Families deserve justice
Winnipeg is still reeling from the news of three more Indigenous women’s lives stolen by an alleged serial killer in our community. Our city is regrettably no stranger to this type of violence. As the former Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister has stated, Winnipeg is “ground zero” for what the National Inquiry into MMIWG and the Prime Minister have acknowledged as an ongoing genocide of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls, and Two-Spirit people (MMIWG2S).
I extend my love and solidarity to the families of Morgan Harris, Marcedes Myran and Buffalo Woman, as well as the family of Rebecca Contois, for whose murder the alleged serial killer was charged earlier this year. Families should not have to beg to be treated with dignity, including for garbage not to be dumped on the remains of their loved ones. Lives are precious, and the families deserve respect, dignity and closure.
We need resources to ensure the safety of Indigenous women, girls and two-spirit people. This includes investments in low-barrier safe spaces, transitional housing, resources for searches, and red dress alerts so that any time a woman goes missing, everyone knows about it and a search can begin. While $6.9 million in federal funding for a new and expanded Velma’s House in downtown Winnipeg, a 24/7 safe space for those fleeing gender-based violence, is welcome and badly needed, so much more needs to be done in Winnipeg and communities across the country. I will continue to advocate for the federal government to make immediate investments that address this crisis of violence.
That’s why I wrote to the Speaker of the House of Commons requesting an emergency debate on the issue of MMIWG2S. Although the Speaker denied this request, we were able to receive all-party consent for a special take-note debate on Dec. 7. It was an honour to share the words of Cambria Harris, daughter of Morgan Harris, during that debate so they will remain forever in the Hansard (the House of Commons’ permanent record).
It’s time to start ensuring that the 231 Calls for Justice from the National Inquiry are upheld. Far too many lives have been lost because the ongoing genocide against Indigenous women, girls and two-spirit people has been normalized. But this is not normal, this is a national crisis and when you’re in a crisis you can’t look away, you must act. We need action and justice for every family who has lost a loved one to this violence. Enough is enough.
Winnipeg Centre constituency report
Leah Gazan is the NDP Member of Parliament for Winnipeg Centre.