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Centering the Voices of Survivors and Families

Tansi Nîtôtemtik,


In today’s post, we will continue to explore organizations that are contributing to the National Action Plan to end the genocide of Indigenous women and girls. Today we will highlight the incredibly important work of the National Family and Survivors Circle.


The National Inquiry on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women stated that it is the responsibility of all levels of government to work with Indigenous communities to create a National Action Plan. The Calls for Justice must be implemented using a decolonizing approach, which must be “rooted in Indigenous values, philosophies, and knowledge systems”. [1]


The implementation must also include “the perspective and participation of Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people with lived experience, including the families of missing and murdered and survivors of violence”. [2] In response to this, the National Family and Survivors Circle (“NFSC”) was established with support from the minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs, to ensure the voices of survivors and their families were included in the National Action Plan and the implementation of the Calls for Justice. [3]


CBC News: https://www.cbc.ca/news/indigenous/mmiwg-action-plan-update-1.6476685

NFSC provided a comprehensive contribution to the final National Action Plan, with a focus on inclusion of families and survivors, guided by the principle of “Nothing About Us, Without Us”. [4] Their work focuses on the centering of survivors’ and families’ experience, agency and expertise.” [5] NFSC advocated for the use of Four Pillars when working with families and survivors- Inclusion, Interconnectedness, Accountability, and Impact. [6]


After the National Action Plan was published, NFSC has continued to advocate for action. Hilda Anderson-Pyrz, chair of the National Family and Survivors Circle in Canada, spoke about the ongoing importance of holding the government accountable. In June of 2022, three years after the release of the Calls for Justice, Anderson-Pyrz reiterated how “without the political will to create transformative change, this genocide will continue. The government must be accountable for its responsibility for the 231 calls for justice. They are legal imperatives and they are not optional.” [7]


For too long, all levels of government have attempted to regulate Indigenous lived experiences. The responsibility for identifying the underlying social and historical causes leading to the crisis of MMIWG should not fall on those impacted directly. However, it is equally important that their voices are heard to illuminate a path forward. The work the NFSC has put into the implementation of the National Action Plan fruitless without a truthful and wholesome commitment from government to end the genocide.


As we move forward with the implementation of the National Action Plan, NFSC continues to be an important participant. The experiences and voices of those directly impacted by the ongoing genocide must be listened to, to ensure that the correct solutions are being pursued. Inclusion of survivors and their families in roundtable discussions supports a decolonizing approach to implementing the Calls for Justice.


While organizations such as NFSC continue to play an integral role, all levels of government must increase their commitment to fulfilling the Calls for Justice. More funding needs to be made available to organizations. More training needs to be provided to public servants, including legal professionals and law enforcement. Progress toward the Calls for Justice needs to be measured and made public. It is every Canadian’s responsibility to hold the government accountable to the National Action Plan.


Until next time,


Team Reconcili-ACTION YEG


[1] National Inquiry into Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls, “Reclaiming Power and Place: The Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Volume 1b” (2019) at 170, online (pdf): National Inquiry into Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls <www.mmiwg-ffada.ca/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/Final_Report_Vol_1b.pdf>.

[2] Ibid at 171.

[3] National Family and Survivors Circle, “Our Goals” (Last visited 22 Jan 2023), National Family and Survivors Circle, online: <familysurvivorscircle.ca/#our-goals>.

[4] National Family and Survivors Circle, “Key Highlights” (2022), online (pdf): <mmiwg2splus.wpenginepowered.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/NAP-NFSC-2022-a11y.pdf>.

[5] National Family and Survivors Circle, “National Family and Survivors Circle Contribution - 2021 Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ People National Action Plan: Ending Violence Against Indigenous Women, Girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA+ People” (2021), online (pdf): <familysurvivorscircle.ca/wp-content/uploads/NFSC-20220509-NAPCONTRIBUTION-FINALVERSION.pdf>.

[6] Ibid at 12-14.

[7] Teresa Wright, “Lack of progress on MMIWG plan ‘staggering and unacceptable,’ Ottawa told” (3 Jun 2022), Global News, online: <globalnews.ca/news/8891593/mmiwg-action-plan-progress/>.


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