"We want much more than poverty, violence, exploitation and murder for Aboriginal Women." – Michèle Audette, Native Women’s Association of Canada.
Ottawa (18 Dec. 2012) – The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) and the Canadian Feminist Alliance for International Action (FAFIA) have issued a press release in response to the final report of the B.C. Missing Women Commission of Inquiry. The report is in response to the serial killing of numerous women in the Vancouver area by William Pickton.
The 1,400 page report entitled Forsaken makes 65 recommendations aimed at avoidng another serial killer preying on vulnerable women. Former B.C. Appeal Court Justice Wally Oppal stated that although he pointed out numerous critical mistakes by the police, he does not lay these mistakes soley at the feet of the police. Poverty, racism, drug addiction and a lack of affordable housing are systemic issues, he noted, that led to the victims ending up on the street.
In responding to the report, Michèle Audette, President of NWAC, stated, “The Oppal inquiry did not deal with all of the murders and disappearances of Aboriginal women and girls even in the Province of British Columbia – and the murders and disppearances have continued."
“The Oppal inquiry did not focus specifically on Aboriginal women and girls, and the multiple factors which cause the epidemic of extreme violence against them,” she stressed.
“The inquiry proceeded without Aboriginal women’s organizations, without any Aboriginal organizations and without the women’s organizations who know about the lives of vulnerable women,” Sharon McIvor of FAFIA stated.
Both organizations are calling upon the federal government to develop a national public inquiry with clear guarantees that Aboriginal women will be able to participate fully with funded legal counsel of their own choosing and that it will deal with the systemic issues that cause violence against Aboriginal women and girls such as poverty and sexism.
“Until we expose the root causes of the violence, we will not be able to prevent it. It is not an issue of police conduct alone,” McIvor stated.
Both groups have taken the issue of the murders and disappearances of Aboriginal women to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. McIvor concludes, “Until Canada has effective measures in place to stop the murders and disappearances of Aboriginal women and girls, we need the support and scrutiny of the international human rights community.”
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