The deaths of thousands of indigenous women and girls in Canada in recent decades amount to a national genocide, a special commission concluded in a report last week.
The three-year inquiry into murdered and missing indigenous women found that national policies and state indifference repeatedly contributed to violence. Over the past 30 years, as many as 4,000 indigenous women and girls have reportedly been killed or gone missing, although the actual number could be higher.
The 1,200-page report, titled “Reclaiming Power and Place,” pointed to government-sanctioned residential schools for indigenous children in the 1880s, where the children faced “starvation, deliberate infection of diseases, beating, torture, rape, solitary confinement, assaults, and ill-treatment.”
The report said the genocide has persisted in the absence of police protection for indigenous women, the excessive detention of indigenous children in the child welfare system, and the continued existence of the 1876 Indian Act.
“These historical policies are appalling in their systematic destruction of indigenous communities, but what is more appalling is that many of these policies continue today under a different guise,” it said.
The report listed 231 recommendations, including equal funding for indigenous police services and the enactment of missing persons legislation in all provincial and territorial governments.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the report heralded an uncomfortable day for Canada. “We have failed you,” he said. “We will fail you no longer.” —O.O.