THUNDER BAY -- The push for a national public inquiry into missing and murdered Aboriginal women needs to continue, says the executive director of the Ontario Native Women’s Association
Erin Corston on Tuesday said this weekend’s murder of a 15-year-old Aboriginal girl in Winnipeg is a tragedy that has occurred too often over the past 30 years.
“We can talk about it until we’re blue in the face but how many is enough? How many will be enough until somebody finally takes some action and wants to look into it on a deeper level and look into why these things are happening and why Aboriginal women continue to experience violence,” Corston said Tuesday.
“It’s sad. It’s a tragedy.”
She added she has lost all faith in the current federal government taking any action.
Calls for a public inquiry have renewed across the country earlier this week after the murder of 15-year-old Tina Fonatine in Winnipeg. The body of the girl was found in the Red River on Sunday.
This latest case comes months after the country’s national police force uncovered the full scope of the issue.
The RCMP released a report in May, detailing 1,181 cases of missing and murdered Aboriginal women across the country since 1980.
The report also disclosed that 16 per cent of female murder victims and 11 per cent of missing women are Aboriginal, despite making up less than five per cent of the general population.
Ontario Regional Chief Stan Beardy on Tuesday also reiterated his frequent calls for a public inquiry.
“Enough is enough,” Beardy said in a statement. “I am not sure who else besides the Conservative government doesn’t want a national inquiry. First Nation leaders and the Premiers unanimously back this call and the United Nations has called on Canada to support an inquiry.”
Those calls might get another local push next week.
The city’s Crime Prevention Council will be appearing before next Monday’s council meeting, recommending council support a resolution calling for a national inquiry and that the city’s Inter-Governmental Affairs Committee pick it up and further the push.
The resolution contains a provision that letters be sent to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Minister of Justice Peter McKay and Minister of Aboriginal Affairs Bernard Valcourt, as well as local MPs Bruce Hyer and John Rafferty.
Crime Prevention Council chair Tom Walters said the hope is that a collection of municipalities will follow suit and create national pressure.
“(Our hope) is that they start to ask some of those questions so people in our community feel we are concerned and caring about Aboriginal people and the issues that are affecting them,” Walters said.
“The more as a public and concerned citizens we are able to raise issues and bring it to the attention of the government of the day, our hope is they will take this matter seriously.”
Seven or eight communities with crime prevention councils have already taken the action, he added.
Corston supports the resolution and is hopeful Mayor Keith Hobbs and the rest of council will agree and pass it.
“I like it because it is action oriented and it addresses some of the jurisdiction because it will be forwarded to the federal government. I think it’s a good step,” she said.
“We have incidents of violence happening on a daily basis here in Thunder Bay.”