Premiers, native leaders call for forum on missing and murdered aboriginal women

Canada’s premiers and aboriginal leaders are inviting the federal government to participate in a roundtable to address the high number of native women who are missing and murdered.

CHARLOTTETOWN — Canada’s premiers and aboriginal leaders are inviting the federal government to participate in a roundtable to address the high number of native women who are missing and murdered.

Premier Robert Ghiz of Prince Edward Island said while the premiers and native leaders would still like to see a public inquiry, they agreed to a compromise in the hopes of federal involvement.

“If we know we’re not going to get somewhere, there’s no point in us putting our head in the sand and saying, ’OK, we’re done with it,’ ” Ghiz told a news conference Wednesday after hosting a meeting with aboriginal leaders and his provincial counterparts in Charlottetown.

“We believe that it’s better to compromise and open up the first line of discussions rather than to just sit back and say, ’Well, I guess we’ll wait for the next election and see what happens.’ ”

Ghiz said he would like to see federal cabinet ministers such as those in the portfolios of justice and aboriginal affairs participate in the roundtable, though he added the proposal was still preliminary.

Prior to the meeting, Saskatchewan’s Brad Wall expressed his support for the idea.

“I don’t think anyone wants another ponderous, interminable process where we don’t have action and results,” Wall said.

“I think what we can achieve as premiers and as a country, if the federal government would engage, is an event and an exchange of best practices that’s informed by action.”

Wall said the provinces have already set up something similar for health-care innovation. He said the forum should look at the justice system, First Nations education and also focus on the responsibilities of aboriginal groups.

The premier said there have been 29 studies and reports on aboriginal issues since 1996 that have produced more than 500 recommendations and the forum could look at what action has been taken on those ideas.

The Assembly of First Nations and the Native Women’s Association of Canada have also indicated their support for such a plan.

The demand for federal action comes less than two weeks after the body of a 15-year-old aboriginal girl was found in the Red River in Winnipeg.

Native leaders have said Tina Fontaine’s death, considered a homicide by police, has highlighted the need for an inquiry.

In May, the RCMP released a study of 1,181 cases involving aboriginal women since 1980. The study found aboriginal women made up 4.3 per cent of the Canadian population, but accounted for 16 per cent of female homicides and 11.3 per cent of missing women.

The federal government has rejected calls for an inquiry, saying it has taken action to deal with the problem, including setting up a national DNA missing person’s index and introducing 30 justice and safety initiatives aimed at helping native women.

Harper has said most cases like Fontaine’s should be handled by the police, adding that it would be a mistake to consider the crime part of a “sociological phenomenon.”

In Ottawa, Opposition Leader Tom Mulcair said Wednesday an NDP government would launch a full public inquiry within 100 days of taking office after consulting with women and First Nations about its parameters.

Mulcair said only an inquiry can get at the systemic problems reflected in the murder rate among aboriginal women.

The federal Liberals have also promised to establish an inquiry.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

File photo
Gov’t of Alberta identifies estimated 300 new COVID-19 cases Sunday

Online COVID-19 dashboard unavailable as upgrades being completed

The Central Alberta Freestyle Ski Club is hoping to win $50,000 through the Mackenzie Investments Top Peak contest. (Contributed photo)
Central Alberta ski club trying to win $50K in online contest

A central Alberta ski club has entered a contest where it can… Continue reading

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Red Deer dips below 300 active COVID-19 cases

The number of active COVID-19 cases in Red Deer continued to drop… Continue reading

Ben King scores for the Red Deer Rebels during the third period of a Western Hockey League game against the Calgary Hitmen at the Westerner Park Centrium Saturday. (Photo by Rob Wallator/Red Deer Rebels)
Rebels complete comeback to pick up first win of season

Rebels 3 Hitmen 2 (OT) The Red Deer Rebels were able to… Continue reading

Minister of National Defence Harjit Sajjan takes part in a year-end interview with The Canadian Press at National Defence Headquarters in Ottawa on December 17, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Conservatives to call top Sajjan, Trudeau aides to testify on Vance allegations

OTTAWA — The federal Conservatives plan to summon two senior Liberal aides… Continue reading

Elvira D'Angelo, 92, waits to receive her COVID-19 vaccination shot at a clinic in Montreal, Sunday, March 7, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
‘It’s been a good week’: Tam hopeful on vaccines as pandemic anniversary nears

Several provinces were preparing to loosen COVID-19 restrictions on Sunday, as Canada’s… Continue reading

Mount Pearl Senior High in Mount Pearl, N.L., remains closed on Wednesday, March 3, 2021. The provincial health authority says there were 185 cases at 22 schools, including 145 infections among staff and students of one high school in Mount Pearl that was an early epicentre of the outbreak. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Daly
In Newfoundland and Labrador, three ingredients made for explosive COVID-19 outbreak

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — With her classes, three part-time jobs and a… Continue reading

A passenger places a tag on luggage at the departure terminal at Toronto Pearson Airport, in Mississauga, Ont., Friday, May 24, 2019. The economic and life disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has prompted many recent immigrants to leave Canada and return to their countries of origin, where they have more social and familial connections. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
COVID-19 pandemic prompts recent newcomers to leave Canada for their home countries

OTTAWA — The economic and life disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic… Continue reading

Rail cars wait for pickup in Winnipeg, Sunday, March 23, 2014. The fierce debate over cross-border pipelines is putting more Canadian oil and gas on trains destined for the United States — a country experts fear is ill-equipped for the potential consequences. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods
As debate rages over cross-border pipelines, U.S. analysts brace for more oil by rail

WASHINGTON — The fierce debate over cross-border pipelines is putting more Canadian… Continue reading

Pictures and notes in from friends and classmates make up a memorial in support and memory of Aubrey Berry, 4, and her sister Chloe, 6, during a vigil held at Willows Beach in Oak Bay, B.C., on December 30, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Mother of slain daughters supports recent changes to Canada’s Divorce Act

VICTORIA — Legal experts and a mother whose ex-partner was convicted of… Continue reading

Radio and television personality Dick Smyth is shown in an undated handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO
Dick Smyth, Canadian maestro of news radio commentary, dies at 86

TORONTO — Radio and television personality Dick Smyth, whose booming commentary filled… Continue reading

Walter Gretzky father of hockey hall-of-famer Wayne Gretzky waves to fans as the Buffalo Sabres play against the Toronto Maple Leafs during third period NHL hockey action in Toronto on Tuesday, January 17, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Funeral for Walter Gretzky to be held Saturday in home town of Brantford, Ont.

The funeral for hockey legend Wayne Gretzky’s father Walter will take place… Continue reading

Most Read