Federal government issues statement calling for greater equality on International Women’s Day

Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations Carolyn Bennett after signing a memorandum of understanding for Île-à-la-Crosse residential school survivors on July 19, 2019. (Jayda Noyes/Daily Herald)

The federal government issues a statement Monday honouring women, particularly Indigenous women and girls and Two-Spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex and asexual  (2SLGBTQQIA+) people.

In a statement signed by Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett, Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller and Minister of Northern Affairs Daniel Vandal.

The statement said the government is committed to supporting the leadership of First Nations, Inuit, Métis and women working hard to achieve gender equality.

The government said from coast-to-coast, it is participating in a two-day summit on Canada’s Feminist Response and Recovery, organized by Women and Gender Equality Canada. The summit will look at approaches to advancing gender equality as Canada recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic. It will also contribute to an action plan to address important issues affecting women in Canada, such as job loss, poverty and income equality.

“The pandemic has magnified the sexism, racism and marginalization faced by Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people,” the statement said.

It said those populations are at greater risk of domestic violence and economic insecurity, and that the shadow pandemic of domestic violence also has to be addressed.

“We know that staying at home is not always a safe option. Canada is firmly committed to advancing the safety, security and well-being of Indigenous women, their children and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people, by expanding culturally relevant supports and trauma-informed care for those who face gender-based violence,” they said.

The statement also acknowledged that systemic racism and inequality are a root cause of the tragedy of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people.

“We are responding to the priorities of Indigenous partners to address issues related to housing, emergency shelters and transitional housing for First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples across the country, whether on reserve, off-reserve, in the North, or in an urban area,” they said.

“We are committed to making transformative and substantive changes through the co-development of the National Action Plan to end the violence towards Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people. As a country, we must continue walking together on a path of healing and reconciliation.”

They concluded by encouraging all Canadians to celebrate women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people in their communities and by standing together to advance gender equality.