THUNDER BAY – POLITICS – Provincial Premiers are leading the call for a National Inquiry into murdered and missing Aboriginal Women. At the Premier’s Gathering in Prince Edward Island, Premier Joe Ghiz went so far as to suggest unless Prime Minister Harper changes his mind on the issue it is time for a new Prime Minister.
The Official Opposition New Democrats are stating that in the first 100 days of an NDP Government start the inquiry.
Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau states that “Prime Minister Harper is on the wrong side of history on this issue”.
The call for a national inquiry was also backed by Thunder Bay City Council who passed a resolution seeking the federal government to start a national inquiry.
“The challenges and priorities before us are a tall order, but I am pleased that we came together today as individuals and as leaders to discuss working together to achieve change for First Nations and other Indigenous peoples in Canada,” said AFN National Chief Ghislain Picard from Charlottetown today, acknowledging Premier Robert Ghiz and Mi’kmaq territory as the site of the meeting. “We are encouraged by the agreement from Premiers and Territorial Leaders to convene regional roundtables and to engage in and support a national roundtable with Indigenous representative organizations to coordinate efforts to end violence against Indigenous women and girls.”
“Ending violence is a collective challenge for all of us – First Nations, the federal government and the provinces and regions,” said National Chief Picard. “Support for a national inquiry is welcomed, but we cannot stop here. We cannot find ourselves in the same situation again next year. We absolutely need to make progress and it needs to start now. We will move forward on plans, but we do need everyone at the table and supporting all efforts to address ongoing challenges and root causes of vulnerability and violence.”
The Assembly of First Nations will be providing to Premiers tomorrow a paper called “Taking Action Together on Shared Priorities: for the future of Indigenous Peoples and all of Canada”, outlining specific recommendations in the areas of Education, Economic Development, Ending Violence Against Indigenous Women and Girls, Housing, National Disaster Mitigation, Child and Family Services and Health. This paper is available at www.afn.ca.
Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party of Canada and MP for Saanich–Gulf Islands, supports the call from Canada’s premiers and Aboriginal leaders for a national inquiry into Canada’s crisis of missing and murdered Aboriginal women and girls.
“The violence faced by Aboriginal women and girls in this country is our shared national disgrace,” said May. “It is not enough to simply say, as Prime Minister Harper has, that Tina Fontaine’s murder was a crime – We must confront the racism, poverty and legacies of colonialism leading up to it. That is why our party has been calling for an inquiry since October 2013. I applaud Canada’s Premiers and Aboriginal leaders for demanding an inquiry so that our country can at last move forward in resolving this crisis.”
This week, provincial and territorial premiers, along with the leaders of the five national Aboriginal organizations, are meeting in Charlottetown for the 55th annual Council of the Federation Premiers Conference. The Premiers, along with the five national Aboriginal leaders are expected to issue a statement calling on the federal government to begin a public inquiry into the disproportionately high number of missing and murdered Aboriginal women and girls in Canada.
“An inquiry is long overdue,” said Green Deputy Leader Bruce Hyer, MP for Thunder Bay–Superior North. “We can’t keep ignoring the connections between these acts of violence committed against Aboriginal women and girls. We owe it to the victims and their families to use every tool we have to investigate this serious problem and solve it, before even more women are put at risk. The government must act now and open an inquiry.”
“All Canadians must concern themselves with the alarmingly high rates of violence against girls and women – This country needs to be a safe place for all of our daughters,” said Green Party Aboriginal Affairs Critic Lorraine Rekmans. “The murder and disappearance of women is unacceptable in any country. We need an inquiry and an accounting of all agencies that are supposed to be protecting us.”
“An RCMP report issued earlier this year states that there have been 1,181 police-recorded incidents of aboriginal homicides and unresolved missing women investigations over the past 30 years, and aboriginal women are more than seven times as likely as non-aboriginal women to be victims of homicide,” added Hyer.
“According to the RCMP,” declared MNO President Gary Lipinski, “over 1,181 Aboriginal women have gone missing or have been murdered. Clearly these numbers are without precedent and there are underlying problems and contributing factors that need to be examined. Why are Aboriginal women more vulnerable than main stream society? We absolutely have to do whatever we can do to turn this around and declare that by no means is this an acceptable norm.”
“Our country is in desperate need of determined political leaders who are willing to confront complex issues. Our members hope to see that leadership this week in Charlottetown,” said Unifor National President Jerry Dias. “For Prime Minister Stephen Harper to declare that there is no sociological phenomenon behind the murder and disappearance of Aboriginal women in this country is disgraceful and an indication that he does not have the insight, understanding or leadership this country requires,” Dias said.
Unifor is seeking a national inquiry into murdered and missing Aboriginal Women.