08/26/2014 10:14 EDT | Updated 10/26/2014 05:59 EDT

Saskatchewan Cree elder sets out on long trek to aid safety of aboriginal women

BEAUVAL, Sask. - A Cree elder in northern Saskatchewan is setting out on a 400-kilometre walk to press for a national inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women.

Emil Bell was to start his Beauval-to-Saskatoon trek on Tuesday, carrying a petition that asks the federal government to hold the inquiry.

Bell says he decided to make the walk after hearing about the death of Tina Fontaine, a 15-year-old aboriginal girl whose body was found in a bag floating in the Red River near a downtown Winnipeg dock earlier this month.

Bell went on a hunger strike last year in support of Attawapiskat First Nation Chief Theresa Spence and the Idle No More movement.

Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall says the provinces and aboriginal leaders support a public inquiry, something Prime Minister Stephen Harper rejects.

Harper has said most cases such as Fontaine's are addressed and solved by the police.

"While Saskatchewan has the ability to call its own inquiry, our focus remains on giving police the tools they need to hunt down the cowards who commit these disgusting crimes," Gerry Ritz, federal agriculture minister and a Saskatchewan MP, said in an email.

(CJLR, The Canadian Press)