Aboriginal people across Canada are in an uproar over the federal government’s recent decision to dismiss recommendations from the United Nations to develop a comprehensive national review to end violence against Aboriginal women.
The recommendations were suggested after the UN conducted its periodic review of Canada’s human rights record, which happens every four years. The review also investigates issues such as poverty, immigration, prostitution and the criminal justice system.
According to the Native Woman’s Association of Canada (NWAC), there are currently 582 documented cases of the missing and murdered, with nearly half of those cases remaining unsolved.
Canada’s Ambassador to the UN in Geneva, Elissa Goldberg, who gave the decision on behalf of the government, said that although Canada takes the issue seriously, provincial and municipal governments would be better suited in getting results on the issue.
“It’s shocking that Canada refuses to act to end violence against Indigenous women,” said NDP Status of Women critic Niki Ashton. “It is time for the Conservatives to tackle systemic issues facing Indigenous peoples and establish a nation-to-nation relationship.”
Letters have been written to Prime Minister Stephen Harper by NWAC, Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Shawn Atleo and Amnesty International in an effort to change the government’s policy.
“There is strong support for this action domestically among provincial and territorial leaders and the Canadian public and strong international support, not to mention a multitude of reports and investigations that urge Canada to act,” Atleo said.
Yet the Conservatives continue to defend their position, claiming that they have already done enough on the issue.
“Violence against Aboriginal women is a crisis in Canada,” said NDP Aboriginal Affairs critic Jean Crowder. “Until the Conservatives accept their responsibilities outlined by the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, we cannot move forward in a positive and meaningful way.”