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Canadian inquiry calls deaths of indigenous women ‘genocide’

A woman holds a sign during the closing ceremony of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls in Gatineau, Quebec, Canada

The deaths in Canada of more than a thousand aboriginal women and girls in recent decades was a national genocide, a government inquiry into murdered and missing indigenous women concluded in a report on Monday.

The 1,200-page report, which resulted from an inquiry launched by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government in 2016, blamed the violence on long-standing discrimination against indigenous people and Canada’s failure to protect them.

It also made sweeping recommendations to prevent future violence against indigenous women.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police revealed in 2014 that 1,017 aboriginal women had been murdered between 1980 and 2012.

The inquiry, which was beset by delays and staff resignations, opened painful wounds as it heard testimony from 468 family members of missing or murdered women.

“The truths shared in these National Inquiry hearings tell the story – or, more accurately, thousands of stories – of acts of genocide against First Nations, Inuit and Métis women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people,” the report read.

The 2SLGBTQQIA group refers to two-spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex and asexual people.

“This violence amounts to a race-based genocide of Indigenous Peoples, including First Nations, Inuit, and Métis, which especially targets women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people.”

The final report, called “Reclaiming Power and Place,” was presented during a ceremony in Gatineau, Quebec, near the Canadian capital, and was attended by some of the hundreds of family members of those missing or murdered, and by government officials including Trudeau.

While aboriginal people account for only about 4 percent of Canada’s population, they on average suffer from higher rates of crime, poverty and addiction.

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