The federal government says it has no plans to launch a national inquiry into the problem of missing and murdered Aboriginal women.
According to the Canadian Press, a spokeswoman for Peter McKay says the government has already taken concrete action, including passing legislation that gives women living on First Nations reserves access to emergency protection orders.
Reaction to the government’s decision has been critical.
Tracy Knutson is the provincial coordinator for Stops To Violence.
Knutson says she is disappointed the federal government isn’t embarking on a collaborative process, like an inquiry.
She says prevention and understanding the dynamics of why women are disappearing should be the first priority:
“We recognize that we have the Minister of Justice who is responding — but it’s much bigger than just a justice issue, and it’s much bigger than just the public system.”
Earlier this year, the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs, Bernard Valcourt, said he didn’t think an inquiry was needed because the problems are fairly clear — decades of failed policies towards First Nations.
However, Donna Brooks of the YWCA in Prince Albert says those comments aren’t good enough:
“Well, the reasons aren’t 100% known, you know — those are guesses. Yes, we can say some is poverty, we can guess at things, but we don’t know for sure.”
Meantime, the president of the Healing Moon Gathering, an event designed to help the families of women who have gone missing, agrees wholeheartedly.
Angie Bear says an inquiry would also make an important statement to the Canadian public:
“We need to have this inquiry and for the government to show that they care about the First Nations women of this country, to address that and make them know that they matter.”
She adds many family members of missing women simply can’t go on in life unless they find out what happened to their loved one.