Ongoing Tragedy: A National Public Inquiry Is Needed

PRESS RELEASE – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

February 28, 2014 (Ottawa) – The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) is reaffirming its’ call for a National Public Inquiry into missing and murdered Aboriginal women and girls in Canada as the tragedy continues. Just in the past six months, NWAC has noted that at least eight Aboriginal women have been murdered. “These statistics should raise the alarm for all Canadians,” stated President, Michèle Audette. Much too frequently, somewhere in Canada, families feel the pain and loss of a loved one who has been a victim of violence. This happens way too often for our Aboriginal people, and to the most vulnerable in our society, the women and girls.” On behalf of NWAC, President Audette would like to publicly express heartfelt sympathies to the families who have suffered recent losses under such horrible circumstances:

Goforth, Kelly Nicole: 21 year old woman found on September 25, 2013 in Regina, SK;

Ballantyne, Heather: 40 year old woman found on October 29, 2013 in Pellican Narrows, SK;

Desjarlais, Cassandra Joan: 24 year old woman October 31, 2013 in Regina, SK

McKinney, Miranda: 50-year-old woman found on November 3, 2013, from Swan Lake, MB

Roberts, Jodi: 24 year old woman found on November 27, 2013 near Sucker River, SK;

Boisvert, Tricia: 36 year old woman found on January 23, 2014 near Quyon, QC;

Gabriel, Rocelyn: 20 year old woman found on January 26, 2014 in Portage la Prairie, MB;

Saunders, Loretta, 26 year old found on February 26, 2014 near Salisbury, NB.

Through the five-year Sisters in Spirit initiative (2005 – 2010), NWAC was able to identify 582 missing and/or murdered Aboriginal women and girls in Canada. Continued tracking of occurrences have indicated that the numbers continue to climb; recent reports now list over 800 incidents of missing or murdered Aboriginal women and girls.

On February 14, 2014, NWAC delivered a petition signed by over 23,000 Canadians in support of NWAC’s call for a National Public Inquiry and National Action Plan.

Anyone with information on the above noted cases (or any other case) can leave an anonymous tip to Crime Stoppers by calling toll-free 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).

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For more information please contact:
Claudette Dumont-Smith, Executive Director
Tel: 613-722-3033 or Toll-free 1-800-461-4043
Email: cdumontsmith@nwac.ca, www.nwac.ca

14.02.28 Ongoing Tragedy

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Press Conference – Native Women’s Association of Canada Presents Petitions for a National Public Inquiry into Murdered and Missing Aboriginal Women

MEDIA ADVISORY

WHAT: On February 13, 2014, Michèle Audette, President of the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC), will be on Parliament Hill to call on the Government of Canada to acknowledge and receive more than 23,000 signatures calling for a National Public Inquiry into the matter of missing and murdered Aboriginal women and girls.

WHO: Michèle Audette, President of the Native Women’s Association of Canada; ElderAnnie Smith St Georges; family members, Lorna Martin, Sue Martin and Gail Nepinak; and, Members of Parliament: Dr. Carolyn Bennett and Niki Ashton

WHEN: February 13, 2014 1:00 p.m. (EST)

WHERE: Charles Lynch Press Conference Room, Centre Block 111 Wellington St. Ottawa, ON

WHY: The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) will deliver over 23,000 signatures to the Government of Canada calling for a National Public Inquiry into the matter of missing and murdered Aboriginal women and girls. NWAC has documented, through the five-year Sisters in Spirit Initiative (2005-2010), nearly 600 ‘known’ cases of missing and/or murdered Aboriginal women and girls. The results of their findings have been published to educate and promote action to address this issue. More recent research findings indicate that the number of missing and/or
murdered Aboriginal women in Canada is over 800.

HOW: For additional information, please contact:

Claudette Dumont Smith, Executive Director
1-800-461-4043 or cdumontsmith@nwac.ca

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14.02.13 Media Advisory Petition Press Conference

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Thousands of Canadians Call For a National Public Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women

PRESS RELEASE – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

February 13, 2014 (Ottawa, ON) – The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) delivered over 23,000 signatures today to the House of Commons in support of NWAC’s call for a National Public Inquiry into the more than 600 missing and murdered Aboriginal women and girls. “This is a national tragedy that can no longer be ignored,” said President Michèle Audette. Over the past two years NWAC has collected 23,088 signatures from concerned Canadians demanding an end to the high rate of missing and murdered Aboriginal women and girls. The petition calls for a National Public Inquiry, which NWAC believes to be a crucial step in implementing a comprehensive and coordinated National Action Plan to address the scale and severity of violence faced by Aboriginal women and girls on a daily basis.

February 13, 2014, marks the last day of interviews being heard by the members of the Special Parliamentary Committee into Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women in Canada. The Special Parliamentary Committee was created by a Motion presented by Liberal MP Carolyn Bennett to specifically examine the high rate of murdered and missing Indigenous women and was unanimously passed through the House of Commons. The Committee has heard from multiple stake-holders, however they did not grant intervener status to NWAC, the organization that represents Aboriginal women across Canada as requested.

“How many more signatures do we need or how many more Aboriginal women and girls need to go missing or be murdered before we convince the Government of Canada that a National Public Inquiry is needed to examine this issue and implement solutions to bring an end to this national tragedy. The time for action is now! ” implored NWAC President Michèle Audette.

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For more information on NWAC please contact:

Claudette Dumont Smith, Executive Director
1-800-461-4043 or cdumontsmith@nwac.ca

 

14.02.13 Canadians Call for National Public Inquiry

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Joint Statement on February 13th For A National Public Inquiry Into MMAW

The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) delivered more than 23,000 signatures to the Government of Canada to call for a National Public Inquiry into the missing and murdered Aboriginal women and girls. For years, families and communities have called attention to the high numbers of missing and murdered Aboriginal women and girls in Canada to no avail.

NWAC has documented, through the five-year Sisters in Spirit Initiative (2005-2010), nearly 600 ‘known’ cases of missing and murdered Aboriginal women and girls. NWAC’s research findings have been published and distributed as means to educate and promote dialogue. The tracking of those gone missing and/or murdered continues on, with the number of missing and murdered Aboriginal women and girls increasing to over 800. NWAC is grateful that many other organizations and individuals continue to raise awareness of this serious and ongoing matter. Together, we are working towards a common goal to address this injustice.

Momentum among Canadians continues to build. First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples are rising up and embracing their own forms of expression and their own calls for action. Across Canada and internationally groups are calling for an end to gender-based violence through movements such as the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society Have a Heart Day, 1 Billion Rising, Memorial Marches and the Girls Action Foundation National Day of Action.

A year ago, NWAC launched a petition calling for a National Public Inquiry. Signatures as well as messages of solidarity poured in. More than 23,000 signatures were collected thus far. The petitions will be submitted to the Government of Canada on February 13th, to mark the final day of interviews of the Special Parliamentary Committee into the matter of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women in Canada.

A National Public Inquiry would be a crucial step in implementing a comprehensive and coordinated National Action Plan, which is what NWAC and their many supporters are calling for. “As our community organizations have repeatedly urged, such a response is necessary to address the scale and severity of violence faced by Aboriginal women and girls. Together, we demand action and secure commitments from all levels of government,” stated Michele Audette.

In closing, we express our sincere thanks and gratitude to the families; we thank them for sharing their stories and for their leadership in this movement. You are the reason we continue to demand action. We are honored to walk beside you on this journey!

For more information on NWAC please contact:

Claudette Dumont Smith, Executive Director
1-800-461-4043 or cdumontsmith@nwac.ca

14.02.13 Joint Statement on February 13 for National Public Inquiry

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Native Women’s Association of Canada Disappointed in Yesterday’s Budget Announcement

PRESS RELEASE – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

February 12, 2014 Ottawa, ON – The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) was initially pleased to hear about the announcement regarding new investments into addressing the situation of missing and murdered Aboriginal women in the new federal budget but, “this budget does not go far enough to address violence against Aboriginal women in general and falls far behind our position of calling for a National Public Inquiry and Comprehensive Action Plan,’ stated President Michèle Taïna Audette.

The 2014 federal budget includes a two-year renewal of the Aboriginal Justice Strategy and resources aimed at ending violence, including violence against Indigenous women and girls. Although these will be helpful for community measures, these investments will do nothing to address the targeting of Aboriginal women and girls leading to their disappearances and deaths by non-Aboriginal offenders because they believe their actions will go uninvestigated. “The other investments into DNA and other government justice measures are not specific to Aboriginal women, and without specific goals to reduce violence and murders of our women, it is unlikely to make an impact,” stated Michèle Taïna Audette.

The 2014 federal budget released by Finance Minister Jim Flaherty confirmed new core funding of $1.25 billion from 2016–17 to 2018–19 in support of First Nations education with an annual growth rate of 4.5 %, and included an Enhanced Education Fund that will provide funding of $160 million over 4 years starting in 2015–16 and $500 million over 7 years beginning in 2015–16 for a new First Nations Education Infrastructure Fund. NWAC is pleased that overall education funds are to be increased but is concerned that once again no specific measures or supports are carved out to meet the needs of more than half the Aboriginal population, that is, Aboriginal women, many of whom are single parents.

The Economic Action Plan 2014 proposes to provide $36 million over four years to renew the Computers for Schools Program, providing students and interns with access to information and communications technology equipment and skills training. Yet, only $150,000 was allocated to Status of Women Canada in 2014–15 to increase mentorship among women entrepreneurs. “This is a totally unacceptable,” said President Michèle Taïna Audette.

President Michèle Taïna Audette expressed her hope for the future by saying, “We must remember to create programs specifically for Aboriginal women when we talk about education, economic development, safety and security, so that we can truly begin to improve their lives. Education and economic security, skills and training for women will truly provide Aboriginal women with options and help them to not only participate in the economy but make it thrive. We must work together, leaders and governments, to ensure that these measures will make an impact on the very people they were meant to reach. Unfortunately, this budget will not permit the realization of my dreams and aspirations for Aboriginal women, the most disadvantaged group in Canada.”

The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) is founded on the collective goal to enhance, promote, and foster the social, economic, cultural and political well being of First Nations and Métis women within First Nation, Métis and Canadian societies. As a national organization representing Aboriginal women since 1974, NWAC’s mandate is to achieve equality for all Aboriginal women in Canada.

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For more information on NWAC please contact:

Claudette Dumont Smith, Executive Director
1-800-461-4043 or cdumontsmith@nwac.ca

14.02.12 NWAC Disappointed in Yesterday’s Budget

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