OTTAWA — Members of the United Nations Human Rights Council are urging Canada to improve its treatment of Indigenous people, in particular women and girls.
Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould represented Canada in Geneva for the UN’s third Universal Periodic Review of human rights.
Wilson-Raybould says she heard the council’s message “loudly and clearly,” including the need to support the national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls and addressing the over-representation of Aboriginal women behind bars.
“We know this is a challenge we’re facing, it needs to be addressed in a fundamental way,” she said Friday in a telephone interview from Geneva.
The review, first established in 2008, sees the council review the human rights records of all UN members and make recommendations for improvement.
Canada has taken part in two reviews, in 2009 and in 2013, although 2018 marks the first time that a federal minister has led a delegation for the presentation.
Wilson-Raybould said she welcomes the feedback — and while Canada has made important gains, a great deal more work remains.
The government is still considering whether it will grant the missing and murdered women inquiry a two-year extension, which commissioners requested in March.
The decision will come “in the near future”, she said.
“We will ensure Indigenous survivors and family members will be heard by the commission and that we will complete the work of the national inquiry in a way that allows those voices to be heard, commemorates lived experiences of Indigenous women and gets at the root causes of why the situation exists in the first place,” Wilson-Raybould said.