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'Speak up' against racism, discrimination and injustice, minister encourages Nunavummiut

Minister of Family Services Elisapee Sheutiapik says the voting down of gender parity in the 1997 plebiscite is a lost opportunity. photo courtesy Michel Albert/Legislative Assembly

It's important to speak up against injustices, whether experienced or witnessed, Family Services Minister Elisapee Sheutiapik said Thursday.

"We must speak boldly and with courage, with a collaborative voice to support resilience, and advocacy to supporting inclusion, diversity and equity," says Minister of Family Services Elisapee Sheutiapik.
photo courtesy of the Government of Nunavut

"We must do better. We need to recognize the pain, trauma and grief that communities experience when faced with systemic racism and discrimination," Sheutiapik stated. "We must speak boldly and with courage, with a collaborative voice to support resilience, and advocacy to supporting inclusion, diversity and equity. These values are explicitly highlighted in Inuit societal values and those principles help us honour all people."

The minister released her statement in a news release marking the one-year anniversary of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) Final Report and Calls for Justice, an analysis that documented "the painful experiences of violence and racism against Indigenous women, girls, and LGBTQ and two-spirit people."

Although Sheutiapik stated that the Government of Nunavut continues to work with Inuit, provincial, territorial, and federal partners to address the important issues identified in the final report, she made no mention of the federal government's failure to deliver an action plan in conjunction with the report's first anniversary. 

Last week, Pauktuutit President Rebecca Kudloo said she was “very disappointed" by the federal government's late MMIWG action plan, which Ottawa blamed on disruptions caused by Covid-19. Pauktuutit also called on the Government of Canada to set aside $20 million to build five emergency shelters and transition housing units in Inuit Nunangat and Ottawa that are “desperately needed.”

Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK) also addressed the one-year anniversary of the MMIWG final report via a news release issued Wednesday. The organization stated that it "remains committed to the full implementation of the 231 calls for justice, including the co-development of a National Action Plan with Inuit leadership, National Indigenous Organizations, the Prime Minister, and the Government of Canada."

ITK added that it has developed its 2020-2023 Strategy and Action Plan with an "MMIWG lens," focusing on the 46 Inuit-specific calls for justice in the MMIWG final report. Some of those issues include poverty reduction, Inuit-specific health and social development priorities and the revitalization of Inuktut.

About the Author: Derek Neary

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