First Nation Leaders Across Canada Unite in Efforts to End Violence Against Women

OTTAWA, Dec. 6, 2012 /CNW/ - On the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women, also known as White Ribbon Day, First Nation leaders from across Canada continue to advance plans to seek justice and end violence against Indigenous women.

"A number of priority issues were deliberated this week by Chiefs in Assembly, and ending violence remains the constant bottom-line for our people," said AFN National Chief Shawn Atleo. "We are here fighting for the rights of our peoples back home in our communities - inherent rights and human rights - for they are the ones who suffer daily to meet the basic standards of life, and this too often includes the struggle to achieve safety and security.  We cannot lose any more of our sisters, mothers or daughters to violence. We need action at every level and the leadership is prepared to empower, support and encourage this action to achieve justice and end violence."

Planning for a national forum and strategizing on action and advocacy efforts aimed at ending violence against Indigenous women was the focus of just one of this week's many strategy sessions for Chiefs and Assembly delegates. Native Women Association of Canada President Michele Audette, along with AFN National Women's Council Member Adeline Webber and Families of missing and murdered Aboriginal women participated in thoughtful discussion and dialogue to support existing and new advocacy efforts for a National Commission of Inquiry on Missing and Murdered Aboriginal women.

"We are united in our calls for the federal government, provinces and territories to commit to working with us and other First Nation, Aboriginal and women's organizations on a National Public Commission of Inquiry that will seek and find the answers to prevent and end violence against women, regardless of where we live," said Native Women's Association of Canada President Michele Audette.

Yesterday Senator Sandra Lovelace Nicholas from Tobique First Nation in New Brunswick proposed an inquiry in the upper chamber on the "status, impact and effectiveness of the government's response to date" in regard to the issue of missing and murdered Aboriginal women in Canada.

"This is an important message from the Senate, and a welcomed one," said National Chief Atleo. "We will continue to press for an independent National Public Commission of Inquiry that will address root causes of violence and vulnerability and focus on action, awareness and prevention."

The call for an independent National Public Commission of Inquiry has been strongly made by First Nation leadership over many years, and was reiterated in July at the AFN Annual General Assembly in Toronto where Chiefs in Assembly reinforced the need for such an Inquiry to include hearings, a review of police policies and procedures in regard to searches, investigations and communication between police, officials and families, and  the examination of the socio-cultural and socio-economic risk factors associated with Indigenous women and girls.

With help from CUPE National, AFN launched a postcard and social media campaign in October encouraging Indigenous peoples and all Canadians to support calls for National Public Commission of Inquiry and make a personal declaration to live without violence. For more information visit http://www.afn.ca/index.php/en/policy-areas/i-pledge.-end-violence.

The National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women also known informally as White Ribbon Day is commemorated in Canada every December 6, the anniversary of the 1989 École Polytechnique Massacre.

The Assembly of First Nations is the national organization representing First Nations citizens in Canada. Follow AFN on Twitter at @AFN_Updates @AFN_Comms.

SOURCE: ASSEMBLY OF FIRST NATIONS

For further information:

Jenna Young, Assembly of First Nations Communications Officer 613-241-6789, ext 401 or cell: 613-314-8157 or e-mail jyoung@afn.ca

Alain Garon, Assembly of First Nations Bilingual Communications Officer 613-241-6789, ext 382 or cell: 613-2920857 or email agaron@afn.ca