The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) says Canada must improve its own domestic track record on human rights before aspiring to hold a seat on the United Nations Security Council.
“If Canada had led by example at home, it would have had the moral right to lead by example abroad,” NWAC President Lorraine Whitman said Thursday after it was announced that Canada lost its bid to hold a coveted seat on the body responsible for maintaining international peace and security, and that Norway and Ireland had instead been given the honour.
“Time and time again, Canada has failed to show leadership domestically in tackling what is arguably the country’s most pressing human-rights issue – its treatment of Indigenous women and girls,” said Ms. Whitman.
Little more than a year ago, the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women,
Girls, and Gender-Diverse People issued the report of its 33-month investigation. It found that a race-based genocide took place in Canada which continues to impact its Indigenous victims to the present day. The Inquiry also issued 231 Calls For Justice that, it said, would begin the process of righting the wrongs.
But, on May 26 – the week before the first anniversary of the release of the Inquiry’s report – Carolyn Bennett, the federal Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, announced in interviews with select media that her government had not drafted a promised national action plan to address the violence, and had no timetable for doing so.
Ms. Bennett cited the COVID-19 pandemic as the reason for the delay, even as isolation made necessary by the disease creates a more dangerous environment for many Indigenous women. In the absence of a plan, NWAC was forced to give the government a failing grade, across the board, for its response to the Inquiry’s findings.
Canada’s loss at the UN General Assembly “while disappointing for some, comes as no surprise to many,” said Ms. Whitman.
“While several of the Permanent Members of the UN Security Council have less than glittering human rights records”, said Ms. Whitman. “Canada should be held to a high standard. If you cannot put your own house in order, what right do you have to hector other countries to do the same.”