CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY
Mino gijebàgwashig, kakina.
Good morning, everyone.
Let me start by acknowledging that we are on traditional Algonquin territory.
Thank you, Elders, for your words.
Thank you to the Commissioners for your tireless work, and your commitment to unearthing these important truths.
And thank you to the people featured in the videos.
Your strength is an example to us all.
This is an important day.
And one that is long, long overdue.
Today, I am humbled and grateful to receive this report, as we conclude one chapter of this painful story.
It’s a story that is unimaginable to most Canadians.
And yet, for too many, it is a heartbreaking reality.
Many of you have spent the last few years courageously speaking of your loss, and reliving incredible pain.
To all those who spoke up, and gave such powerful testimony, I want to thank you deeply for your bravery, and I hope that today you can take a new step in your long journey of healing.
For many decades, Indigenous women and girls across Canada have disappeared, suffered violence, or been killed, and our justice system has failed them.
Sadly, this is not a relic of our past.
To this day, the safety, security, and dignity of Indigenous mothers, daughters, sisters, and friends are routinely threatened.
Time and again, we have heard of their disappearance, violence, or even death being labelled low priority or ignored.
We have heard of their human rights being consistently and systemically violated.
It is shameful.
It is absolutely unacceptable.
And it must end.
For far too many years, Indigenous families, communities and organizations have urged the Government of Canada to take action and call a national inquiry.
When we took office, we knew that the status quo for Indigenous women and girls in this country had to change.
And over the last few years, our government has undertaken the most ambitious and comprehensive inquiry in this country’s history – the first truly national inquiry ever conducted in Canada, in partnership with provinces and territories.
Thousands of family members and survivors came forward to share their truths at hearings and statement gatherings across the country.
We heard from knowledge keepers, experts, and officials, and many shared their truths through art.
There were stories of anger, and sadness, and deep frustration.
I know that this has been very, very difficult for everyone involved.
The process has been long, and I can only imagine how awful it is to relive such intense pain.
To the survivors and families here today, and to those watching or listening at home, I want you to know that this report is not the end.
The work of the Commissioners, the stories they have collected, and the Calls for Justice they have put forward, will not be placed on a shelf to collect dust.
I know, and you know, that we need to fix the way things work in this country.
We must continue to de-colonize our existing structures.
And the racism, sexism, and economic inequality that has allowed such violence against Indigenous women and girls to prevail must be eradicated.
We have begun some of this important work already.
We’re working with Indigenous communities to improve health and wellness by investing in essential infrastructure – including housing – and eliminating boil water advisories.
We’re also working together to better support the inherent jurisdiction of Indigenous peoples in areas like education, governance, and child and family services.
And we just recently introduced legislation to help ensure the survival – and revival – of Indigenous languages.
Today is another next step on our path to reconciliation.
We will conduct a thorough review of this report, and we will develop and implement a National Action Plan to address violence against Indigenous women, girls, and LGBTQ and two-spirit people.
We will work with Indigenous partners to determine next steps, and we will include the perspectives and full participation of Indigenous women and girls.
We will also include the voices of Indigenous LGBTQ and two-spirit people with lived experience, as well as the family members of victims, and survivors of violence.
The Commission has outlined a way forward.
And you have my word that my government will turn the inquiry’s Calls for Justice into real, meaningful, Indigenous-led action.
I refuse to let our present, and our future, mirror our past.
To the missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls of Canada, to their families, and to survivors – we have failed you.
But we will fail you no longer.
In the days ahead, let us walk forward together, as partners, hand-in-hand as we right these wrongs, and seek justice for Indigenous people in Canada.