Local support exists for an inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women and girls.
The federal government announced Tuesday that it’s moving ahead with an inquiry into the high number of First Nations women who have been murdered or are missing.
“We are hopeful that this inquiry will help these families and communities to feel heard, to receive answers to their questions, and ultimately give resolution, peace and healing,” said Ninke Beeksma, with the Vernon Women’s Transition House Society.
“Additionally, it is essential to look into the future and put measures in place that will ensure greater safety for all women and children.”
Also supportive of the inquiry is Mel Arnold, Conservative MP for North Okanagan-Shuswap.
“I hope the inquiry brings closure for the families and will prevent future loss and suffering,” he said.
The process will begin with the Liberal government consulting with survivors, family members of victims and national aboriginal and provincial representatives to seek their scope of the inquiry.
Among the issues to be discussed are who will conduct the inquiry, the length of the inquiry and who should be heard.
Once consultation is completed, the government will announce details for the inquiry.
“The government’s strategy to include families, aboriginal organizations and front-line service workers in the inquiry is essential to ensure that this will be an open and transparent process,” said Beeksma.
While indigenous women make up four per cent of Canada’s female population, 16 per cent of all women murdered in Canada between 1980 and 2012 were indigenous women. They are three times more likely to report experiencing violence.
“Missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls represent a heartbreaking national tragedy that must be addressed immediately. Inaction ends today,” said Carolyn Bennett, indigenous affairs minister, in a release.
“This is why we need to hear from all Canadians — especially survivors, families and loved ones, Indigenous organizations, and provinces and territories — to help us identify the best process for this inquiry.”
The former Conservative government opposed calls for an inquiry but now that the party is in official opposition, it agrees with moving ahead with the inquiry.
“This is what the current government has decided to do and I feel for all of the families,” said Arnold, who was elected in October.