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Canada guilty of decades-long 'race-based genocide' against indigenous people – inquiry

A damning report has accused the Canadian government of perpetuating genocide by inaction against indigenous women and girls. Indigenous rights activists say they've been witnessing their own grim version of #MeToo for years now.

The report is the result of an extensive inquiry commissioned by the Canadian government itself in 2016. With over 1,200 pages, it paints a grim picture of systemic mistreatment of indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA (which stands for two-spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex and asexual) people. These groups of the indigenous population have been singled out as the most vulnerable ones.

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"The genocide has been empowered by colonial structures evidenced notably by the Indian Act (a controversial 1876 law regulating indigenous people's reserves in Canada), the Sixties Scoop (a 40-year-old policy of taking indigenous or mixed-race children from parents to be adopted by white families, discontinued in the late 1980s), residential schools, and breaches of human and Inuit, Metis and First Nations rights, leading directly to the current increased rates of violence, death, and suicide in Indigenous population," the report says.

READ MORE: Canada’s Trudeau asks Pope to apologize for Catholic Church’s abuse of indigenous children

It draws on testimony from 468 family members and survivors of violence against the targeted groups, as well as the insight of expert witnesses, tribal elders and officials. It took 24 hearings to compile the paper.

The report repeatedly refers to the Canadian government turning a blind eye to the plight of indigenous people as amounting to "race-based genocide." Arguing for using the bold term, the authors note that "genocide is the sum of the social practices, assumptions and actions" that had enabled it.

As many witnesses expressed, this country is at war, and Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people are under siege.

As the paper was presented to the government on Monday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau admitted that "the hard truth" is that successive Canadian governments "have failed" indigenous people and promised to outline a "national action plan" to tackle the violence.

He still skirted around actually using the word 'genocide', which didn't escape the attention of some of the local media, but other ministers brushed off the criticism, with Justice Minister David Lametti saying that it was matter for scholars to decide whether the term is appropriate.

'It's almost like #MeToo, but worse'

The government needs to step up its efforts to cover the basic needs of people living in Indian reserves, Audrey Huntley, co-founder of 'No More Silence,' a Toronto-based organization gathering names of missing and murdered indigenous women, told RT.

"The reserves are underfunded, there is like chronic lack of housing, there is no safe drinking water," she said. She pointed out that the authors of the report, by their own admission, fall short of identifying all the victims of the 'genocide.'

"There is a whole bunch of really problematic criminal activity as regards to indigenous women and girls and unaddressed for all of these decades," Pamela Palmater, chair in Indigenous Governance, Ryerson university, told RT.

She said that Canadian public and the international community should put political pressure on Ottawa to "do something and to actually investigate state actors who are complicit or directly involved in the murders, exploitation and disappearances of indigenous women and girls."

The way the rampant violence against indigenous people had been ignored for decades is akin to the situation with women, she said.

"It's almost like the #MeToo movement when women have not been believed when they were raped or sexually assaulted. For indigenous women and girls it had been even worse."

According to Royal Canadian Mounted Police estimates back in 2014, over 1,000 aboriginal women were killed between 1980 and 2012.

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