'I urge you to not desert the families of the 582 missing and murdered Aboriginal women!' - James Clancy.
Ottawa (10 Nov. 2010) – The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) has written to Prime Minister Stephen Harper urging him to reconsider his government’s recent decision to disallow government funding to the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) for projects using the name Sisters in Spirit or to upkeep its database of nearly 600 cases of missing and murdered Aboriginal women in Canada.
Recently, during discussions regarding a new NWAC project, Status of Women Canada officials asked that funding proposals not include the name Sisters in Spirit or any plans to use the money for the database.
Sisters in Spirit (SIS) is an initiative launched by the NWAC to address the issue of the hundreds of Aboriginal women and girls who have either disappeared or have been found murdered in Canada over the past few decades. The SIS initiative has worked to identify root causes, trends and circumstances of violence that have led to these disappearances and deaths.
In March 2010, NWAC released a report entitled What Their Stories Tell Us which provides evidence that 582 Aboriginal women and girls have gone missing or have been murdered in Canada.
In his letter to the Prime Minister, NUPGE’s national president James Clancy stated, “The alarming rates of violence against Aboriginal women and girls in Canada are of great concern to NUPGE. According to the 2004 General Social Survey, Aboriginal women 15 years and older are three and a half times more likely to experience violence than non-Aboriginal women.
“These statistics are of concern to the international community as well," Clancy writes. "In 2008, the United Nations Committee on the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women urged your government to investigate the cases of missing or murdered Aboriginal women and to take the necessary steps to remedy the deficiencies.”
Clancy notes that the Sisters in Spirit database is a tool that can aid the government on this issue. He stresses that the database provides the vital ability to analyze and identify the issues as well as possible solutions.
“In conclusion, it would seem punitive to make funding for NWAC’s continuing work on this critical issue contingent on the removal of the name and the abandoning of their database which has made huge strides in bringing to light this national tragedy," Clancy argues.
“On behalf of the National Union’s 340,000 members, many of whom are of Aboriginal descent, I urge you to not desert the families of the 582 missing and murdered Aboriginal women!”
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
• Letter from James Clancy to Stephen Harper on NWAC funding