US & Canada

Deaths of indigenous women 'a Canadian genocide', leaked report says

Photograph from 2015 demonstration showing protest after Tina Fontaine death Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Activists say thousands of indigenous women and girls may have been killed

A national public inquiry into possibly thousands of missing and murdered indigenous women in Canada has called the deaths a "Canadian genocide".

The report was leaked to Canada's national broadcaster CBC which published details on Friday.

The 1,200-page document reportedly blames the disproportionate violence faced by indigenous women on deep-rooted colonialism and state inaction.

The report is due to be formally released at a ceremony on Monday.

The findings of the National Inquiry into Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls are long-awaited in Canada, where there are about 1.6m indigenous people.

"It took 40 years to get to this present moment and only because indigenous women have been on the ground making noise about this," Robyn Bourgeois, a campaigner on the issue, told the BBC.

The inquiry concluded that about 1,200 aboriginal women had been murdered or gone missing in Canada since 1980, but some activists say the number is likely to have been far higher.

The 2014 murder of an indigenous teenager, Tina Fontaine, galvanised national support for the better protection for indigenous women and girls.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made the inquiry and reconciliation with indigenous communities a top priority of his liberal government.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Schoolgirl Tina Fontaine was found dumped in Winnipeg's Red River in August 2014

National broadcaster CBC obtained an advance copy of the report. It contained 230 recommendations to tackle violence faced by indigenous communities, CBC said without giving details.

On Friday the inquiry said it would not discuss the recommendations ahead of official publication on Monday.

The report acknowledged disagreements over what constituted genocide, but concluded: "The national inquiry's findings support characterizing these acts, including violence against Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA [two-spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, queer, questioning, intersex and asexual] people, as genocide."

The inquiry, which cost C$92m ($67m; £53m), focused on the systemic causes of violence against indigenous women as well as on prevention.

It has heard from more than 2,000 witnesses since 2017 - including survivors of violence and family members of missing women.

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