MEGA-NEWS: RCMP report on missing and murdered Aboriginal women ignores calls for national inquiry

A report on missing and murdered Aboriginal women released by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police exceeded the force’s expectations of how many indigenous women were murdered or disappeared in Canada between 1980 and 2012.

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“Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women: An Operational Overview” found 1,181 cases of missing and murdered Aboriginal women. Of that number 1,017 were murdered and 164 went missing, representing 16 per cent of all female homicides and 11.3 per cent of all female missing persons cases, despite indigenous people comprising just four per cent of Canada’s population.

But the RCMP noted little disparity in solved homicide case rates: 88 per cent of aboriginal versus 89 per cent of non-aboriginal female cases.

The report outlines next steps for the national police force, including increasing public awareness of the issue, more effort on unsolved cases, strengthening data on missing and murdered women’s cases, and working with government on crime reduction and prevention strategies.

But it does not recommend a national inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women, which has been called for by the Native Women’s Association of Canada, the Assembly of First Nations, premiers of all Canadian provinces and territories, and the United Nations, to name a few.

“This is another report with empty promises, more lip service,” said Carol Martin, victims’ services coordinator at the Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre. “They take their own interpretation of what they think they hear, and put it into their own actions,” referring to the recommended actions.

Instead Martin wants not only a national inquiry, but also federal legislation specifically protecting indigenous women. She says Canada’s history of racism and sexism against indigenous women, including marriage laws that removed women’s status if they married non-indigenous people, can’t be ignored.

But one line from the RCMP’s press conference spoke volumes to Martin, and she promises to keep reminding them: “We never lose sight of the fact that each and every statistic, each and every number is an indigenous woman, an indigenous girl, that is somebody’s mother, daughter, sister, or loved one.”

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