This week, I was honoured to meet with Sylvia Maracle, who chaired the subcommittee on the 2S chapter. I know it should be in the libraries of all the schools across this country how homophobia arrived on the boats and the history of how important the two-spirited people are in those communities, yet now they are so unfairly targeted.
Diane Redsky and her chapter on urban we know led to the $2.2 billion that was in budget 2021. We know we have very much more to do, but we are inspired by the changes in indigenous policing. There is Bill C-92, where families will be kept together. There is the incredible success of the rapid housing initiative for indigenous people.
Everyone who was at the Equal Voice reception tonight wishes that they could be part of this debate. We have a lot more to do and we will do it together.