Native Women's Association of Canada and Canadian Feminist Alliance For International Action Respond to Oppal by Calling for a National Public Inquiry and a Framework for Action to End Violence

OTTAWA and VANCOUVER, Dec. 17, 2012 /CNW/ - The Native Women's Association of Canada (NWAC) and the Canadian Feminist Alliance for International Action (FAFIA) responded to the final report of the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry by renewing their call for a national public inquiry into the hundreds of murders and disappearances of Aboriginal women and girls.

Michèle Audette, President of the Native Women's Association of Canada said: "This Inquiry dealt only with the failure of police around Vancouver to investigate and prosecute William Pickton in a timely way.   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 disappearances 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."

"Because of this limitation, we need a national public inquiry that is focused on the murders and disappearances of Aboriginal women and girls, in every part of Canada, which will deal with the systemic patterns and causes of the violence."

"The Native Women's Association of Canada was shut out of the B.C. Missing Women Commission of Inquiry, "said Sharon McIvor of FAFIA. "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, "said Sharon McIvor of FAFIA

"This process was discriminatory, and a betrayal of Aboriginal women and girls.  Because the Government of British Columbia refused to provide funding for legal counsel for parties granted standing at the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry, the Inquiry itself violated the rights of the most vulnerable women. It excluded them; it did not listen to them; and it refused to put them on an equal footing with police and government representatives," said McIvor.

"A national public inquiry must not repeat these shocking mistakes," said Audette. "That means a national inquiry must be established after full consultation with Aboriginal women and their representatives about the terms of reference and the process. There must be clear guarantees that Aboriginal women will be able to participate fully with funded legal counsel of their own choosing. Also, a national inquiry must deal with the systemic issues that cause the violence against Aboriginal women and girls — by this I mean poverty, racism, sexism, and the multiple effects of discrimination. 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."

"One element of the failure to deal with the causes of the violence against Aboriginal women and girls is the tacit acceptance of prostitution as a so—called "lifestyle choice," said Audette. "But it is societal discrimination and poverty that funnel Aboriginal women and girls into prostitution, where they experience extreme violence on a regular basis.  The Native Women's Association of Canada has a strong and clear position on prostitution. We want the women who are in prostitution to be decriminalized, but we want the laws enforced fully against pimps, traffickers, and johns for exploiting them.  We want much more than poverty, violence, exploitation, and murder for Aboriginal women."

"As well as a national inquiry, Canada also needs outside scrutiny," said McIvor. "NWAC and FAFIA have taken the issue of the murders and disappearances of Aboriginal women and girls to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, as well as other international bodies. We have asked for outside review because, 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."

The Native Women's Association of Canada position on prostitution can be found here: http://www.nwac.ca/programs/bedford-case

SOURCE: Native Women's Association of Canada

For further information:

Michèle Audette
President
Native Women's Association of Canada
Tel: (613) 722-3033 ext. 259
Toll Free:  1-800-461-4043
Fax: (613) 722-7687
Email: maudette@nwac.ca
(www.nwac.ca)

Sharon McIvor
Human Rights Committee
Canadian Feminist Alliance for International Action
Tel: (250) 378-7479
Fax: (604) 874-6661
Email: bearclaw@shaw.ca