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Justice for One, Justice for All: MMIWG and 2SLGBTQQIA+


Tansi Nitotemtik,


“Justice for one, justice for all.”


A simple sentence in theory made much more complicated, particularly in Canada when you are an Indigenous woman. For can there be justice borne out of systemic injustice? Can one believe in the concept of justice when it has not believed them?


This is the ongoing crisis of Indigenous women in Canada. The missing, the murdered, and the constantly-in-fear Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA people in Canada.


It is difficult to find justice where Indigenous women are 12 times more likely to be murdered or go missing than their non-Indigenous sisters.[1] A country where one in five female victims killed by a male accused is an Indigenous woman or girl.[2] We live in a society principled on justice where disabled Indigenous women are 2 times more likely to be sexually assaulted than a non-Indigenous woman.[3] It is easy to see why the only justice many Indigenous people then see and feel comes with an ‘in’ before it.


For too many years the truth of the disproportionate rates of violence suffered by Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people went unheard. The truth never went untold however, as survivors and families of victims shared their stories and experiences. These stories were shared in circles of grief, in community letters, on social media, from friend to friend, sister to sister, on beaded moccasins, and during candlelight vigils. They were shared amongst kin and in open forums with government officials. A painful truth that cried out for recognition.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission sought to do just that with Call to Action #41 which called “upon the federal government, in consultation with Aboriginal organizations, to appoint a public inquiry into the causes of, and remedies for, the disproportionate victimization of Aboriginal women and girls.” [4]


On June 3rd, 2021 in response to “Reclaiming Power and Place: The Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls” the Federal Government alongside Indigenous partners released the National Action Plan, a blueprint to ending the violence against Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people. The plan was co-developed by members of the National Family and Survivors Circle, representatives of First Nations, Inuit, Metis and Indigenous grassroots organizations, Indigenous, provincial and territorial governments, Indigenous urban and 2SLGBTQQIA+ leaders, and Indigenous Elders, Knowledge Keepers and Spiritual Leaders.[5]

The plan, which seeks to centre Indigenous families, survivors, women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people’s “voices, perspectives, worldviews, and lived experiences” is much more than a government document or bureaucratic checklist.[6] It is the weaving of stories, and a re-telling of a dark truth often left unheard.

The National Action Plan is a pathway to justice.

As we journey together on the path of Reconciliation it is clear this road runs alongside justice. It is difficult to see where one diverges from the other. Maybe it doesn’t at all.

Call to Action #41 put forward a mandate to further us along the road but it did not bring us to the end of the road. It opened our eyes to the injustice and the generational harm, but it did not set out the solutions. That has been left for us, as Canadians, to create.

It is not enough to hear the truth. Nor it is enough to put a path forward to words. As the stories of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people cry out for witnesses, so too do they call out for action. It requires us on the most fundamental level to acknowledge the way society treats Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people; the hyper-sexualization, the dehumanization, and the lack of regard. We must unpack everything from the media we consume to the bias's held against sex work and poverty.

The National Action Plan may not be the document that creates that, but it bears witness to the many voices of change who are, will, and continue to. It is the living document of those who took the first steps towards justice.

And once you take the first step, it becomes much easier to imagine the next.

One where justice for one, justice for all includes justice for Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people.


To access the National Action Plan, go to https://mmiwg2splus-nationalactionplan.ca/.


Until next time,

Casey & ReconciliACTION YEG

[1]"2021 National Action Plan" (3 Jun 2021), online: MMIWG2S Plus: National Action Plan<. https://mmiwg2splus-nationalactionplan.ca/>.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, Calls to Action, (2015) online (pdf): <https://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/british-columbians-our-governments/indigenous-people/aboriginal-peoples-documents/calls_to_action_english2.pdf>.

[5] “The Federal Pathway” (3 Jun 2021), online: Government of Canada <https://rcaanc-cirnac.gc.ca/eng/1617731561423/1617731691291>.

[6] Ibid.

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