Canada failing Aboriginal women and girls by not living up to legal obligations, says new report

New report reminds Canada of its legal obligation to address the ongoing violence against Aboriginal women and girls in Canada. 

Ottawa (13 Jan. 2015) —The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) has released a groundbreaking report on its investigation into the murders and disappearance of Aboriginal women and girls in British Columbia. IACHR, an arm of the Organization of American States, launched its investigation in 2012 at the request of the Feminist Alliance for International Action (FAFIA) and the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC).

Inter-American Commission on Human Rights report highlights Canada's failings to address violence against Aboriginal women and girls

The report’s key findings state that Canada is legally required to address the violence against Aboriginal women and girls fully and effectively. Under international human rights law, Canada is required to eliminate the discrimination that causes the violence and have an effective response from its institutions such as the police and justice system when Aboriginal women and girls disappear or are murdered.

The report emphasizes that Canada must take effective measures to address risk factors that increase Aboriginal women and girls' vulnerability to violence. These factors include combating the poverty of Aboriginal women and girls, improving education and employment, guaranteeing adequate housing and addressing the over-criminalization of Aboriginal women and girls.

Canada must provide a coordinated, national response to violence, says Commission

Another key finding of the report is that both federal and provincial governments have responsibility for the legal status and condition of Indigenous women and their communities. 

As Claudette Dumon-Smith, Executive Director of NWAC stated in the press release, “This is not only a provincial matter nor should it be a political football tossed back and forth between levels of government. The Inter-American Commission is clear. Canada must provide a coordinated, national response to the violence. This what we have been working for and what we do not yet have.”

Report echoes demands for a nation-wide inquiry into missing and murdered Aboriginal women

The report also strongly supports a nation-wide inquiry into the crisis of missing and murdered Aboriginal women. “Despite this report and others, the Commission says there is much more to understand and to acknowledge if we are to effectively address the crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women in Canada,” stated Holly Johnson, Chair of FAFIA.

The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) and its Advisory Committee on Women’s Issues have been working to raise awareness of the issue of murdered and missing Aboriginal women since 2006. “It is difficult to comprehend why our federal government has consistently refused to take action regarding this tragedy,” states James Clancy, NUPGE National President. “The IACHR report’s findings and recommendations reinforce that the time for action is now.”

More Information

Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women in British Columbia, Canada

Feminist Alliance for International Action (FAFIA)

Native Women’s Association of Canada

National Union Advisory Committee on Women's Issues

NUPGE

The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE

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