indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+ indianz.com on soundcloud
phone: 202 630 8439
Dynamic Homes
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines
Print   Subscribe
Native women lead official inquiry into missing and murdered sisters

Filed Under: First Nations in Canada | Law | National
More on: crime, dawn lavell-harvard, fsin, heather bear, jody wilson-raybould, justin trudeau, law enforcement, marion buller, mmiw, niwrc, nwac, pamela palmater, rcmp, violence, women, youth
     
   

Marion Buller speaks at the launch of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls in Ottawa, Ontario, on August 3 2016. Buller, who was the first Native woman to serve as a judge in Canada, will serve as chief of the commission for the inquiry. Photo from GovCan Indigenous / Twitter

An effort that has been years in the making got its start on Wednesday with the launch of an official inquiry into countless missing and murdered Native women in Canada.

Native women and Native leaders have long been pushing for a comprehensive investigation, citing high numbers of deaths and disappearances across the nation. Their work finally came to fruition with the establishment of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.

The independent body will be led by five commissioners -- three of them Native women. Marion Buller (Cree), who is the first Native woman to serve as a judge in Canada, will serve as chief of the inquiry, and she will be joined by Marion Buller (Innu), Qajaq Robinson (Inuk), Marilyn Poitras and Brian Eyolfson.

During an hour-long ceremony in Ottawa, Ontario, Jody Wilson-Raybould, who is the first Native woman to serve as Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, said the inquiry fulfills a campaign promise of new Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. She believes the investigation will help explain why so many sisters, mothers, daughters and other loved ones have gone missing or have been murdered.

"By examining the root causes that have contributed to this national tragedy, including past and present systemic and institutional barriers, the commission of inquiry will play a pivotal role in helping all of us to define where best to continue to act to protect the human rights of all indigenous women and girls in Canada," said Wilson-Raybould, who is a member of the We Wai Kai Nation.


A rally on the steps of the Manitoba Legislature on October 4, 2015, called attention to the 1,200 missing and murdered indigenous women in Canada. Photo by Mark Trahant / Trahant Reports

Native women and Native leaders welcomed the launch even as some expressed concerns about the commission's mandate. As one example, the inquiry won't be able to examine the role of law enforcement in failing to investigate missing and murdered women and, in some instances, being responsible for violence itself.

"The omission of a specific mandate to investigate police conduct, taken together with the failure to establish a process to review the many problems with police investigations related to solved, unsolved, uninvestigated, and misnamed cases (like those prematurely deemed suicides or accidents) is also considered a gaping hole in the inquiry," Pamela Palmater, who is Mi'kmaq, wrote on Policy Options on Thursday.

Dawn Lavell-Harvard, the president of the Native Women's Association of Canada, was grateful that Trudeau's administration finally listened to the calls for the inquiry. Her organization had long been documenting hundreds of cases of missing and murdered women, a number that turned out to understate the enormous nature of the problem.

But the association said the commission won't be able to fully address the trauma suffered by those whose loved ones are gone because counseling appears to be limited in nature. Families won't be able to pursue or reopen cases in the justice system either.

"We recognize that five people cannot represent the diversity of our country and NWAC will work with the national inquiry to ensure that all voices that need to be heard will be heard," Lavell-Harvard, who is a member of the Wikwemikong First Nation, said in a press release.


The REDress Project raises awareness of missing and murdered Native women in Canada. Photo from Facebook

Advocates also noted the absence of officials from the provinces and territories of Canada at the announcement on Wednesday. They want to ensure that all governments are committed to participating in the inquiry even if might expose problems in their justice, child welfare and other systems.

"We urge the government of Saskatchewan to be comprehensive in the order-in-council authorizing the inquiry to examine all provincial institutions including policing, the child welfare system, the coroner’s office, and adult and youth correctional facilities," Heather Bear, a member of the Ochapowace First Nation who serves as vice chief of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations, said on Wednesday.

Trudeau's administration has committed $53.86 million, or nearly $41 million in U.S. currency, over two years for the inquiry. Another $16.17 million ($12.23 US) will be set aside over four years for "Family Liaison Units" that will provide victim services across Canada.

According to a May 2014 report from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, nearly 1,200 Native women went missing or were murdered between 1980 and 2012. That number was about twice as high as figures that were compiled by advocates like the Native Women's Association and others.

A December 2015 update from the RCMP cited 32 additional homicides and 11 more incidents of missing Native women and girls. Since then, the Native Women's Association has counted another 14 cases of women and girls who have gone missing or been murdered.

Advocates in the U.S. have been laying the groundwork on similar efforts, pointing to the high rates of violence and victimization suffered by American Indian and Alaska Native women. The deaths of three Native women and girls in the first half of 2015 has spurred calls for the designation of May 5, 2017, as the National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Native Women and Girls.

"The harsh reality of our lives as Native women is that we witness our sisters, mothers, daughters, and community members disappear and nothing is done," Cherrah Giles and Lucy Simpson of the National Indigenous Women's Resource Center wrote in a call to action on July 1.

The National Day of Awareness would fall on the birthday of Hanna Harris, a member of the Northern Cheyenne Tribe who was murdered in 2013 at the age of 21.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police Reports:
Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women: A National Operational Overview (May 2014)
2015 Update to the National Operational Overview (December 2015)

Related Stories:
Carly McIntosh: For our missing and murdered sisters in Canada (07/04)
Effort builds for missing and murdered Native women and girls (06/29)
Families of missing Native women in Canada still waiting for justice (05/24)
Mary Annette Pember: Missing and murdered Indian women go forgotten (04/14)
Charges laid for homicides of two women from same First Nation (03/28)
Sad news as body of missing Native teen girl is found in Ontario (03/22)
Alvin Manitopyes: Native women treated poorly in 'The Revenant' (01/21)
Carly McIntosh: The deep and dark secrets of Canadian history (01/11)
Families await inquiry into missing and murdered Native women (01/07)
Lenard Monkman: Raising our girls to be indigenous and fierce (12/14)
Tim Fontaine: Native people seeking action and justice in Canada (12/09)
Ruth Hopkins: Native woman leads inquiry into our missing sisters (12/09)
Mark Trahant: A new era of reconciliation emerges in Canada (11/09)
Carly McIntosh: Finding our missing and murdered Native women (10/22)
Mark Trahant: Far too many missing and murdered Native women (10/06)
Rosanna Deerchild: A terrifying reality facing indigenous women (10/05)
First Nations launch inquiry into missing and murdered women (09/10)

Copyright © Indianz.Com
More headlines...

Latest Headlines:

Trump administration rolls out first rule under historic trust reform law
Interior Department sends out another $13.1M in Cobell buy-back offers
Senate Committee on Indian Affairs headed to New Mexico for hearing
House committee again leaves out Indian Country in hearing on Interior
Mark Maxey: Oklahoma tries to crush Native protesters with new law
Carletta Tilousi: Havasupai Tribe threatened by uranium development
Opinion: Don't be fooled by Jimmie Durham's claims of Cherokee heritage
Opinion: Economic development for Indian Country in upcoming farm bill
Government worker suspended after calling Native principal a 'rabid s----'
Kiowa citizen Tristan Ahtone to report on tribes for High Country News
New York Times features Dina Gilio-Whitaker in editorial on health care
Tribes break ground on monument to their history in Virginia's capitol
Warm Springs Tribes battle large wildfire that broke out behind casino
Spokane Tribe casino doesn't bother Air Force despite claims in lawsuit
Tribes in for long haul as oil continues to flow through Dakota Access
Mark Trahant: Don't plan on getting sick if you're from Indian Country
Tiffany Midge: I shall joke as long as the grass grows and the rivers flow
Director of Office of Indian Energy deletes offensive Twitter account
States cheer decision on grizzly bears amid tribal concerns about hunts
Washington asks high court to overturn Yakama Nation treaty victory
New York Times editorial board reconsiders stance on racist trademarks
Colville Tribes remove council member a week before citizens go to polls
Marijuana firm promises big investments with help of ex-Seminole chair
Lumbee Tribe ordered to release voter list to opponents of chairman
National Indian Gaming Association chooses David Bean as vice chair
Eastern Cherokee citizen promoted to vice president of casino marketing
Tribes in Connecticut waiting on governor to sign bill for new casino
Secretary Zinke removes protections for grizzlies over tribal objections
Court sets final deadline for remaining payments from Cobell settlement
Mary Annette Pember: Indian Child Welfare Act strengthens our families
Peter d'Errico: Navajo authors offer fresh perspective on sovereignty
Native woman was jailed and forced to ride with assailant during trial
Ute Mountain Ute Tribe challenges new permit for uranium operation
Montana tribes get new member of Congress who pleaded to assault
Connecticut tribes welcome court decision favoring new casino law
Pueblo tribes dispute state's demand for $40M in gaming revenues
Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe remains confident of approval of casino
Nooksack Tribe accepting slot tickets while casino remains closed
Key House committee under fire for moving slowly on tribal agenda
Tribes go it alone on climate change as Trump team shifts priorities
Bryan Newland: President Trump's budget threatens tribal treaties
Steve Russell: The GI Bill changed the United States for the better
Harold Monteau: Democrats lack proactive agenda, proactive strategy
St. Regis Mohawk Tribe orders 20 non-citizens to leave reservation
Wilton Rancheria accused of working too closely with city on casino
Witness list for hearing on bill to reform the Indian Health Service
Arne Vainio: What does the princess want to be when she grows up?
Doug George-Kanentiio: 'Spirit Game' brings Iroquois lacrosse to life
Cronkite News: Navajo activist vows fight against racist NFL mascot
Eric Hannel: Addressing the health care crisis among Native Americans
Bill for tribal regalia at graduation ceremonies advances in California
Ramapough Lunaape Nation wins reversal of ruling on prayer camp
Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe still waits on casino ruling from Trump team
Another former leader of Winnebago Tribe pleads in gaming theft case
Supreme Court ruling poses hurdle for opponents of racist NFL mascot
Change the Mascot campaign responds to negative Supreme Court ruling
Secretary Zinke set for another hearing on Interior Department budget
Mark Trahant: Republicans write health reform bill behind closed doors
Jeff Grubbe: Agua Caliente Band focuses on protecting our groundwater
>>> more headlines...

Home | Arts & Entertainment | Business | Canada | Cobell Lawsuit | Education | Environment | Federal Recognition | Federal Register | Forum | Health | Humor | Indian Gaming | Indian Trust | Jack Abramoff Scandal | Jobs & Notices | Law | National | News | Opinion | Politics | Sports | Technology | World

Indianz.Com Terms of Service | Indianz.Com Privacy Policy
About Indianz.Com | Advertise on Indianz.Com

Indianz.Com is a product of Noble Savage Media, LLC and Ho-Chunk, Inc.