WINNIPEG — Indigenous and Northern Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett said she was hoping for firm commitments from the provinces Friday, as she entered a meeting with provincial representatives and aboriginal groups.
Bennett said she was looking for support from all provinces for the federal government’s plan for a national inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women. Provincial support is needed, she said, because the inquiry will delve partly into areas of provincial jurisdiction.
“We don’t believe that we can really do the job properly if the things that cross jurisdictions, like policing and child welfare, are not able to be properly dealt with,” she told reporters on her way into the Winnipeg meeting.
Bennett is also hoping the gathering will lead to more immediate steps to address areas such as housing and poverty among First Nations — some of the root social causes behind the high number of missing and murdered aboriginal women.
“People don’t want to wait until the end of the (inquiry) to get going on things.”
Hundreds of family members, indigenous leaders and politicians have assembled for the meeting.
Dawn Lavell-Harvard, president of the Native Women’s Association of Canada, said earlier this week the provinces need to look at how their child-welfare systems, policing practices and corrections facilities affect indigenous women.
National Chief Perry Bellegarde of the Assembly of First Nations said premiers drafting their budgets can do their part to improve education, affordable housing, detox and wellness centres.