AFN Continues Call for Independent Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Action to End Violence Against Indigenous Women

OTTAWA, Feb. 14 /CNW/ - As hundreds gathered in Vancouver for the 20th annual memorial march for missing and murdered women, Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo acknowledged the strength and resilience of the many families and friends directly affected by this tragic issue. 

"The Assembly of First Nations continues to urge the federal government to work collaboratively with Indigenous and women's organizations on an action plan focused on prevention and the safety and security of Indigenous women," said AFN National Chief Shawn Atleo. "Today we recognize the strength and resilience of the families, friends and support networks of the far too many girls and women lost to violence. At our Assembly last December, First Nation leaders from across the country called for an independent public commission of inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women in Canada. We emphasize again today the need for such an inquiry."

AFN has presented to the House of Commons Standing Committee on the Status of Women and has requested standing in the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry which will examine the conduct of police investigations of women reported missing from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside between January 23, 1997 and February 5, 2002.

"The AFN will continue to act and advocate for the protection and safety of First Nation women and children as a basic human right consistent with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples," said National Chief Atleo. "Chiefs from across Canada have made ending violence against women a key priority and we continue to advocate for support for community-based initiatives that work for First Nations such as Sisters in Spirit, a research, education and policy initiative coordinated by the Native Women's Association of Canada and driven and led by Aboriginal women.  Unfortunately, this initiative was dropped in the last federal budget.  It must be re-invigorated."

The annual women's memorial march, organized by women in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside, began in 1991 with the intent to "come together to grieve the loss of our beloved sisters, remember the women who are still missing and dedicate ourselves to justice."  On its 20th anniversary, the Valentine's Day march expresses compassion and community support for all women in the downtown eastside of Vancouver and the Coast Salish territories and honours the lives of all missing and murdered women.  Organizers of the march hosted a series of public awareness events earlier this month, including film screenings, art exhibits and educational, poetry and music activities.

The Assembly of First Nations is the national organization representing First Nation citizens in Canada.

SOURCE ASSEMBLY OF FIRST NATIONS

For further information:

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

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

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