OTTAWA – The Liberal government must listen to Indigenous families and set out broad terms of reference for any national inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women and girls, according to NDP Status of Women Critic Sheila Malcolmson (Nanaimo – Ladysmith).

The draft terms of reference, leaked to the media this week, fail to include looking into the role of police or police conduct, even though this was flagged by the families as something that should be a priority for the inquiry.

“We heard from Indigenous families that the inquiry must look at systemic factors – including the roles of everyone from politicians and government, to police and prosecutors,” said Malcolmson. “As drafted, the scope falls short and it is critical that consultations with Indigenous families and communities affected be central to drafting the terms of reference.”

The NDP is also asking the Liberal government to not wait for the inquiry to take action to address chronic issues such as affordable housing, shelter funding, and hundreds of recommendations from previous inquiries never acted on.

With leadership from Indigenous communities, specifically Indigenous women, Canada must develop and implement a national action plan to address violence against Indigenous women and girls that addresses the structural root of the violence, as well as the accountability and coordination of government bodies charged with preventing and responding to violence.

“We strongly welcome the inquiry, but the Liberals have a lot of work to do, to establish their credibility and make their actions match their words. Including, for example, urgent investment to address things like the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal’s ruling on federal discrimination against indigenous children – investments missing from their budget,” added Malcolmson.