Harper government continues to ignore calls for probe into missing Aboriginal women

Taken from NationTalk.ca

OTTAWA – Aboriginal women continue to feel targeted and vulnerable because the Harper government continues to ignore their calls for a judicial investigation into the devastatingly high number of missing and murdered Aboriginal women and girls, said Liberal Status of Women Critic Anita Neville and Aboriginal Affairs Critic Todd Russell.

“I have been doing ongoing consultation with Aboriginal women’s groups ever since we called for a full investigation, and I continue to hear the same thing: the Conservative government’s response to this issue is highly inadequate and, as a result, women still feel unsafe,” said Ms. Neville.

A report from the Native Women’s Association of Canada found that a staggering 520 Aboriginal women and girls have been murdered or gone missing in Canada since 1970. Of that number, 67 percent were tragically murdered, while a troubling 24 percent remain missing, according to the report. Fourteen percent of the missing girls and young women were under 18 years of age at the time of their disappearance.

Liberals asked for a full investigation in the House of Commons back in May. To date, the Minister of State for the Status of Women, Helena Guergis, has not responded. On June 26, Ms. Neville and Mr. Russell received a letter from Justice Minister Rob Nicholson that completely ignores their request.

“Aboriginal women don’t need a recap from this government of the programs they are funding nor do they deserve to be brushed off in this manner – what they need is concrete action to get to the bottom of what happened to these women,” said Mr. Russell.

Ms. Neville said one of the ways this issue could be addressed is to tackle human trafficking in Canada. Last month, the Harper Conservatives were the only party in the House of Commons to oppose a motion that would have called on the government to create a plan of action to address human trafficking in Canada.

“It could be an important tool to preventing further disappearances of Aboriginal women and girls,” she said. > Ms. Neville was meeting with the Assembly of First Nations Women’s Council today to discuss this and other issues affecting Aboriginal women. That followed a larger gathering of the AFN yesterday with Liberal MPs Dr. Carolyn Bennett, Dr. Kirsty Duncan and Ms. Neville and Mr. Russell to discuss the H1N1 flu pandemic that has struck several Aboriginal communities.

“Liberals believe it is important to keep the dialogue open with our First Nation friends as we do what we can to assist them in their battles for healthy communities,” said Ms. Neville. “Unlike this Conservative government, we take the issue of missing Aboriginal women and girls seriously. They most certainly deserve no less attention and protection than all other women in Canada – and it’s time for the Harper government to stop ignoring them.”

Story here.