OTTAWA, April 10, 2015 /CNW/ - Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde today expressed serious concern that the federal government and the RCMP are withholding important and sensitive information about violence against Indigenous women and girls, and is demanding that this information be shared immediately with First Nations so that it can help inform work to address and prevent violence.
"It is absolutely unacceptable that important information on a priority issue is being withheld from First Nations," said AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde. "The federal government and the RCMP must immediately release all the information they have to First Nations so we can better understand the current situation and work together toward solutions."
RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson yesterday confirmed comments made last week by Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada Minister Bernard Valcourt that 70 per cent of Aboriginal women murdered in Canada were victims of violent acts by Aboriginal people. This figure only applies to cases that have been solved. An RCMP report released last May citing at least 1,181 indigenous women and girls were murdered or went missing between 1980 and 2012 did not include this information.
National Chief Bellegarde is sending a letter to the RCMP formally requesting that this information be shared with First Nations.
"That the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs is withholding important information and, worse, is using it against First Nations defies logic and the department's fiduciary duty," said National Chief Bellegarde. "Blaming the victim is no longer an option. The federal government must recognize the root causes of poverty and work with us to address the poor conditions and lack of supports that our people endure every day, including action to support men's healing programs. Minister Valcourt committed just over a month ago at the National Roundtable on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, to work with us on coordinated action to prevent and address violence. He cannot in good faith continue withholding information."
The National Roundtable on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls was held February 27, 2015 with commitments by all jurisdictions on the development of a national prevention and awareness campaign, a National Justice Forum to be hosted in Manitoba and for the group to meet again next year to discuss progress. First Nations continue to call for a National Public Inquiry as a tool to identify and address root causes, including the impacts of colonialism on First Nations.
For more information on work toward an action plan to end violence and support for a National Public Inquiry please visit: http://www.afn.ca/index.php/en/policy-areas/i-pledge.-end-violence.
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
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