Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Missing, Murdered Aboriginal Women Not Just a Police Issue: Police Chiefs

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Missing, Murdered Aboriginal Women Not Just a Police Issue: Police Chiefs

Article excerpt

Police chiefs want action on missing, murdered aboriginal women

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VICTORIA - The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police are not endorsing a public inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women, saying such an exercise would only delay action.

Instead, the nation's top cops called on all levels of government Tuesday to take immediate action to address the underlying issues that lead aboriginal women to be vulnerable to crime and violence.

"Yes, a national inquiry may shed some light on this, but as Canadian chiefs, we don't want to delay action," Saskatoon Police Chief Clive Weighill, the newly elected president of the organization, said at the group's annual meeting in Victoria.

"We know what the problems are. The aboriginal population in Canada knows and I think most Canadians know what the issues are. Let's get on with it."

Aboriginal groups have repeatedly called for a public inquiry for at least a couple of years.

But the death of 15-year-old Tina Fontaine, whose body was found Aug. 17 wrapped in a bag and dumped in the Red River in Winnipeg, has become a rallying point.

The teen had run away from foster care, and Weighill said aboriginal girls make up a majority of the females in foster care and group homes.

He said there have already been many studies pointing to the underlying issues of poverty, poor-housing, racism, social challenges and marginalization.

Weighill said the statistics are startling. Studies in his city show aboriginal women are five to six times more likely to be victimized than non-aboriginal women, and aboriginal people account for more than 80 per cent of the population of Canada's prisons.

"The drivers for this are not a police issue," he said. "A lot of times it's a health issue, it's a housing issue, it's a poverty issue. They're issues affecting people that are disadvantaged -- that's what's driving some of the vulnerability for some of our First Nations women."

Earlier this year, RCMP released a report that found 1,181 cases of murdered or missing aboriginal women between 1980 and 2012.

The report said women make up 4.3 per cent of the Canadian population, but account for 16 per cent of female homicides and 11. …

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