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USW Looks to Consult, Contribute to Solutions

Ken Neumann Statement on the MMIWG National Inquiry Final Report

On June 3, 2019, the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls released its final report. The report draws a direct link between Canada’s historic and ongoing violation and abuse of Indigenous Peoples’ rights and the disappearances, murders and violence experienced by Indigenous women, girls and members of the Two-Spirit/LGBTQ+ community. The report includes 231 Calls for Justice designed to protect Indigenous women, girls and Two-Spirit/LGBTQ+ people, put an end to the violence against them and promote their substantive equality.  

The United Steelworkers (USW) is committed to pressing for swift and effective government action, and to ensuring that its programs and practices help counter gender-based violence, in light of the final report.

“The final report honours the heart-breaking stories of grieving family members, as well as the effective responses taken by Indigenous organizations and communities to protect, heal and grow,” said Ken Neumann, USW National Director. The USW represents 225,000 members in Canada, from all nations and cultural backgrounds.

In no uncertain terms, the report states that systemic racism, colonialism and gender bias in Canada are the cause of the extreme levels of violence experienced by Indigenous women, girls and members of the Two-Spirit, LGBTQ+ community. Actions and inactions by governments have devalued Indigenous women and displaced them from key roles in community governance and leadership.

“Governments at all levels in Canada are failing to live up to their obligations under Canadian law and international agreements,” Neumann said. “The final report is blunt in saying that the problem is about the denial of rights, not unfulfilled needs.”

With a federal election looming, the inquiry’s report comes at an important time to shape the political discussion. “Steelworkers are active in the political process,” Neumann noted. “We want to consult with Indigenous women’s organizations and other allies to hear how our voice could be employed most usefully in the coming months.”

“In the meantime, we can contribute by answering the ‘Calls for Justice for All Canadians.’ And there are several Calls for Justice that touch on areas where our union is active, such as the resource and extractive industries, transportation and hospitality industries and member education,” said Neumann.

“It’s our responsibility to think carefully about how the USW can contribute to the solutions set out by the National Inquiry, including hearing from our National Women’s and Indigenous Committees.”

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