PRESS RELEASE: Half A Million People Call For Government To End #MMIWG

June 20, 2016 —Today on Parliament Hill, the Native Women’s Association of Canada, Am I Next campaign, Amnesty International Canada, and the Canadian Federation of Students sent a powerful message to the government of Canada: half a million petition signatures supporting a strong and effective national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls and two-spirit people.

“For nearly 20 years the Native Women’s Association of Canada has been demanding answers and calling for accountability as our sisters continue to be stolen simply because they are Indigenous,” said Dawn Harvard, President of the Native Women’s Association of Canada. “Now is the time for change, so that my daughters can grow up in safety.”

Minister Carolyn Bennett and Minister Patty Hajdu receive petitions calling for National Inquiry into MMIWG from NWAC, Amnesty International Canada, Am I Next campaign, and Canadian Federation of Students.
Minister Carolyn Bennett and Minister Patty Hajdu receive petitions calling for National Inquiry into MMIWG from NWAC, Amnesty International Canada, Am I Next campaign, and Canadian Federation of Students.

 

Official petition hand-over from NWAC, Amnesty Canada, Am I Next campaign, and Canadian Federation of Students, to two Ministers who were present on behalf of the federal government.
Official petition hand-over from NWAC, Amnesty Canada, Am I Next campaign, and Canadian Federation of Students, to two Ministers who were present on behalf of the federal government.

The petition signatures were delivered to Dr. Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs, and Patty Hajdu, Minister for the Status of Women.

“We, the family members of the missing and murdered, didn’t set out to become activists. We were forced into it by circumstance,” said Holly Jarrett, founder of the Am I Next campaign, whose change.org petition was signed by over 350,000 people (www.change.org/AmINext). “As the inquiry begins, it’s crucial that Indigenous women, girls and families like mine are full participants and that grassroots voices are recognized so that we can break the cycles of violence.”

“The rights of Indigenous women, girls and two-spirit people to live free from violence and discrimination have been violated time and time again,” said Alex Neve, Secretary General, Amnesty International Canada (English). “The national inquiry must address the root causes of this violence—including systemic racism and misogyny—and lead to concrete actions to end these human rights violations.”

“The inquiry process is going to be difficult and our solidarity with Indigenous women, families and communities is going to be needed now more than ever,” said Béatrice Vaugrante, Director-General, Amnistie international Canada Francophone. “But it must conclude with solutions identified by those impacted by the violence. Anything less will be a step away from, not towards, reconciliation.”

“The student movement across Canada stands in solidarity with Indigenous communities as we prepare for the national inquiry to launch,” said Bilan Arte, National Chairperson, Canadian Federation of Students. “Indigenous women are more than three times as likely as non-Indigenous women in Canada to experience violence, and are more than 6 times more likely to be murdered. And this must stop.”

Background

In the face of staggeringly high rates of violence against Indigenous women, girls, and two-spirit people, activists spent nearly two decades calling for a national inquiry into this human rights crisis. It started with grassroots Indigenous women’s rights activists, and grew to include human rights organizations and social movements, and a growing base of individual supporters.

In December 2015, the federal government announced it would launch a National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. The signatures delivered to the federal government today come from people who support the national inquiry, and who will be watching it unfold with great hopes and expectations.

To meet the needs of those impacted by this violence, the inquiry must focus on the extreme violence faced by Indigenous women, girls and two-spirit people and the systematic factors contributing to that violence. It must provide families with the answers they have been long seeking. It must be truly national in scope and include all levels of government and law enforcement. And it must conclude with a clear and comprehensive plan of action. We challenge Canada to seize this historic opportunity and make the inquiry a bold and courageous step towards reconciliation with Canada’s First Nations, Métis, and Inuit peoples.

 

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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CONTACT:

Dan Peters
Acting Executive Director
1 Nicholas Street, 9th Floor
Ottawa, ON K1N 7B7
Toll free 1-800-461-4043
Tel.: 613-722-3033 x. 249
Email: dpeters@nwac.ca

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