OTTAWA (Reuters) – The deaths in Canada of more than a thousand aboriginal women and girls in recent decades was a national genocide, a government inquiry into murdered and missing indigenous women concluded in a report on Monday.
The 1,200-page report, which resulted from an inquiry launched by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government in 2016, blamed the violence on long-standing discrimination against indigenous people and Canada’s failure to protect them.
It also made sweeping recommendations to prevent future violence against indigenous women.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police revealed in 2014 that 1,017 aboriginal women had been murdered between 1980 and 2012.
The inquiry, which was beset by delays and staff resignations, opened painful wounds as it heard testimony from 468 family members of missing or murdered women.
“This colonialism, this discrimination and this genocide explains the high rates of violence against indigenous women, girls, 2SLGBTQQIA people,” Marion Buller, the chief commissioner of the inquiry, said at a ceremony held to present the report.
The 2SLGBTQQIA group refers to two-spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex and asexual people.
“An absolute paradigm shift is required to dismantle colonialism in Canadian society. And this paradigm shift must come from all levels of government and public institutions,” Buller said.
The final report, called “Reclaiming Power and Place,” was presented during an often emotional ceremony in Gatineau, Quebec, near the Canadian capital.