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Chiefs of Ontario launch 'Who Is She' campaign to end violence against Indigenous women

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The Council of Canadians has repeatedly called on the Harper government to support a national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women. Indigenous women make up 4.3 per cent of the Canadian population, but they account for 16 per cent of murdered women and 11.3 per cent of missing women in Canada. Over the past 30 years, 1,026 Indigenous women have been murdered and 160 are missing.

As noted on their website, "On Wednesday, September 9, Chiefs of Ontario launched our Who Is She campaign -- a fundraising effort aimed at creating a First Nations-led, community-driven process to eradicate violence against Indigenous women and girls." Beyond calling for a federal inquiry (now supported by all federal political parties except the Conservatives), the Chiefs of Ontario want a First Nations-led process as well.

Their rationale is, "Every Indigenous woman and girl should feel safe every time of every day in every place in Canada. Our families can’t wait for Ottawa to stop Indigenous women and girls from disappearing. We are planning our own process to bring safety to our peoples. ...We are looking to achieve truth and tangible solutions through a First Nations driven process to end violence in our communities."

The Council of Canadians believes an inquiry is needed to understand the root causes of this situation and to develop a national action plan. In October 2012, we added our support to the Sisters In Spirit Vigils -- A Movement for Social Change joint statement that highlights, "An inquiry would be a crucial step in implementing a comprehensive and coordinated national action plan."

On Sunday October 4, just two weeks before the federal election, we will be on Parliament Hill to join with the Families of Sisters in Spirit for a 10th anniversary Honouring our Sisters in Spirit gathering.

Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde says a national inquiry would help expose the colonial roots of violence against Indigenous women in Canada. CBC has reported, "Bellegarde said the lingering impacts of the 'cultural genocide' of the residential school system and the imposition of the Indian Act on First Nations communities continue to 'really hurt indigenous peoples in Canada.'" About 150,000 Indigenous children in this country were forced to attend residential schools.

As referenced above, the federal New Democrats, Liberals and Greens agree that an inquiry is needed. The provincial premiers agree that a national inquiry is needed too. The United Nations special rapporteur on the rights of Indigenous people and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights have also called for a national inquiry. It's only the Harper government that refuses to convene this inquiry.

For a Council of Canadians fact sheet on this issue, please click here.

Further reading

Hamilton chapter holds public forum on murdered and missing Indigenous women (June 2015 blog)
WIN! Regina city council calls for inquiry into murdered and missing Indigenous women (February 2015 blog)
St. John's chapter calls for inquiry into murdered and missing Indigenous women (February 2015 blog)
Peterborough-Kawarthas chapter and Indigenous allies call for MMIW inquiry (February 2015 blog)
Chapters respond to call for an inquiry on MMIW (February 2015 blog)
Barlow supports the We Care #MMIW campaign (December 2014 blog)
Council of Canadians supports call for inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women (March 2014 blog)
Barlow stands in solidarity with blockade of CN Rail demanding national inquiry (March 2014 blog)

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