First Nations: $53.86 Million Allocated to Missing Women and Girls Inquiry.
The 2016 Women’s Day theme is: Pledge for Parity. Ironically, 2016 is also the year that pleas for an inquiry and intervention into the ongoing murder and disappearances of Canadian Indigenous Women, has finally been heeded.
The devastating trend has claimed the lives of an estimated 1200 victims over the past 30 years, and is being rightfully called a national tragedy by many. The statistics speak volumes: 4% of indigenous women make up the female population of Canada, but they also represent a shocking 16% of women murdered in Canada!
At the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) in December 2015, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed his government’s commitment to forging new relationships with the aboriginal population, based on co-operation and respectful partnerships. Hot on the heels of promises that Trudeau’s government would address critical issues facing many indigenous communities, like infrastructure, education, funding and water, there is renewed hope that alleviation of these challenges will reduce the exposure of many indigenous women, to crime, violence and sometimes, death.
AFN National Chief, Perry Bellegarde, welcomed Trudeau’s commitment in December. However, this week’s announcement on August 3rd of the 5 panel members who will head up the inquiry, was met with caution in some quarters, where there are fears that the panel’s mandate is too vague. Time will tell. The Inquiry is set to convene on September 1st,,2016 and will conclude on December 31st, 2018.
An additional $16.7 Million has been allocated for the establishment of special units across provinces and territories, for support of victims and their families. These units will be introduced over the next four years.
What is the value of the life of one woman or female child? The truth is that a human life is invaluable, irrespective of gender, race or ethnicity, and the loss of even one life should be avoided at all costs. This inquiry has the potential to not only save lives in the future, but also to bring long-overdue healing and closure to the families of women and girls whose lives were cruelly stolen from them.