OTTAWA, Aug. 3, 2016 /CNW/ - After decades of hard fought activism by families of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, the Assembly of First Nations (AFN), grassroots activists and domestic and international advocacy groups, the Government of Canada today announced that it is initiating a national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.
"Today, we stand with the families of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls to ensure their voices are heard through all stages of this inquiry so that it leads to real action, change and some measure of justice for all those affected by this national tragedy," said National Chief Bellegarde. "We expect the Commissioners to act on their mandate in the broadest way possible to fulfill their responsibilities to the families and to Indigenous women and girls. We continue to press for immediate actions aimed at safety, security and ending violence for First Nations people while the inquiry does its work."
Since 2010, the AFN Chiefs-in-Assembly have passed seven specific resolutions calling for a national inquiry. The National Chief wrote the Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada as recently as July 12 stating that an inquiry must, amongst other principles, reinforce Indigenous rights and human rights, be consistent with United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and other international instruments, and ensure accountability to First Nations and families of Indigenous women and girls affected by violence.
"Too many lives have been touched by this horrific national tragedy," said AFN Women's Council Chair, Association of Iroquois and Allied Indians Deputy Grand Chief Denise Stonefish. "It is important that the Government of Canada has finally responded to the call for a national inquiry. Today's announcement is a direct result of years of advocacy and tireless grassroots activism by our incredibly resilient women. I lift up our sisters for this work, and I stand with them as we embark on what is sure to be a difficult road ahead and a necessary path on our journey."
Many reports and studies, including those by the United Nations, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights confirm that Indigenous women and girls are disproportionately at risk and point to the need for an approach consistent with international human rights standards. This includes state obligations for due diligence respecting the duty to prevent, investigate, remedy and provide reparations. The participation of the provinces and territories in the Inquiry is an important step in identifying and addressing the role of police and recommendations to correct and improve policing practices, policies and oversight. The National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls was announced today at a gathering at the Museum of History in Gatineau, Quebec.
AFN British Columbia Regional Chief Shane Gottfriedson, who oversees the AFN portfolio for missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, stated: "The tragedy of missing and murdered indigenous women and girls is a national crisis and an international shame. Our stolen sisters, their families and communities deserve better. My hope is that the national inquiry will be a turning point in achieving justice for our stolen sisters and acting on root causes. Together, we must work towards reconciliation and to a safer and more respectful country not only for all First Nations but for all Canadians."
The Assembly of First Nations is the national organization representing First Nation citizens in Canada. Follow AFN on Twitter @AFN_Comms, @AFN_Updates.
SOURCE Assembly of First Nations
For further information: please contact: Jenn Jefferys, AFN Communications Officer, 613-241-6789 ext. 110, cell: 613-222-9656, firstname.lastname@example.org