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Indigenous Groups, Manitoba RCMP Partner to Address Violence in Communities

December 14, 2023 1:44 PM | The Canadian Press


By Brittany Hobson, The Canadian Press

Red Dresses - CMHR

A woman looks at the Red Dress-From Sorrow To Strength display in honour of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, part of the Indigenous Exhibit, at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg on Thursday, June 21, 2018. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods)

WINNIPEG — Indigenous groups and Manitoba RCMP are partnering to implement some recommendations in the final report from the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.

Police and representatives from various First Nations, Inuit and Métis groups say they will create a working group to plan how some of the calls for justice from the national inquiry can be carried out.

Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs Grand Chief Cathy Merrick said it represents a profound change for First Nations in Manitoba

“Finally, our voices are being heard,” Merrick told a news conference Thursday announcing the initiative.

“Today is a pivotal moment in our relationship between First Nations and the RCMP — a relationship that has been long and at times strained for our people and for our First Nations.”

Merrick added her organization looks forward to improving relations with the police service with the end goal of having a more “equitable, mutual, respectful and trusting” relationship between the RCMP and First Nations.

“It is comforting to witness an organization directly involved in the pain of our people take significant steps towards accountability,” she said.

The inquiry’s final report in 2019 included 231 calls for justice. Of those, 11 were directed at policing services in Canada.

Since the release of the report, Mounties have been working with Indigenous communities and leaders to determine 10 areas where officers can bring change to address violence against Indigenous women, girls, two-spirit and LGBTQ people.

The new working group is to look at what changes can be made in various areas of policing, including investigations, education, victim services and communication.

Merrick wants to see Indigenous groups in control of updated data of missing and murdered Indigenous peoples that also includes men and boys.

“We have to ensure that we do have a sovereign database for our people … that needs to be led by First Nations,” she said.

The working group is aiming to have its first meeting in February.

Assistant Commissioner Rob Hill, commanding officer of Manitoba’s RCMP, acknowledged the force had approached conversations around addressing violence in Indigenous communities with the wrong mentality.

“Previously, we came to the table with plans and strategies. But, we now recognize the necessity of coming to the table with open mind,” he said.

“We are committed to listening. We are committed to change and to the continuation of a reconciliation journey.”

Nastania Mullin, chief executive officer of the Manitoba Inuit Association, said he is “humbled” to see the RCMP collaborate with Indigenous communities.

“We are witnessing an unprecedented time in history,” Mullin said in a news release.

“(Manitoba RCMP) has acknowledged that there is a need for change and are addressing their commitment for truth and reconciliation.”

Indigenous women and girls continue to be overrepresented in homicide statistics in Canada and Manitoba in the more than four years since the inquiry issued its final report. They are six times more likely to be a victim of homicide than their non-Indigenous counterparts, data from Statistics Canada suggests.

In Manitoba, police say Indigenous women and girls have accounted for 21 per cent of homicides in RCMP jurisdictions in the last three years.

Eight Indigenous women have been killed this year in areas where RCMP are policing.

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