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The need for a national Public Commission of Inquiry on Violence against Indigenous Women and Girls

Author: 
Compiled by Shari Narine
Volume: 
30
Issue: 
11
Year: 
2013

The need for a national Public Commission of Inquiry on Violence against Indigenous Women and Girls was one of eight issues raised with the Prime Minister when delegates from the Assembly of First Nations met with Stephen Harper on Jan. 11. In December, the AFN unanimously passed a resolution at the Special Chiefs Assembly calling for action if the government continues to refuse to move forward on the inquiry. The AFN is to coordinate political rallies on Parliament Hill and the offices of political representatives where First Nations leadership and families of victims would come together. The resolution also directed the AFN to “examine legal strategies, including a Canadian Human Rights Complaint against the federal, provincial governments and policing services.” The call for action is a welcomed move for Gladys Radek, co-founder of Walk4Justice. “I’m tired of hearing we’re having more meetings to talk about this. We need a national action plan,” said Radek. Her niece Tamara Chipman went missing along the Highway of Tears in 2005. “Radek says little attention is paid to investigating these disappearances because the women who go missing are Aboriginal. Radek said talks with the federal government need to lead somewhere. “At the rate this is going this is a genocide against the First Nations people. You take away our women, our men would not be here. We would not be able to stand here in solidarity. We are the lifegivers of our society,” she said. Despite resolutions passed by the AFN in 2010 and 2011, and a National Aboriginal Women’s  Summit held last October with provincial and territorial ministers, the inquiry has yet to get any commitment. The Women’s Summit resulted in the ministers agreeing to bring the issue to a meeting of the Council of the Federation Aboriginal Affairs Ministers Working Group in April 2013. “In my role as national chief I’m often asked to support legal and political action and stand with families to support them in their grief. What our people are saying is that we are pledging that we must end violence,” said Shawn Atleo. Atleo broke down during a news teleconference in late December when he spoke about accompanying a family to the morgue to identify the body of a loved one. “We once again find a sister tragically taken,” he said. “It is absolutely horrific.”

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