Hon. Lillian Eva Dyck:
Honourable senators, Amnesty International and the Native Women's Association of Canada have issued a news release calling on all Canadians to help make ending violence against Aboriginal women and girls a priority for all politicians. Their organizations will be working with women's organizations and other allies across Canada to ensure that all political parties make tangible commitments to end violence against indigenous women and girls in the upcoming election.
Recently released RCMP statistics report the murder of 1,017 Aboriginal women and girls between 1980 and 2012, with more than 100 others remaining missing under suspicious circumstances or for unknown reasons.
NWAC President Michèle Audette stated:
Each woman was somebody. She was also somebody's sister, daughter, mother, or friend and every one of them deserved to be safe from violence. They deserve more from our Government than excuses and a patchwork of underfunded and inadequate programs and services. We need solutions and actions that will make a difference in women's lives.
Alex Neve, Secretary-General of Amnesty International Canada, said:
Instead of committing to the kind of comprehensive, concerted response that is so urgently needed, successive governments have rolled out the same piecemeal approach that has failed to provide Aboriginal women and girls the protection they need. Momentum for meaningful action is building across Canadians but we need more Canadians to speak out.
Honourable senators, 10 years ago this month, Amnesty International published its major research report, Stolen Sisters: Discrimination and Violence Against Indigenous Women In Canada. The report followed a nationwide campaign by NWAC to focus attention on the severe threats facing Aboriginal women and girls. At the time, all parties in the House of Commons publicly acknowledged the need for action. A full decade later, however, government response continues to fall short.
On October 4, vigils will be held in communities across Canada and around the globe to honour the lives of Aboriginal women and girls lost to violence. Each year, the number of vigils is growing as public awareness of the federal government's indifference continues. Calls for an independent national public inquiry continue to be ignored. Last year, there were over 200 Sisters in Spirit vigils across Canada. This
year, I expect there will be even more, especially given the recent tragic death of Tina Fontaine, a 15-year-old girl from Sagkeeng First Nation in Manitoba, which has renewed calls for a national inquiry.
I know honourable senators may not agree with me on the need for a national inquiry, but I will continue to try to persuade them otherwise. I do, however, ask that all senators in this chamber do one thing: When you return home this weekend, please attend your local Sisters in Spirit vigil. Information can be found on the NWAC website. Please light a candle and honour those missing and murdered Aboriginal women, their families and their friends.