Hon. Lillian Eva Dyck:
Honourable senators, yesterday was the International Day for
the Elimination of Violence Against Women.
In the summer, I attended a conference
designed to raise public awareness about violence against
women and to bring attention to the alarming rise in the
number of missing indigenous women.
On August 14, the first annual Missing
Women: Decolonization, Third Wave Feminisms and Indigenous
People of Canada and Mexico conference took place in Regina,
Honourable senators, I wish to share
the thoughts of my summer student, Aline Fontaine, who also
attended this conference.
I ask: 'In Canada, what can we do to
address the systemic violence, poverty, racism and sexism
towards Aboriginal women?'
As a conference participant, I had the
opportunity to witness the realities of street life in north
central Regina. I was horrified by the sight of under-age
Aboriginal girls on the street, prostituting themselves.
I ask: 'Is this real? Or am I simply
In Canada, the reality of sexual
exploitation and unsolved cases of missing and murdered
Aboriginal women is a hidden issue. When it is talked about,
people don't want to hear about it. Many don't even want to
think about it. Disturbing as it is, we must confront it. We
must look at how street life perpetuates the cycle of
violence, prostitution and abductions of First Nations
women. We cannot afford to walk away; we must uncover the
hidden issues First Nations face on a day-to-day basis.
I ask: 'How?'
There must be systemic and social
changes made in Aboriginal communities. First Nations must
raise awareness and understanding in an effort to change
individual views, perceptions and practices. Most
importantly, we as Aboriginal people must address ourselves
to making the necessary fundamental changes, but we can't do
it alone. We need support from governments, from the private
sector and from Canadians because this situation is simply
I ask: 'When?'
The time is now and we must take
action. I urge Canada's leaders to work with First Nations
in developing strategies to create change. Together in
solidarity, we can fix this terrible wrong and develop
solutions that enable First Nations to overcome poverty and
its consequences. It's time for First Nations, Canadians and
Government leaders to stand up and say: 'No More.'
Honourable senators, as an Aboriginal
woman old enough to be the grandmother of these prostituted
children, I ask you to support the recommendation made by
the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination
Against Women to establish an inquiry into the 511
Aboriginal women and girls who have disappeared or been