NEWS

Missing and murdered women solution includes grassroots say minister, advocate

02/25/2015 01:43 EST | Updated 04/27/2015 05:59 EDT
B.C.'s Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Rustad said grassroots movements are key to solving the large number of aboriginal women who go missing or are murdered in Canada ahead of a national roundtable on the issue.

"You need to be able to support the grassroots to really help bring an end to this violence that we're seeing," he told The Early Edition's Rick Cluff.

Starting on Friday, representatives from around the country, including the families of aboriginal women who have gone missing, will meet in Ottawa for the National Roundtable on Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women.

Nearly 1,200 aboriginal women have been murdered or gone missing in Canada in the past 30 years. 

Two years ago, B.C.'s Missing Women Commission of Inquiry issued 63 of recommendations, of which the B.C. government says it has followed two thirds.

Action needed

That isn't good enough for advocates like Lilian Howard, who works with the Vancouver Aboriginal Community Policing Centre Society.

"There's a long list of recommendations and they're just sitting there on the shelf," she said. 

"They're obviously not addressing the bigger issues — social and economic issues — that we face in aboriginal communities. The missing and murdered women stems from living in poverty."

Rustad agreed.

"Lilian is right. The economy and the economic side is something that is critical," he said.

"We have taken a lot of steps down that road through efforts that we're doing around revenue sharing and encouraging the engagement of First Nations, but that's only one piece of it."

Chastity Davis, the chair of the Minister's Advisory Council on Aboriginal Women and a member of the Sliammon First Nation, said the responsibility to prevent more women from disappearing is something 

"We all need to take responsibility for this issue," she said.

"All of us as Canadians and the provincial and federal government and the RCMP and other organizations that are involved with this issue need to take responsibility and look internally and say, 'What is it that we're doing or not doing that is contributing to this issue,' and start getting coordinated efforts to work together."

Both Rustad and Davis support calls for a national inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women.

To hear the full interview with John Rustad and Chastity Davis, click the audio labelled: B.C. represented at National Roundtable on Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women.

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