SASKATOON – ANISHINABEK – Perry Bellegarde, candidate for National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations (AFN), says “The time to launch a full national inquiry and take immediate actions to address the phenomenon of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls is today. The time for simply talking about it is long past. It’s time to act right now.”
“Time is of the essence as we hear weekly of indigenous women and girls reported missing across our territories. We need Governments in Canada to acknowledge the rights of indigenous women and children to be safe and secure; we need Canada to believe that indigenous women and children deserve our best effort to keep them safe; and we need action now”, Chief Bellegarde added.
A 2009 report from Statistics Canada identified the fact that First Nations, Métis and Inuit women are three times more likely to experience violent victimization than non-indigenous women. Additionally, they are significantly over-represented as victims of homicide. Recently, it has been reported that the number of missing and murdered indigenous women and girls is in excess of 1,200.
“We have made these horrific facts known to the Government of Canada these past five years”, stated Chief Bellegarde. “What’s been done? Canada continues to reject calls for a full national inquiry. That is completely unacceptable.” He continued, “Why are we demanding a national inquiry? Because indigenous women and girls matter. And they deserve nothing less than to have this become a national conversation to bring light on the issues. While a national inquiry is an important step, it is not enough and that is why a full national action plan is also vital.”
Chief Bellegarde is committed to illuminating the root causes involving Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls; he applauds the work undertaken at the recent Aboriginal Women’s Summit held in Membertou, Nova Scotia and the conviction “to act and act now”. He will immediately call on indigenous leadership, representatives of all federal political parties, Provincial and Territorial Premiers and interested advocates to build a strategic plan that will assuredly lead to a national inquiry and national action plan.