[Canada] A national inquiry would empower First Nation women

Joseph  Quesnel Aand Steve Lafleur – Globe and Mail – Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Native Women =Globe and Mail = Lyle Stafford
Families attend the unveiling of a monument to missing or murdered Aboriginal women and girls at the Forks in Winnipeg on Aug. 12, 2014. Image: Lyle Stafford For The Globe and Mail

Two recent deaths in Manitoba have once again pushed the issue of missing and murdered aboriginal women into the political sphere. The government, up to now, has treated the issue as a matter of law enforcement. However, there are deeper issues and social trends that need to be addressed. It is time for a public inquiry.

Some worry that calling a public inquiry into the issue would merely be an academic exercise that would delay concrete action. That viewpoint is mistaken. Most Canadians cannot relate to the circumstances facing women on First Nations reserves. An inquiry would educate Canadians about the challenges, and could help force politicians to address the issue, rather than letting it fester. Until we take concrete action, including a public inquiry, missing and murdered aboriginal women will continue to be occasional blips on the political radar screen. Action and education need to go hand in hand to prevent the issue from slipping off the agenda.

This past May, the RCMP released a report that said almost 1,200 Aboriginal women have gone missing or been murdered over the last three decades. While skeptics are right to point out that 90 per cent of these crimes are solved, and that the ratio of male-to-female violence inflicted on aboriginals is the same as in the broader public, the rates of violence facing aboriginal people in general are much higher than for the broader public, even though the rates are falling . . .

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