OTTAWA, Oct. 3, 2013 /CNW/ - On October 4, the National Day of Remembrance for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women in Canada, Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo will join the families of missing and murdered Indigenous women on Parliament Hill for the eighth annual Sisters In Spirit Vigil. National Chief Atleo will call for urgent action and tangible results to achieve safety and security for Indigenous women and girls in Canada.
"October 4 is a day for the entire country to honour the memory of the far too many Indigenous women and girls that have lost their lives or remain missing, knowing that for many families they live with the memories of their loved ones every day of the year," said National Chief Atleo. "We must honour their memory and their families by joining the call for action aimed at achieving justice, improving community safety and preventing violence. We continue our call for a National Public Commission of Inquiry on Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women as well as urgent and concrete action to end violence against Indigenous women and girls."
The AFN National Women's Council also expressed urgent need for action. Chair Therese Villeneuve said: "The Government of Canada must begin to show real concern and value for the First Nation women and girls in this country. Safety and security must become paramount, particularly in northern and remote communities where access to shelters and culturally appropriate services such as Friendship Centres remains a major challenge for First Nations women living in these communities"
At the event hosted by the Native Women's Association of Canada (NWAC), coinciding with more than 177 Sisters In Spirit Vigils taking place across the country, National Chief Atleo will express the urgent need for the federal government to work together with Indigenous peoples and organizations to ensure justice for victims of violence and their families. First Nations are calling specifically for immediate action to support women's shelters and Friendship Centres, sustainable investments in family violence prevention, coordination among police services in data collection and incidence response, and services and infrastructure to support First Nation women and children.
Canada recently rejected recommendations by the United Nations Human Rights Council for it to work with Indigenous communities and provinces and territories to adopt a comprehensive, national plan aimed at ending violence against Indigenous women and girls, and to call a National Public Commission of Inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.
"At a time when we're marking the 250th anniversary of the Royal Proclamation and welcoming a United Nations Special Rapporteur to the country to examine the situation of Indigenous peoples, it is incumbent on Canada to agree to do better as a government and as a society," said National Chief Atleo. "Now more than ever, words must be supported by actions. We must do everything we can to ensure the safety and security of every woman and girl in this country. It is up to all of us to ensure concrete steps are taken to achieve real results."
The AFN and NWAC hosted a National Forum on Ending Violence and Community Safety in April 2013 to further efforts to develop a national action plan. Based on input from two national forums on community safety and ending violence, as well as direction from Chiefs and other leadership across the country, First Nations have put forward a draft National Action Plan to End Violence. To review the draft National Action Plan to End Violence visit: http://www.afn.ca/uploads/files/aga2013/nap-endviolence.pdf
There is growing support for an independent National Public Commission of Inquiry on missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, most recently from Premiers at their annual Council of the Federation meeting in July 2013.
Last year with support from CUPE National, AFN led a postcard writing campaign urging Prime Minister Stephen Harper to commit to a National Public Commission of Inquiry on Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women in Canada. For more information and to declare your support for ending violence against Indigenous women and girls visit http://www.afn.ca/index.php/en/policy-areas/i-pledge.-end-violence.
The October 4 event on Parliament Hill is one of many Sisters In Spirit Vigils taking place across the country. A detailed list of the Vigil locations is available at: http://www.nwac.ca/2013-vigil-locations
SOURCE: Assembly of First Nations
For further information:
Jenna Young AFN Communications Officer 613-241-6789, ext 401; 613-314-8157 or [email protected]
Alain Garon AFN Bilingual Communications Officer 613-241-6789, ext 382; 613-292-0857 or [email protected]