OTTAWA – The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) is demanding that the federal government explain its decision to appoint a non-indigenous man to head the secretariat established to address the ongoing tragedy of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.

In a letter sent Wednesday to Carolyn Bennett, the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, NWAC CEO Lynne Groulx demanded to know the rationale behind the appointment of Bruno Steinke as Executive Director of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Secretariat (MMIWG Secretariat).

“We are deeply concerned, and fail to see how a person who is not a woman or an Indigenous person can possibly relate to Indigenous organizations and Indigenous women and girls when it comes to addressing the violence that Indigenous women and girls have endured,” wrote Ms. Groulx.

“Furthermore,” she wrote, “there was no consultation with NWAC about the appointment of the MMIWG Secretariat Executive Director or what credentials are required for this position. Again, this is another example of the Government of Canada not respecting the opinions, views, or lived experiences of Indigenous women, girls, and gender-diverse people in this country.”

NWAC was deeply critical of the government in June when it released, on the second anniversary of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Women and Girls, a so-called ”national action plan” to address the violence that was nothing more than an aspirational document with no funding, timelines or measurable goals.

In her letter to Minister Bennett, Ms. Groulx pointed out that the Minister herself has said Indigenous organizations are best suited to delivering services and support to Indigenous peoples in a culturally safe and respectful way. Yet, she has appointed someone who is neither Indigenous nor a woman as the Secretariat Executive Director who will be responsible for working with Indigenous organizations on the MMIWG file.

“We continuously communicate with you and your department about the challenges that Indigenous women and girls face in this country and you continuously ignore us,” wrote Ms. Groulx. “It is clear you are intent on doing what you think is right, but not what is right for Indigenous women, girls, and gender-diverse people. Colonialism is clearly alive and well in this country!”

The Indigenous women of Canada expected better of a government that came to power in 2015 saying its relationship with Indigenous people was paramount.

Read the letter here.

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For information, or to arrange an interview, contact Gloria Galloway at gloria@gloriagalloway.com or 613-447-6648.