OTTAWA, Feb. 12, 2016 /CNW/ - Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde, together with Regional Chief Shane Gottfriedson and AFN Women's Council Chair Therese Villeneuve, acknowledge and thank the many women, children and families joining together this February 14 in memory of victims of violence.
"This weekend we remember and honour the far too many women who have become victims to violence. It is because of them and for the safety of all of our sisters, mothers, and daughters, that we must act now to end violence," said AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde. "Addressing and preventing violence against Indigenous women and girls must become Canada's priority. Indigenous lives matter and we cannot wait any longer to see results of decades of grief. We will continue to press all levels of government for commitment to a coordinated national action plan that will outline investments in creating safe spaces and communities for our peoples to thrive."
Memorial marches are being held across the country and internationally February 14. The events, which originated in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside more than 25 years ago, provide an opportunity for communities to come together to grieve the loss of loved ones to violence and to remember those missing.
The memorial marches take place during the National Inquiry federal engagement process, and weeks before the second National Roundtable on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls which will gather families, Indigenous leaders, Premiers, territorial leaders and federal Ministers in Winnipeg, MB February 26.
"The work does not start and should not end with a National Inquiry," said AFN Regional Chief Shane Gottfriedson who is responsible for the justice portfolio at AFN. "We need to see a clear and strong commitment from all levels of government to address and prevent violence against Indigenous women and girls, and this must be done through the development of a coordinated national action plan. We cannot wait until the end of an inquiry to see results on the ground. Action is required now to better ensure the safety of our most vulnerable."
Last week First Nation citizens, leaders and experts gathered in Enoch Cree Nation near Edmonton for a one-day Pre-Inquiry forum hosted by the AFN and the AFN Women's Council. Input from the focused session will be submitted to the federal government as part of the National Inquiry on missing and murdered Indigenous women federal engagement process.
"It's essential that families are front and center of the National Inquiry and that First Nations and Indigenous women's organizations also help inform the terms of reference and in the development of a coordinated national action plan," said AFN Women's Council Chair Therese Villeneuve. "That's why we came together last week for focused discussion on how the National Inquiry should roll out. It must be inclusive and targeted toward results that will meet the needs in the communities. It cannot simply produce another report. It must demand action that will mean safety and security for our women, children and families."
For more information on work toward a national action plan to address and prevent violence against women and girls and the upcoming 2016 National Roundtable please visit: http://www.afn.ca/index.php/en/policy-areas/i-pledge.-end-violence.
The Assembly of First Nation is the national organization representing First Nation citizens in Canada. Follow AFN on Twitter @AFN_Comms, @AFN_Updates.
SOURCE Assembly of First Nations
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