OTTAWA, Dec. 8, 2015 /CNW Telbec/ – Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde, together with AFN BC Regional Chief Shane Gottfriedson, welcome today’s announcement by the Government of Canada to launch a national inquiry on missing and murdered Indigenous women in Canada.
“This has been a long time coming, and we have always said the families and individuals impacted by violence against women be central to immediate action and a national inquiry,” said AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde. “After years of denial and deflection, it is my hope we can make real strides in achieving justice for families and achieving safety and security for all our people. This approach is consistent with our calls for a new relationship and collaborative approach to addressing priorities. By working together and with the full participation of First Nations we can close the gap in the quality of life between First Nations people and Canadians. I look forward to continuing to work with the Government of Canada to ensure all priorities are met with the same urgency and collaborative approach.”
The federal ministers of Justice, Indigenous Affairs and Status of Women made the announcement in the foyer of the House of Commons early this afternoon. Ministers Jody Wilson-Raybould, Dr. Carolyn Bennett and Patty Hajdu today announced the first phase of a national inquiry on missing and murdered Indigenous women, which includes meeting with families, national Aboriginal organizations (including AFN), provinces and territories and interested parties and experts.
“We have made it clear that families, Indigenous organizations, women’s organizations and civil society organizations must inform the work of a national inquiry, and this includes being involved in pre-consultations and setting the terms of reference,” said AFN BC Regional Chief Shane Gottfriedson who leads national efforts in this area for the AFN. “We look forward to full participation to ensure the pre-consultation process and the scope of the inquiry will draw the required and necessary results. This cannot and will not be another report to sit on a shelf. This inquiry must lead to real action and results that achieve safety and security for Indigenous women and our families.”
The announcement took place on the first day of a three-day AFN Special Chiefs Assembly taking place at the Hilton Lac Leamy in Gatineau, Quebec this week. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau addressed Chiefs-in-Assembly and more than 1000 total delegates.
A dialogue and decision-making session on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls will take place Wednesday afternoon and will focus on the national public inquiry and processes to move to a coordinated national action plan. It will also include regional and community-based efforts to address and end violence and seek input for planning the second National Roundtable on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. A special screening of “1200+ Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women”, a film produced by Leonard Yakir and Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Grand Chief Sheila North Wilson will take place Wednesday evening.
For more information on support for a National Public Inquiry and work toward an action plan to address and end violence please visit: http://www.afn.ca/index.php/en/policy-areas/i-pledge.-end-violence.