November 25, 2015
(Ottawa, ON): On the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde and AFN Women’s Council Chair Therese Villeneuve said safety and security for Indigenous women and girls must be an immediate priority for all Canadians.
“The right to life, security and to live free of discrimination must apply to the most vulnerable, and protecting the lives of Indigenous women and girls must be an immediate priority for First Nations, all governments and all Canadians,” said AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde. “We hear the statistics but it’s time we understand exactly what they mean. More than 1,200 of our mothers, sisters, aunts and daughters have been lost as a result of violence. We must begin working together now with the families of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, Indigenous organizations, the federal government and the provinces on a National Inquiry and a national action plan to address and end violence in this country.”
Statistics Canada reported today that the rate of homicide for Aboriginal women is six times greater than for non-Aboriginal women. The Government of Canada has announced that work is underway toward a National Inquiry on missing and murdered Indigenous women in Canada. The AFN supports the inquiry, as do other Indigenous organizations, women’s groups and three-quarters of all Canadians.
“Every day, Indigenous women and girls in Canada are left vulnerable because of challenges like housing and shelter shortages, lack of access to quality education or day-care for their kids,” said AFN Women’s Council Chair Therese Villeneuve. “A National Inquiry is necessary to highlight these and other root causes of violence and allow us to address them in ways that work for our people and communities. We continue to urge the new federal government to work together with the families of missing and murdered Indigenous women and representative Indigenous organizations and women’s organizations to develop a terms of reference for the National Inquiry and through to its completion. Their voices must be heard.”
The AFN, in coordination with families and Indigenous organizations, has suggested a National Inquiry must be able to:
- Conduct an open and transparent examination of the socio-economic, political and historical factors that lead to increased vulnerability among Indigenous women across Canada, in reserve, rural and remote communities, urban centres, and the North;
- Examine police practices and protocols with regard to investigations in incidences where Indigenous women are reported missing, communications with families and among and between jurisdictions, and the collection and tracking of data;
- Assess existing recommendations made in previous commissions, inquiries, reports and task forces (such as the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, Manitoba Justice Inquiry, National Aboriginal Women’s Summits, etc.) with a focus on identifying critical barriers to their implementation and strategies to overcome these;
- Provide a safe forum for families to share their experiences and directly provide recommendations for change;
- Review innovative practices and community-based supports in preventing violence and achieving reconciliation; and
- Provide tangible recommendations and an implementation plan to prevent violence and improve responses where women are missing or murdered.
For more information on support for National Inquiry and work toward a coordinated action plan to end violence please visit: http://www.afn.ca/index.php/en/policy-areas/i-pledge.-end-violence.
For more information on the international day for the elimination of violence against women please visit: http://www.un.org/en/events/endviolenceday/