Roundtable on missing and murdered women "a first step"
Last updated 3/31/2015 at 8:06pm
OTTAWA, ON—A national roundtable discussion on missing and murdered Aboriginal women was held in Canada’s capital city on February 27. It was attended by three representatives of those who have relatives who were killed or are missing. Also in attendance were the premiers of Ontario, Manitoba, and the Northwest Territories along with Canada’s Status of Women Minister Minister Kellie Keitch and Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt. Prime Minister Stephen Harper was invited but was not there.
Hosted by the Assembly of First Nations new Grand Chief, Perry Bellegarde, the idea for this roundtable resulted from discussions at the premiers’ conference last summer. The Native Women’s Association of Canada had suggested it as another way to get around having an inquiry as so far the federal government has refused to consider an inquiry.
According to Justice Murray Sinclair, the Commissioner of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, it would be risky to hold a national inquiry into missing and murdered women before answering certain questions. Justice Sinclair feels that “expectations [for an inquiry] would be so high it would be impossible to meet them, and that would lead to further injustice for the victims and their families.” “Inquires are not the be-all for everything,” the commissioner told the Winnipeg Free Press. “They will not solve everything.” Sinclair believes that the price to conduct an inquiry would be expensive and the government would take the money from other programs in order to fund it.
Almost 20 years ago, the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples cost Canada $60 million. “I can see this being a significant cost,” the justice told the Free Press.
The new National Chief of the AFN Perry Bellegarde says even though this wasn’t an inquiry, he still is quite hopeful for what many believe this meeting is the first of many. Manitoba’s Premier called this roundtable “a good first step.” They agreed to hold another roundtable before the end of 2016.