“Time for justice”

Canada to investigate missing and murdered indigenous women

A First Nations protester at a march to mark National Aboriginal Day in Ottawa. (REUTERS/Chris Wattie)

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised a “total renewal” of his country’s relationship with aboriginal people, as he launched a national inquiry into the nearly 1,200 murders and disappearances of indigenous women in the last 30 years. Just 4 percent of Canada’s female population are indigenous women, but they make up 16 percent of all women murdered in the country, and they are three times more likely to report experiencing violence. “The victims deserve justice, their families an opportunity to heal and to be heard,” said Trudeau at an Assembly of First Nations (AFN) special chiefs gathering in Gatineau, Québec. “We must work together to put an end to this ongoing tragedy.” While aboriginal activists and leaders, along with the family of victims had been asking for the inquiry for years, Trudeau’s conservative predecessor Stephen Harper was not receptive to their calls.

Over the next two months, the government will start consulting victims’ families and Aboriginal leaders on all aspects of the national inquiry, which is expected to begin next spring and will “take as long as it takes to get it right.”

Claudette Commanda, an Algonquin First Nations member and activist called the inquiry a “historical event,” saying: “it is time to hear their voices, it is time for justice.”

Mag Cywink, whose sister Sonya was killed in 1994, was hoping for more concrete action from the government, saying: “A lot of the homework has already been done, a lot of the answers are out there, a lot of the questions have been answered about what’s wrong and what’s causing these kinds of problems.” She would rather have the government look at past inquiries and studies, and start implementing the hundreds or recommendations that have already been put forward.

Read the full story at The Guardian.

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