Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavut September 18, 2014 - 11:35 am

Harper government releases action plan on violence against Aboriginal women

"These abhorrent acts of violence will not be tolerated"

NUNATSIAQ NEWS
This RCMP chart compares some of the factors behind murdered Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal women in Canada, between 1980 and 2012, based on files from police services across the country. (IMAGE COURTESY OF RCMP)
This RCMP chart compares some of the factors behind murdered Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal women in Canada, between 1980 and 2012, based on files from police services across the country. (IMAGE COURTESY OF RCMP)

The Conservative government has tabled a plan to combat violence against Aboriginal women and girls that commits to paying for support programs to help victims and their families, as well as the creation of a DNA-based missing persons index.

The federal status of women minister, Kellie Leitch, released the government’s Action Plan to Address Family Violence and Violent Crimes Against Aboriginal Women and Girls Sept. 15.

The plan flows from recommendations made by 16 MPs who sat last March on the Special Committee on Violence Against Indigenous Women.

The $25-million action plan — money already identified in the government’s 2014 budget — includes measures to be funded between 2015 and 2020:

• the development of more community safety plans across Canada, including the North and other regions identified as high risk in a recent report by Royal Canadian Mounted Police. That report confirmed that Aboriginal women in Canada suffer much higher rates of violent crime than non-Aboriginals;

• projects to break intergenerational cycles of violence and abuse, as well as initiatives to engage men and boys in efforts to denounce and prevent violence;

• victim services and assistance to victims and families; and,

• actions to share information and resources with communities and organizations, including regular reports on the action plan’s progress. 

In addition to that $25 million, the federal government says it will also commit to:

• funding shelters and family violence prevention activities ($158 million over five years);

• supporting the creation of a DNA-based missing persons index “to help bring closure to families of missing persons ($8.1 million); and,

• and continued support of police investigations through the National Centre for Missing Persons and Unidentified Remains.

“Canada is a country where those who break the law are punished; where penalties match the severity of crimes committed; and where the rights of victims are recognized,” Leitch said in a Sept. 15 release.

“That is why our government is releasing an action plan that brings together a range of measures to address violence against Aboriginal women and girls. These abhorrent acts of violence will not be tolerated.”

But the government’s new action plan fell short of one initiative that a number of Aboriginal groups and opposition parts continue to call on the Conservation government for — a national public inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women.

The Conservative government has repeatedly denied the need for such an inquiry.

During his recent Northern tour, Prime Minister Stephen Harper told a press conference that the issue of missing or murdered Aboriginal women should not be viewed as a sociological phenomenon, but rather as a crime – one that police can deal with.

The RCMP’s report released last May revealed many details about the perpetrators of Aboriginal women homicides. For example, in 89 per cent of cases, they were male; in 44 per cent of cases, they took drugs or alcohol before the incident and in 92 per cent of cases, victims were murdered by a family member or acquaintance.

The report also found that 225 cases of missing and murdered Aboriginal women and girls remain unsolved today.

Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada, and more recently, leaders in the Nunavik region, have made calls for more specific on the issues of violence facing Inuit women across the country.

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