OTTAWA, Dec. 17, 2012 /CNW/ - Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo today expressed the need to build on the recommendations of the BC Missing Women Commission released by the BC government this afternoon in Vancouver, continuing to urge government commitment to a National Public Commission of Inquiry that would address the root causes of violence against Indigenous women across Canada.
"We must build on the recommendations of the BC Missing Women Commission, and the good work being done across the country by Indigenous, First Nation and women's organizations, to ensure violence ends against and among our peoples," said AFN National Chief Shawn Atleo, who also shared his support for the families and loved ones impacted by the tragedies in BC and across the country. "We will continue our calls for a National Public Commission of Inquiry that addresses the root causes of why so, and too many, Indigenous women find themselves in vulnerable situations."
The calls for an independent National Public Commission of Inquiry on missing and murdered Indigenous women have been strongly made by First Nation leadership over many years, most recently during the AFN Special Chiefs Assembly earlier this month and last week when National Chief Atleo stood with the family of Summer Star Elizabeth Krista-Lee Fowler who echoed the calls.
"In the depth of our grief for our beloved daughter, we are comforted in the support of our leaders, for continuing to take this message forward and to advocate on behalf of us and the other families impacted by such tragedies," said Matilda Fowler from Vancouver December 12, mother of 16 year old CJ Morningstar Fowler whose body was found in Kamloops on December 5.
A National Public Commission of Inquiry would examine the socio-cultural and socio-economic risk factors associated with Indigenous women and girls, and include public hearings and a review of police policies and procedures in regard to searches, investigations and communication between police, officials and families.
More specifically, a National Public Commission of Inquiry on violence against Indigenous women and girls could: ensure an open and transparent examination of the socio-economic, political and historical factors that lead to increased vulnerability; examine police practices and protocols with regards to investigations in incidences where Indigenous women are reported missing, communications with families and among and between jurisdictions; build on and examine the substantial - and sadly often unimplemented - recommendations made in previous commissions, inquiries, reports and task forces (such as the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, Manitoba Justice Inquiry, National Aboriginal Women's Summits, etc.) with a focus on identifying critical barriers to their implementation and strategies to overcome these; examine supports, experiences and strategies in urban centres; provide special focus on the North and the unique perspectives and experiences of Northern First Nations and Inuit communities; review innovative practices and community-based supports in preventing violence and achieving reconciliation.
"Commissioner Oppal's findings in his Report only confirm what First Nations have been saying for decades - First Nation women and girls are far too often in vulnerable situations that result in violence and death," said AFN BC Regional Chief Jody Wilson-Raybould. "The recommendations in Commissioner Oppal's Report seem promising, but work needs to be done at a national level to get at the root causes of a justice system that continues to allow this violence to occur. We must see a commitment from the Prime Minister to the establishment of a National Public Commission of Inquiry to address these underlying systemic issues so that this violence does not continue to happen without action for justice or prevention."
AFN continues to work in coordination with First Nations across the country and other Indigenous and women's organizations, including the Native Women's Association of Canada (NWAC), to develop a national action plan to end violence against Indigenous women and girls. AFN and NWAC plan to host a national forum in 2013.
The BC Missing Women Commission of Inquiry, led by the Honourable Wally Oppal examined the conduct of police investigations of women reported missing from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside between January 23, 1997 and February 5, 2002.
The Assembly of First Nation is the national organization representing First Nation citizens in Canada. Follow us on Twitter @AFN_Updates and @AFN_Comms.
SOURCE: ASSEMBLY OF FIRST NATIONS
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