Missing and murdered aboriginal women were a neglected group in Canada for many years. Now preparations are underway for a national inquiry. One of the latest revelations is, that the total number of victims may be more in the range of 4000 women and girls, not the 1200 often quoted.
Indigenous and Northern Affairs MInister, Carolyn Bennett, spoke to reporters in Ottawa today, after completing a consultation process with First Nations communities. Along with the Status of Women Minister, Patty Hajdu, they travelled the country meeting with the families of many of the missing and murdered women.
Carolyn Bennett said they’ve heard from 1300 people on what a national inquiry should entail and what it should achieve. She said that many of the families felt ignored by police concerning their missing or murdered loved ones.
The Native Women’s Association of Canada challenged the figure of only 1200 native women that was provided by the RCMP. According to the national police force, between 1980 and 2012, they had records of 1,017 indigenous women killed, and 164 missing.
But according to the NWAC, the tragedies began before 1980 and there are many disputed cases that were ruled suicides or accidents where family and friends disagree. But with the rulings there was no need to investigate further.
Carloyn Bennett did not confirm any numbers but said, “We need to fix the system” identifying “the uneven application of justice” as one of the reasons for the inquiry.
The framework and the mandate must now be clarified, and it is hoped the inquiry will begin its work during the summer.