Public Inquiry: Harper, Police Chiefs Don’t Care About Aboriginal Women

by: Obert Madondo  | Published Wed, Aug 27, 2014

Shannon Alexander and Maisy Odjick are two of the more than 1200 missing or murdered Aboriginal women in Canada today. (Photo: OBERT MADONDO/The Canadian Progressive)

Shannon Alexander and Maisy Odjick are two of the more than 1200 missing or murdered Aboriginal women in Canada today. (Photo: OBERT MADONDO/The Canadian Progressive)

The louder the call for an inquiry into the case of missing and murdered aboriginal women, the clearer the image of the ugly powers standing in the way: Stephen Harper and Canada’s top cops.

Pressure for a national inquiry intensified last week after the body of 15-year-old Tina Fontaine was found in a Winnipeg river. First Nations leaders and organizations, rights groups and individuals demanded a fully-funded national inquiry.

As usual, the prime minister reiterated his racism-inspired opposition to a public inquiry.

The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police just validated Harper’s position. On Tuesday, the association trashed the idea of a public inquiry. As the CBC News reported, the police chiefs’ rational is that an inquiry “would only delay action.” It’s no consolation that Canada’s top cops also suggested that all levels of government should “take immediate action to address the underlying issues that lead aboriginal women to be vulnerable to crime and violence.”

Meanwhile, the Aboriginal People’s Television Network (APTN) reports that the the RCMP has “quietly scaled back its investigative unit that probes the infamous Highway of Tears in British Columbia.”

From APTN:

The RCMP recently announced a $4.2 million budget cut to their operations in B.C.

But what didn’t immediately make the news was $1.4 million of that will hit its major crime unit – the same unit that investigates the 18 missing and murdered women, many Indigenous, along Highways 16 and 97 in northern B.C.

That’s more inaction.

Ironically, earlier this year, the RCMP released a groundbreaking report indicating that 1,181 aboriginal women have gone missing or been murdered in Canada in the last 30 years. (PDF version). Various studies have revealed that, while Aboriginal women comprise only 4.3 per cent of the Canadian population, they are three times more likely to experience violence than non-Aboriginal women. Aboriginal women also comprise 11.3 per cent of missing women and 16 per cent of female homicides.

In the words of David Langtry, the Acting Chief Commissioner of the Canadian Human Rights Commission: “This is not acceptable in a country like Canada.”

Quite frank, Harper and the top cops are out of touch with the national sentiment on the issue of missing murdered aboriginal women.

Early this year, the Native Women’s Association of Canada delivered 23,088 signatures from concerned Canadians and First Nations demanding an inquiry.

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On Wednesday, NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair announced he would launch an inquiry “within 100 days of taking office” if the Official Opposition is elected in 2015.

Last August, provincial premiers and aboriginal leaders meeting in Toronto called for an inquiry. They meet Charlottetown on Wednesday and are expected to reiterate their commitment to a national inquiry.

The international community too expects Canada to create an inquiry. A report released by Professor James Anaya, the UN special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, last May, called for an inquiry. The report also confirmed that there is a crisis when it comes to the way the Canadian government treats aboriginal peoples.

Obert Madondo is an Ottawa-based progressive blogger, and the founder and editor of The Canadian Progressive. Follow him on Twitter.com/Obiemad

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Obert Madondo

Publisher and editor
Obert Madondo is an Ottawa-based independent journalist and progressive political blogger. He's the publisher and editor of The Canadian Progressive.
  • S N Smith

    You are doing a great job Obert!