Assembly of First Nations Says Special Committee Report Disappoints Victims and Families of Missing and Murdered Women and Girls and Calls on Government to Take Real Action: National Indigenous Leaders to Meet Monday to Plan Action

OTTAWA, March 7, 2014 /CNW/ - Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo stated today that the report of the Special Committee on Violence Against Indigenous Women disappoints victims and families of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls and does not go far enough to address the issue, adding that the leaders of national Indigenous organizations will be meeting to discuss immediate action to address this issue.

"The Special Committee on Ending Violence Against Indigenous Women heard emotional, powerful and constructive testimony and yet it's clear those voices were not heard," said National Chief Atleo.  "We know we cannot achieve the change we need without a clear, unequivocal commitment and systemic change to ending violence and taking all the necessary steps to ensure Indigenous women and girls are safe. This report is disappointing to Indigenous women and girls and all Canadians who stand with us.  I have spoken to the leadership of the Native Women's Association of Canada, the Metis National Council and the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami and we will be meeting Monday to discuss next steps and set out a plan to get action on this critical matter."

On December 5, 2013, AFN National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo appeared before the Special Committee on Violence against Indigenous Women and identified four areas for action.  The National Chief called for immediate actions to create change, the launch for a National Public Commission of Inquiry, the creation of a national action plan with clear goals, and an immediate increase in investments to front-line services such as shelters in urban and remote communities.  Today's report comes only two days after a memorial on Parliament Hill to commemorate the life of Loretta Saunders, a young Inuk woman who was dedicating her time and energy to researching violence against Indigenous women.

AFN Women's Council Chair Therese Villeneuve stated: "The AFN National Women's Council will continue to support the call for a National Public Commission of Inquiry.  Tomorrow is International Women's Day, a time to ask why Indigenous women are vastly, tragically over-represented in the cases of missing and murdered women.  It is clear that we need to look at the specific root causes and set out distinct recommendations to address this situation.  The Government of Canada must pull itself out of denial of this problem and move to acceptance and action now.  We support the call for immediate action and a national inquiry as essential to protecting and respecting Indigenous women and girls."

AFN Regional Chief Cameron Alexis, who holds the AFN portfolio for community safety and policing, said: "We are not pleased with a watered down procedural exercise with no commitment to act.  We call on the Government of Canada to work together with First Nations organizations and citizens to develop and implement a National Action Plan to end violence.  There is growing awareness of this tragedy and the public is standing with us.  We acknowledge the dissenting reports put forward today by the NDP and Liberal Party that support the call for a national inquiry and immediate action.  It's time to take this responsibility very seriously and this includes the federal government committing to action now and valuing the lives of Indigenous women and girls."

AFN National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo will be meeting with other leaders from National Aboriginal Organizations on Monday March 10, 2014 to discuss next steps on this issue.

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

SOURCE Assembly of First Nations

For further information:

Alain Garon, AFN Bilingual Communications Officer, 613-241-6789, ext. 382; 613-292-0857 or agaron@afn.ca