For Immediate Release
November 27, 2008
Coast Salish Territory (Vancouver, BC) – The BC First Nations Leadership Council supports the recommendation of the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, urging the Government of Canada to hold a detailed public inquiry into the 511 missing or murdered Aboriginal women in the country and to resolve problems with the law enforcement system.
“Unfortunately, BC First Nations are all too familiar with the cases of missing or murdered women from our communities, including in the Pickton case. All we have to do is look at the cases in the downtown eastside or the Highway of Tears (Highway 16). It is unacceptable that Canada continues to ignore the need for an inquiry into these 511 cases”, said Grand Chief Edward John or the First Nations Summit Political Executive.
“We must learn from and act upon the senseless murders and disappearances of our loved ones. We cannot continue to allow these tragedies to fall by the wayside; we must continue to fully advocate for the victims and their families by calling on Canada and the RCMP to conduct an immediate public inquiry and expand investigations in order to prevent further senseless and tragic deaths”, added Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs.
Both the BC First Nations Leadership Council and the National Assembly of First Nations have Public Safety Cooperation Protocols with the RCMP. The Protocols are an indication of First Nations’ desire to work with law enforcement agencies to develop their relationships through mutual respect and trust and to outline strategies to address community safety issues.
“In the spirit of the Protocol First Nations have signed with the RCMP, the First Nations Leadership Council is urging Canada and the RCMP to examine options to strengthen their response to these unsolved cases, thus preventing similar tragedies and providing answers and peace of mind to the grieving families” concluded Regional Chief Shawn Atleo of the BC Assembly of First Nations.
In a recent report of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, the committee indicated Canada must explain why law enforcement agencies have failed to deal with the disappearance and murder of Aboriginal women across Canada and urged Canada to conduct an inquiry into the outstanding cases of 511 missing or murdered Aboriginal women and to resolve problems with the law enforcement system.
The UN Committee has indicated that Canada has one year to report on how it will boost social assistance rates and address the lack of progress on the files of missing and murdered women. A copy of the CEDAW Committee's Concluding Observations on Canada is available at: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/cedaw/docs/co/CEDAW-C-CAN-CO-7.pdf
The First Nations Leadership Council is comprised of the political executives of the BC Assembly of First Nations, First Nations Summit, and the Union of BC Indian Chiefs.
The Council works together to politically represent the interests of First Nations in British Columbia and develop strategies and actions to bring about significant and substantive changes to government policy that will benefit all First Nations in British Columbia.
For more information please contact:
Grand Chief Edward John 778-772-8218
First Nations Summit Political Executive
Grand Chief Stewart Phillip
President, UBCIC: 250-490-5314
BC Assembly of First Nations: 604-922-7733
UBCIC is a NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.