THUNDER BAY -- It’s about time the country’s national police acknowledged the scope of missing and murdered Aboriginal women, says the president of the Ontario Native Women’s Association.
Earlier this week, RCMP commissioner Bob Paulsen confirmed that there are at least 1,186 cases of missing and murdered Aboriginal women in Canada over the past 30 years.
Ontario Native Women’s Association president Dr. Dawn Harvard says the confirmation just reaffirms the severity of the issue and underlines that there is a significant problem.
“It’s certainly about time. We had been working at the community level for a very long time to make people in these positions aware of the situation,” Harvard said when reached by telephone on Friday.
“I can only hope that having the RCMP’s acknowledgement of the situation will give some authority, legitimacy and credibility that as ONWA we’ve been saying for years, that there isn’t the kind of attention these women deserve.”
Despite the statement from Paulsen, federal Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney refuted renewed calls for a national inquiry.
The continued denials for an inquiry despite mounting evidence is generating frustration and anger. Harvard said the issue is spreading beyond just an Aboriginal tragedy, but is one of national significance and is catching the attention of the entire population.
Reports in various media outlets suggested that nearly 1,000 of those have been identified as murder cases.
The continually rising number is proof to families that their loved ones were victims in cases that had been written off or dismissed.
“We knew that was just the tip of the iceberg. So many went unreported, so many were written off as suicides, so many were written of as accidents when we knew that wasn’t the story,” she said.
“We knew so many of our women were not being accounted for and their families not taken seriously. This is finally shedding light on circumstances that we in the community had known all along.”