Premiers Back National Inquiry On Missing Aboriginal Women

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Canada's premiers are backing a call by aboriginal leaders to launch a national public inquiry into the case of missing or murdered aboriginal women, CBC News has learned. (CP)
Canada's premiers are backing a call by aboriginal leaders to launch a national public inquiry into the case of missing or murdered aboriginal women, CBC News has learned. (CP)

Canada's premiers are backing a call by aboriginal leaders to launch a national public inquiry into the case of missing or murdered aboriginal women, CBC News has learned.

A delegation of First Nations, Inuit and Métis leaders met with Canada's premiers this afternoon ahead of a two-day summit of the Council of the Federation in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont. that begins Thursday.

"The premiers at the table agreed to support the call of the Native Women's Association of Canada for a national public inquiry into this very, very important issue," Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne said.

Absent from the meeting, however, were Alberta Premier Alison Redford, Newfoundland & Labrador Premier Kathy Dunderdale, and Nunavut Premier Eva Aariak.

Michèle Audette, the president of the Native Women's Association of Canada, told CBC News on Wednesday she was not happy to see that three premiers were absent from the meeting.

"It's so obvious we are not a priority," Audette said adding that they could have sent a representative on their behalf, Audette said.

Audette told CBC News on Tuesday, ahead of the meeting, that she would call on the premiers and territorial leaders to support the group's push for a national public inquiry into why so many aboriginal women are murdered or go missing.

"It is not a native women's issue, or an aboriginal issue. For us, it's a Canadian issue and everybody is affected by that," Audette told CBC News on Tuesday.

The Native Women's Association of Canada has said they have documented over 600 cases where aboriginal women have been murdered or gone missing betwen 2005 and 2010 — a number the RCMP has told CBC News it can't confirm.

Premiers skip meeting

A spokesperson for Redford told CBC News that the premier could not be at the meeting with aboriginal leaders because she is in Toronto for a "crucial meeting" with insurance companies.

"Alberta is still recovering from the floods and homeowners are seeking answers about what comes next… She had the meeting to urge insurers to continue working directly with their clients and provide clear information to homeowners," a spokesperson for the Alberta premier said.

Redford's spokesperson said the premier was looking forward to "hearing the outcome of the meeting."

Dunderdale's office told CBC News the premier's schedule did not permit her to attend today's meeting.

The Assembly of First Nations said it would be making a presentation to the premiers highlighting a number of priorities where action is needed including economic and resource development.

Shawn Atleo, the national chief for the Assembly of First Nations, will be recommending that a meeting between provincial ministers and aboriginal leaders be struck on the specific issue of resource revenue sharing.

Included in the delegation of aboriginal leaders are the Assembly of First Nations, the Métis National Council, the Native Women's Association of Canada, the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples, and Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami.

A number of issues were expected to come up during the meeting including the lack of affordable housing for aboriginal people living off-reserve, education, and economic development.

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