(Ottawa, ON) – In recognition of the United Nations’ International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women acknowledged globally every November 25, Assembly of First Nations (AFN) Regional Chief for Alberta Cameron Alexis reiterated the need for concrete action and tangible results in addressing violence against Indigenous women and girls and achieving safe and secure communities.
“The loss of young Tina Fontaine and recent assaults on Rinelle Harper in Manitoba weigh heavy on the minds of all of us, and provide yet another reminder of a national tragedy that has gone on far too long. Violence against women and girls has no place in this country, and First Nations from across Canada are prepared for the hard work to address the root causes of violence and to recommend solutions that are culturally relevant and seamless in order to create a safe and secure reality for all of us,” said AFN Regional Chief Cameron Alexis who leads the work for the AFN national executive in addressing and ending violence against Indigenous women and girls.
Achieving safe, healthy and thriving communities is a priority for First Nations across Canada. First Nations have long advocated for action to address risks facing Indigenous women and girls, including urging a National Public Commission of Inquiry. The calls for an inquiry continue to gain growing public support including Premiers and Territorial leaders, and social justice and human rights organizations. A recent Angus Reid survey found three-quarters of Canadians support an inquiry. Last week, a number of Senators set out a course of legal action to compel a national inquiry.
“A National Public Commission of Inquiry is needed to address the root causes of violence and the vulnerabilities of Indigenous women and girls and we continue to push the Government of Canada to call an Inquiry,” said AFN Women’s Council Chair Therese Villeneuve. “This is not, however, our only approach. In addition to advancing campaigns and a national action plan and framework to end violence against Indigenous women and girls, AFN is currently planning a National Roundtable on Missing and Murdered Women together with other Indigenous organizations and the provinces, territories and federal government in February 2015. Our objectives are clear – tangible outcomes, support and investments that will keep Indigenous women and girls safe and long-term strategies to prevent further violence.”
With the intent of developing a coordinated action plan to save the lives of Indigenous women and girls, National Aboriginal organizations and provincial and territorial governments will come together for a roundtable discussion currently scheduled for February 2015. The federal government will also be invited to participate. The goal of the National Roundtable is to identify solutions and develop a sustained and committed dialogue to implement meaningful and effective solutions that will lead to ending violence against Indigenous women and girls.
To correspond with the International Day to Eliminate Violence Against Women and in advance of the National Roundtable, AFN is today launching an online survey to gain further input from First Nations.
“AFN has gathered concerns from First Nations through forums, assemblies, and social media and we’ve heard directly from victims and family members who have bravely shared their stories, but we want to hear more,” said AFN Regional Chief Alexis. “The survey we are launching today is yet one more avenue for people to make their experiences and their recommendations known. We will continue to reach out and ensure these voices inform the work at the National Roundtable. Canadians are beginning to understand that action on this critical matter is long overdue and this is why we are urging the federal government to take part and why we want to hear more from First Nations across the country.”
AFN invites everyone to take part in the survey and share priorities for action.
In December 1999, the United Nations General Assembly designated November 25 the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, and invited governments, international organizations and NGOs to organize activities designed to raise public awareness of the problem on that day. This year, the United Nations Secretary-General’s Campaign “Unite to End Violence Against Women is asking all to “Orange YOUR Neighbourhood”. Click here for more information.
Click here for more information about First Nation-led efforts to end violence.