AFN Receives Standing at British Columbia Missing Women Commission of Inquiry

OTTAWA, May 4 /CNW/ - Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo welcomes yesterday's decision by The Honourable Wally Oppal to grant AFN and other First Nation organizations standing at the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry. 

"Consistent with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples where safety and security is a basic human right, First Nations in Canada have made ending violence against women and children a key priority," said AFN National Chief Shawn Atleo.  "AFN's participation in the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry, will help us continue our supportive efforts in seeking justice for the family and friends of the murdered and missing women in British Columbia and across the country, totaling almost 600 unresolved cases.  It will also assist us in continuing our advocacy efforts to ensure safety and security for all First Nation citizens, including focusing on prevention to lessen vulnerability among our peoples."

The Missing Women Commission of Inquiry, led by The Honourable Wally Oppal, will examine the conduct of police investigations of women reported missing from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside between January 23, 1997 and February 5, 2002.  It will also review the January 1998 decision by the Ministry of Attorney General's criminal justice branch to stay charges against Robert W. Pickton for the assault of a Downtown Eastside sex trade worker.  The Commission will make recommendations to address changes deemed necessary to rectify the deficiencies as may be established in the hearings. 

"We look forward to the Commission's hearings and its sessions in northern communities along the Highway of Tears," said National Chief Atleo.

In its submission for standing, AFN stated it will further the inquiry by providing insight and assistance with the development of culturally appropriate policies; by holding the inquiry accountable to victims, families and Aboriginal interest groups; and by allowing the families, friends, communities and First Nation and Aboriginal populations of Canada to feel adequately represented at the inquiry 

In a ruling on participation at the Inquiry released May 3, 2011, Commissioner Oppal stated:  "I am … satisfied the participation of the AFN would further the conduct of the inquiry and contribute to its fairness by providing a national First Nations and Aboriginal perspective."

The Assembly of First Nations is the national organization representing First Nations citizens in Canada.  National Chief Atleo and AFN are on Twitter.  Follow us @NCAtleo @AFN_Updates @AFN_Comms.

SOURCE ASSEMBLY OF FIRST NATIONS

For further information:

Contact information:

Don Kelly, AFN A/Communications Director 613-241-6789 ext. 334 or cell: 613-292-2787 or email dkelly@afn.ca 

Jenna Young, AFN Communications Officer 613-241-6789, ext 401 or cell: 613-314-8157 or email jyoung@afn.ca 

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

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