Click here to view original web page at MMIWG inquiry calls on resource sector to address risks from work camps
The commissioners for the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls gather on a traditional Star Blanket during the closing ceremony event at the Museum of Canadian History in Gatineau, Que., on June 3, 2019. @MMIWG Twitter account photo A national inquiry is calling on resource […]
A national inquiry is calling on resource industries and regulators to consider the safety and security of Indigenous women and girls at all stages of project planning and development, amid long-standing concerns over the connection between work camps and sexual violence.
Among the 231 calls for action in the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls’ final report are five recommendations for the resource-extraction and development industries.
So-called “man camps” — temporary housing set up for predominantly male workers that accompany mining, oil and gas development projects — have been considered a safety threat to local women, particularly for Indigenous women and girls who live in more rural and isolated parts of Canada.
The 1,200-page final report officially released this morning stated the national inquiry had heard testimony and examined evidence that suggested resource projects can drive violence against Indigenous women and girls.
The probe calls upon all resource-extraction and development industries to consider the safety and security of Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people (two-spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex and asexual) “at all stages of project planning, assessment, implementation, management, and monitoring.”
The final report also recommends all governments and regulating bodies complete gender-based socio-economic impact assessments on all proposed projects and monitor it going forward.
“Project proposals must include provisions and plans to mitigate risks and impacts identified in the impact assessments prior to being approved,” the final report stated.
The Liberal government’s environmental assessment legislation, Bill C-69, currently contains provisions that would require regulators and project proponents to consider the health, social and economic effects of their developments on Indigenous communities.
The parties must also consider “the intersection of sex and gender with other identity factors” in project assessments, according to the bill, which is now before third reading in the Senate and faces stiff opposition from the oil and gas sector.
Researchers have made a link between male-dominated work camps and sexual violence against women.
A 2017 report by the Firelight Group, a consulting firm that conducts research in Indigenous communities, found a 38 per cent increase in sexual assaults reported to the RCMP during the first year of construction on an industrial project in Fort St. James, B.C.
The report also noted a “sharp increase” in sex trafficking in Alberta’s Fort McMurray and Grande Prairie which it connected to the rise in “increased income of young men, social isolation from families and relationships, and the hypermasculine context of camps.”
Last year, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told an audience at a panel at the G20 summit in Argentina there are “gender impacts” that accompany infrastructure projects in rural areas.
“There are gender impacts when you bring construction workers into a rural area. There are social impacts because they’re mostly male construction workers,” he said.
Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer criticized the remarks, calling it “political correctness at its most ridiculous.”
“The impacts of construction workers building things are prosperity and strong families. They should be celebrated, not demonized,” he tweeted in December 2018.
The national inquiry also calls upon parties that negotiate impact-benefit agreements — which are privately negotiated, legally enforceable agreements establishing terms between Indigenous communities and developers — to include provisions at address the impacts of projects on the safety and security of Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA people.
Federal, provincial, and territorial governments are being asked to fund research in order to better understand the “relationship between resource extraction and other development projects and violence” against such groups.
The national inquiry is also supporting the call for a public inquiry into the sexual violence and racism at hydroelectric projects in northern Manitoba.
As well, a call is made for industries, governments and service providers to “anticipate and recognize” the increased demand for social services that a project might bring. It states that policing, social and health service must be expanded to meet the needs of host communities.
The $92 million national inquiry, led by commissioner Marion Buller, ultimately concludes that the thousands of Indigenous women and girls who were murdered or went missing in the country in recent decades were victims of a “Canadian genocide.”
Buller today called the 231 calls for action not just recommendations but “legal imperatives.”
After the report’s release, Trudeau announced his government will “conduct a thorough review” and implement a national action plan to address violence against Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people.