Tag Archives: NWAC

Inquiry Into Missing and Murdered Women a Failure: Indigenous Group

People march during the 26th Annual Women’s Memorial March in Vancouver in February, 2016.
(Rafal Gerszak For The Globe and Mail)

The Globe and Mail | May 16, 2017

The organization that was the loudest voice in calling for a public investigation of why so many Indigenous women have been murdered or gone missing in Canada says the inquiry launched to determine the societal causes of the tragedy has, so far, been a dismal failure.

The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) will issue its second report card on the national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women on Tuesday, a copy of which was obtained in advance by The Globe and Mail. The discouraging appraisal follows repeated complaints by advocates, family members and others that the process announced in late 2015 is falling far behind its intended pace and that communications to those who are most anxious for its findings have been insufficient or non-existent.

“This many months into the inquiry, we cannot afford to be nice any more,” said Francyne Joe, NWAC’s interim president. “Families are upset, they’re getting discouraged and we need to see action on the part of the commissioners to ensure that this inquiry is going to be family-first and is going to be respectful to the missing and murdered women.”

On Monday, families of victims, Indigenous leaders and advocates for those who have lost loved ones wrote an open letter to chief commissioner Marion Buller saying they fear the $53.8-million inquiry is in “serious trouble” for many reasons but, primarily “a lack of communication that is causing frustration, confusion and disappointment in this long-awaited process.”

The commission did not respond to that letter by deadline on Monday. But the report from NWAC echoes its complaints.

On 10 out of 15 measures – from structure to communications to transparency to respect for the families of victims – the inquiry was given failing marks. In three areas it received cautions. In two others, NWAC said there was not enough information to make an assessment. It was given no passing grades.

The report says, among other things, that the inquiry has failed to announce its timelines or issue regular progress reports and has left families and the media in the dark. The commissioners, it says, have created a sense of “desperation and urgency” by not making themselves available and not communicating regularly, and the money spent to date has not been best used to allow families to engage in the process.

NWAC charges that the inquiry is not being set up to take into account the trauma suffered by victims’ loved ones, and that it has failed in its mandates to promote reconciliation, contribute to public awareness and to allow families and community members to share their experiences and views.

Communication has been the biggest failure, Ms. Joe said. The media, not the commission, she said, informed NWAC last week that the lone opportunity for families to testify this spring will be at the end of May, and the remainder of family testimony, which had been expected to continue throughout the summer, would not be scheduled until fall.

“My biggest fear at this point is that this is not going to be a family-first inquiry, that families are going to come third,” Ms. Joe said. “There’s a lot of discussions around the technical side of things, there’s a lot of discussions around the legal side of things. But there’s not enough discussions as to how families are going to be part of this. And they have been the ones fighting for this inquiry for decades.”

A spokeswoman for Indigenous Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett said on Monday that, despite the concerns being raised, the minister believes enough time and resources have been made available for the inquiry to do its work.

A 2014 report by the RCMP said the force had identified nearly 1,200 Indigenous women and girls who disappeared or were slain in recent decades, and some critics suggest the Mounties’ list is far from complete. Families and advocates want to know why Indigenous women and girls are victims of violence far more often than other women in Canada.

The letter from families and others, which was posted on Monday to the website of Indigenous artist Christi Belcourt – a long-time advocate for the environment and Indigenous people – says people across the country are loudly raising alarms.

The letter’s signatories, which include more than 50 people and organizations, say it is clear that the approach of the inquiry must be “fundamentally shifted” and asks the chief commissioner to respond by May 22.

Ms. Belcourt said in a telephone interview that the letter came together in about a week and it was easy to obtain signatures. In fact, she said, more families and Indigenous leaders stepped forward in support of it on Monday after it was made public.

People wanted to give the inquiry time to work, Ms. Belcourt said, “but it’s simply got to the point where it’s become very obvious that it’s unravelling, and that it’s not functioning all.”


Missing And Murdered Indigenous Women: From 1200 To 4000?

Murdered and missing native women were remembered in the 7th annual memorial march to raise awareness of the hundreds, possibly thousands, of women and girls. This even in Montreal, Sunday, February 14, 2016, was one of several similar demonstrations across Canada. Photo Credit: CP / Graham Hughes

Murdered and missing native women were remembered in the 7th annual memorial march to raise awareness of the hundreds, possibly thousands, of women and girls. This even in Montreal, Sunday, February 14, 2016, was one of several similar demonstrations across Canada. Photo Credit: CP / Graham Hughes

By Carmel Kilkenny | english@rcinet.caFeb, 16, 2016 

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.



RCMP: Indigenous Perpetrators Responsible For 70 Percent Of Solved Indigenous Women Murders


By Jorge Barrera | APTN National News

Top Mountie breaks with policy, says Indigenous perpetrators responsible for 70 per cent of solved Indigenous women murders

RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson says Indigenous perpetrators are responsible for 70 per cent of the solved murders of Indigenous women, according to a letter distributed to various media outlets by Status of Women Minister Kellie Leitch’s office.

The letter represents a substantial shift from the RCMP which has previously stated, because of its “bias-free policing policy,” it would not be revealing data on the ethnicity of perpetrators from its project on murdered and missing Indigenous women.

The move reduces the political heat faced by Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt who first mentioned the statistic during a closed-door meeting with chiefs late last month and immediately faced controversy.

In the April 7-dated letter to Treaty 6 Grand Chief Bernice Martial, Paulson wrote that “consolidated data” from about 300 police agencies reviewed by the RCMP supported the 70 per cent statistic. It also showed that, in the cases of solved murders of Indigenous women, 25 per cent of the perpetrators were non-Indigenous and five per cent were of unknown ethnicity.

“It is not the ethnicity of the offender that is relevant, but rather the relationship between victim and offender that guides our focus with respect to prevention,” wrote Paulson.

Paulson said the RCMP believes releasing information around ethnicity could do more harm than good.

“Public discourse on the ethnicity of the offender has the potential to stigmatize and marginalize vulnerable populations,” said the letter. “Female homicide across all ethnicities is inextricably linked to familial and spousal violence; it is for this reason that RCMP analysis and prevention efforts have focused on the relationship between the victim and offenders.”

Paulson’s letter does not provide any information on regional breakdowns of solved murders of Indigenous women or whether they primarily happen on or off-reserve.


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The letter is in response to an earlier letter from Martial who wrote Paulson requesting the RCMP reveal the data used by Valcourt during a closed-door meeting in Calgary at the end of March. During the meeting, Valcourt mentioned the 70 per cent statistic, which surprised some of the chiefs at the meeting. Martial immediately demanded the minister reveal where the number came from.

“As you note, the Honourable Bernard Valcourt, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, has stated that 70 per cent of the offenders in these cases are Aboriginal,” wrote Paulson.

Martial said she received the letter in an email Thursday morning but hadn’t yet read it because she has been on the road. When APTN read her the section on the 70 per cent statistic, she expressed shock.

“Oh my gosh, how can this be right? They just want to make it right,” she said. “I will just read it through myself and go from there.”

After the RCMP refused to initially publicly back the minister on the statistic, Valcourt faced calls for his resignation from chiefs and repeated attacks in the House of Commons from the NDP on the issue. The minister never repeated the statistic in any of his responses during question period.

The RCMP announced last week it would be releasing a second report in May on murdered and missing Indigenous women. The federal police force released a report last spring that found there were 1,181 cases of murdered and missing Indigenous women dating back to 1980. The RCMP gathered information from about 300 police agencies and Statistics Canada.

Paulson said in the letter that the federal force could not release all the data it has collected as part of its project. Paulson said the RCMP is “not the sole proprietor of this information” because at some of it comes from outside police forces.

The RCMP also signed a confidentially agreement with Statistics Canada that prevents the federal police force from releasing “sensitive statistical information.”

Under the agreement, the RCMP agreed to only use the information for research purposes accessible only by RCMP employees.

Leitch’s office also issued a statement in conjunction with the letter.

“We all have a role to play in protecting Aboriginal women and girls. Our government has taken strong action to address the broader challenges facing Aboriginal women and girls,” said the statement. “Since 2006 we have been proud to introduce over 30 new justice and public safety measures to keep Canadian families safe.”

NDP Aboriginal affairs critic Niki Ashton said the Harper government continues to blame First Nation people for the violence faced by Indigenous women.

“Instead of taking a hard look at how they have marginalized Indigenous women and their communities,” said Ashton. “The release of figures without the data to back it up is always problematic.”

The RCMP could not be reached for comment.

The Assembly of First Nations was carbon copied on the letter, along with the Native Women’s Association of Canada, Alberta Premier Jim Prentice and Valcourt’s office.