Indigenous women and girls in Canada are disproportionately affected by all forms of violence. Although Indigenous women make up 4 per cent of Canada’s female population, 16 per cent of all women murdered in Canada between 1980 and 2012 were Indigenous.
In 2004, Amnesty International released Stolen Sisters: A Human Rights Response to Violence and Discrimination against Indigenous Women in Canada (PDF only). With funding from the federal government, the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) began the Sisters in Spirit initiative, with the aim of gathering important statistics and raising awareness of this issue. In 2010, the NWAC’s report identified 582 missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls from across Canada. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP)’s 2014 Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women: An Operational Overview identified a total of 1,181 missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. The RCMP’s operational overview also found that while homicide rates for non-Indigenous women in Canada are declining, the homicide rate for Indigenous women has remained unchanged.
Numerous other reports and studies on violence towards Indigenous women in Canada have identified underlying causes, such as socioeconomic factors like poverty and homelessness as well as historic factors like racism, sexism and the legacy from colonialism and the devastation caused by the residential school system. Over 1,700 recommendations for action have been made.
Many Indigenous families, communities and organizations, as well as non-governmental and international organizations, have urged the Government of Canada to take action and call a national inquiry, including the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action (PDF only). Launching a national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls is an important step towards a nation-to-nation relationship and a renewed sense of trust between the Government of Canada and Indigenous peoples in Canada.
The Government of Canada is strongly committed to an inclusive and respectful engagement process that will balance a diversity of viewpoints to design an inquiry that will respond to the needs and expectations of the survivors, family members and loved ones.
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