Why has BC NDP invested so little in stopping violence against Indigenous women and girls?

May 12, 2022 | 42-3, Blog, Governance, Indigenous, Legislature, Question Period, Video | 0 comments

It is Moose Hide Campaign Day. The grassroots campaign is for Indigenous and non-Indigenous men and boys to stand up against violence against women and children.

As the National Inquiry on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls found, instances of violence often increases around resource development sites.

Every year our BC NDP government invests billions of dollars in projects like the Site C dam, fracking, and LNG. Yet, in 2021 they only put $5.5 million dollars into B.C.’s Path Forward response to the Nation Action Plan.

It is clear where the BC NDP’s priorities are. While their Members continue to wear the Moose Hide Campaign pin, the resource development projects they are subsidizing continue to cause inconceivable harm to Indigenous women and children. Simply, not good enough!

[Transcript]

A. Olsen:

Today is Moose Hide Campaign Day. Today is for Indigenous and non-Indigenous men and boys to stand against the violence that Indigenous women and girls face on a daily basis.

We know that violence often occurs at the site of resource development projects. The final report of the national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls found as much.

When a new resource development project comes to town, like Site C, rates of gender-based violence, child abuse and sexual violence go up. In turn, substance use goes up. Then the cycle repeats and intensifies.

The Minister of Mental Health and Addictions knows as much because in 2016, as a federal NDP MP, she criticized Site C for going through without consideration for the impacts on Indigenous women and girls. Six years later, this government has doubled down on Site C, Coastal GasLink and others while doing little to address this violence.

[10:40 a.m.]
My question is to the Premier. He’s travelling to Site C this week. What is he doing to protect Indigenous women and girls from the violence they face as a result of these resource development projects?

Hon. M. Rankin:

Thank you to my colleague across the way for drawing attention to the issues of violence facing Indigenous women and girls every day. He does so on Moose Hide Campaign Day, which is most appropriate.

We are taking steps throughout the work of the action plan under the declaration on the rights of Indigenous peoples to address violence and systemic racism in a number of ways, starting with the Police Act, dealing with Indigenous justice centres and in so many other initiatives to address the scourge of violence and racism occurring, of course, not just in the locations identified by the member, but across our communities, and we will continue to do so.

Mr. Speaker:

Member for Saanich North and the Islands, supplemental.

A. Olsen:

In June of last year, this government had put just $5.5 million on the table to support community safety plans commemorating the women and girls who were murdered and — get this — training their own public service. This was as a result of the national plan for missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. $5.5 million, frankly, is the equivalent to lost change in a couch to this government.

Let’s look at what this government was willing to spend more money on in 2021 than missing and murdered Indigenous people. $7.93 million for seven advertising campaigns from the government’s communications department. $30 million to mark B.C.’s 150th anniversary into Confederation. An additional $8 billion on Site C. Hundreds of millions of dollars in subsidies to the fossil fuel projects, and in June of last year, this government said more investments were under consideration.

So to the Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation, he’s had close to a year to consider this additional funding. How much more can Indigenous women and girls expect for this government to spend in order to protect them from the impacts of violence?

Hon. M. Rankin:

Again, I thank the hon. member for drawing attention to this difficult issue. In fact, every week across British Columbia, there are an estimated 1,000 physical or sexual assaults against women. As the member would know, Indigenous women and girls are disproportionately targeted by that. Our government has supported the Moose Hide Campaign since the previous government as well since 2011, and our government has provided almost $3 million and worked with the federal government to provide $4 million more and urged them to find funding in the private sector.

We have done, as the member pointed out, as part of our B.C.’s Path Forward response to the report on the murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls, a community fund grant of $4.5 million, and we’re supporting the Giving Voice campaign, sponsored by my minister’s advisory committee on Indigenous women and girls.

There’s much work to do to dismantle systemic racism. Our government is committed to that in a variety of actions, and in part we do so through the support we have given to provide secure and stable funding for sexual assault centres — committed $22 million to do so. There are an array of initiatives through many ministries to address the scourge of racism and systemic violence against Indigenous women and girls. We know this work must continue. There’s much more to be done. But I’m proud to be part of a government that is investing in so many ways to address the scourge of racism and discrimination.

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