To the editor:
Over the past several decades a tragedy has quietly unfolded in our own backyard: disproportionate and disturbingly high rates of Aboriginal women and girls have gone missing or been murdered.
If this happened to our non-native Canadian women at the same rate, there would be more than 20,000 victims.
While indigenous women and girls account for 10 per cent of all female homicides in Canada, they make up just three per cent of our female population. About 85 per cent of all homicides are solved by police investigations, but that “clearance rate” drops to just 50 per cent when the victim is an Aboriginal woman or girl.
Our indifference towards this injustice must end. That’s why the Liberal Party has been pushing for years for a transparent national public inquiry to get to the bottom of these cases and their root causes. Yet each time we advanced the idea, we were rebuffed.
Finally there is a breakthrough: Parliament has passed a Liberal motion with the support of all parties to create a special parliamentary committee to look into these cases and to find ways to address the root causes of this intolerable violence.
While we still firmly believe a national public inquiry is needed, this is a small, but important first step. Now, it is up to all MPs, including Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo Cathy McLeod, to ensure the committee conducts serious work without interference from the Prime Minister’s Office. It is high time to provide justice for the victims, healing for their families and an end the violence.
Carolyn Bennett, MP
Liberal Party Aboriginal affairs critic