vaaw discussionAt the head of the table sat Minister of Aboriginal Affairs David Zimmer and Minister
Responsible for Women’s Issues Tracy MacCharles. To the left are seated MNO
representatives (from right) MNO Director of Healing and Wellness Wenda Watteyne,
ACOO Margaret Froh, MNO Chair France Picotte and MNO President Gary Lipinski.

Announcement of Federal Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls welcomed

On December 9, 2015, Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) President Gary Lipinski and MNO Chair France Picotte represented the MNO at a Aboriginal Leaders/Ministers meeting of the members of the Joint Working Group (JWG) on Violence Against Aboriginal Women (VAAW) held at the Legislative Building in Toronto. Also attending the meeting on behalf of the MNO was MNO Director of Healing and Wellness Wenda Watteyne and Margaret Froh, Associate Chief Operating Officer. The Honourable Tracy MacCharles, Minister of Children and Youth Services, and the Honourable David Zimmer, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs, were both in attendance.

The MNO has been a key player in advancing the agenda to end VAAW. It has participated in five summits on ending VAAW, is a full signatory to the Framework to End Violence Against Aboriginal Women and is an active participant in the Aboriginal Leaders/Ministers meetings of the JWG on VAAW since its inception in 2010. At its 2014 Annual General Assembly, the MNO also passed a resolution adopting the Métis Nation of Ontario Declaration to End Violence Against Aboriginal Women, and calling for a Federal Inquiry into the national tragedy of missing and murdered Aboriginal women. President Lipinski welcomed the announcement on December 8 that the federal government is launching the first phase of a National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.

“We are very pleased to see the new government live up to its commitments,” stated President Lipinski. “This first phase that will allow families of victims and Indigenous peoples both as individuals, groups and through their governments to contribute to the design of the National Inquiry is important to ensure the inquiry meets the needs of Indigenous peoples,” he added.

The meeting on December 9 was another opportunity for the JWG, which consists of ten provincial ministries and the MNO, the Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres, the Ontario Native Women’s Association, the Chiefs of Ontario and Independent First Nations to report on its progress. The MNO commends the Government of Ontario for supporting efforts to reduce the very high rates of violence affecting Métis, First Nations and Inuit women in Ontario and called upon the lead Ministers to report back to their cabinet colleagues on progress and seek a new commitment for a long-term strategy and resources to support our full participation in the work of the JWG.

“While pleased that both federal and provincial levels of government are heeding the call of the MNO and others to address violence against Indigenous women, it is an issue that the MNO cannot fully address alone; it requires our collective commitment and actions. We will take a strong stance doing all we can as Métis, and united with our First Nations and Inuit sisters and brothers. We must declare collectively that violence against Métis, First Nations and Inuit women is not to be tolerated in any form and it must end.”