OHRC statement: Ontario Human Rights Commission takes action to respond to IMMIWG Calls for Justice
June 5, 2019 –Today, the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) is responding to the final report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, Reclaiming Power and Place. The Inquiry finds that “human rights and Indigenous rights abuses and violations committed and condoned by the Canadian state represent genocide against Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people.”
Reclaiming Power and Place highlights the unique role of human rights institutions in taking up the National Inquiry’s “Calls for Justice.” The report reaffirms that Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA people are rights holders and finds that “contemporary human rights protections can be helpful tools in making sure these rights are respected and upheld.”
The OHRC’s commitment to reconciliation
Since 2016, the OHRC has prioritized reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. In our Strategic Plan, the OHRC commits to engaging in trusting relationships with First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities that are built on dignity and respect, and working to advance reconciliation and substantive equality. Much of the OHRC’s work to date is consistent with the Inquiry’s Calls for Justice.
Last year, consistent with the Inquiry’s Call for Justice #12, the OHRC released Interrupted Childhoods, which highlighted the over-representation of Indigenous children in child welfare and made recommendations to ensure that child welfare practices do not adversely affect Indigenous families. We also called on the Ontario government to develop a provincial strategy to identify and address how families’ social and economic conditions are linked to racial disparities in child apprehension rates.
Consistent with the Inquiry’s Call for Justice #1, last year the OHRC also released To dream together, which reflects diverse Indigenous perspectives on human rights and acknowledges the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UN Declaration) as the necessary framework for realizing Indigenous peoples’ human rights, including at the provincial level.
The OHRC will take up the Calls for Justice
The release of Reclaiming Power and Place is an important moment for the OHRC to reaffirm our commitment to reconciliation and show leadership by publicly committing to take up the Inquiry’s Calls for Justice.
Consistent with Call for Justice #1, the OHRC will take concrete steps, in collaboration with diverse Indigenous peoples, to ensure that the Ontario Human Rights Code (Code) becomes an effective tool to implement the UN Declaration at the provincial level, to address persistent gaps in service delivery to Indigenous peoples both on and off reserve. Consistent with Calls for Justice #3 and #7, the OHRC will also use its enforcement powers to ensure culturally safe delivery of health and police services in Northern Ontario.
Consistent with Call for Justice #5, the OHRC will ensure that its forthcoming policy on racial profiling in law enforcement reflects the lived experiences that lie at the heart of Reclaiming Power and Place. In particular, we will consider how police failure to adequately protect Indigenous women and girls and 2SLGBTQQIA people is a unique form of racial profiling based on persistent and damaging stereotypes.
Ontario Human Rights Commission