(Enoch Cree Nation, AB): Assembly of First Nations (AFN) Regional Chief Shane Gottfriedson and AFN Women’s Council Co-Chair Therese Villeneuve will present a report to the Government of Canada based on input received this week at the AFN Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Pre-Inquiry Forum held in Enoch Cree Nation.
“For years we have said that a national inquiry must be meaningful and we must ensure it leads to transformative change on the ground and safety for our peoples and communities,” said AFN Regional Chief Shane Gottfriedson, who leads AFN’s work on justice and ending violence. “It is essential for First Nations to be part of the design of this inquiry. I am thankful to those who joined together today and those who have worked for many years to prevent violence and seek justice for survivors and families. Today’s discussion is informed by their work and their experiences and provides AFN input for a focused submission to the federal government on the design of the national inquiry on missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.”
First Nation citizens, leaders and experts gathered near Edmonton, Alberta for a one-day forum hosted by the AFN and the AFN Women’s Council. Open to the public, the Pre-Inquiry Forum was designed to help inform AFN’s submission to the Government of Canada’s ministers responsible for leading the design and implementation of the national inquiry on missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. The Forum provided context on previous inquiries and discussion was focused on the nine questions being presented in the federal engagement process.
“Every day Indigenous women and girls in Canada are left vulnerable because of daily 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. “Together we must ensure that this National Inquiry takes an in depth look at these and other root causes of violence and allows us to achieve real results, address them urgently and in ways that work for First Nations families and communities.”
Prior to the launch of the National Inquiry, the AFN, in coordination with families, women organizations and Indigenous organizations, has suggested it 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.
The AFN will be submitting a report to the ministers responsible for the national inquiry by February 15, 2016. The AFN, along with other National Aboriginal Organizations, federal, provincial and territorial representatives will meet in Winnipeg February 26 for the second National Roundtable on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.
For more information on work toward a national action plan to address and prevent violence against women and girls and the upcoming 2016 National Roundtable please visit: http://www.afn.ca/index.php/en/policy-areas/i-pledge.-end-violence.