When an Anishinabe woman was on a stage with the prime minister Monday she gave Justin Trudeau some advice.
“I said, ‘This is your baby now, this was our baby. Take care of her’,” Shailla Manitowabie-Cooke recalled Tuesday
“Make sure you do something.”
Manitowabie-Cooke, of the Wikwemikong First Nation in northern Ontario, was part of the closing ceremony of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.
She and a young man accepted the report – bundled in a special Indigenous bag and blessed with traditional medicines – from its four commissioners and handed it to Canada via the prime minister.
Among the 231 findings in its 1,200 pages is that genocide in the form of continuing colonialism is to blame for the disappearances and deaths of thousands of Indigenous women and girls.
(Shailla Manitowabie-Cooke wants the prime minister “do something” about violence against Indigenous women and girls. Photo: Justin Brake/APTN)
Among its recommendations the final report also calls on Canadians to do something.
It says they should “confront and speak out against racism, sexism, ignorance, homophobia, and transphobia, and teach or encourage others to do the same, wherever it occurs: in your home, in your workplace, or in social settings.”
“If you see it, and you see a woman getting abused, definitely speak up,” she said, “because a lot of the time nobody does anything.
“This has to change, it has to stop.”
The prime minister pledged to implement a national action plan to address violence against Indigenous women and girls.
But Manitowabie-Cooke, who described the commissioners as “her heroes”, hopes he does more before the election campaign in the fall.
“We don’t have a lot of hope with the Conservatives, so I’m hoping the Liberals will do something,” she said.
“I know we have three more months before the election. I’m hoping he’s able to make some change during that time.”
When asked if the prime minister agreed to do something, Manitowabie-Cooke said he replied: ‘We will, together,'” she told APTN News.