National roundtable on violence against Indigenous women: time to renew calls for effective, accountable and comprehension action

By Craig Benjamin and Jackie Hansen

The shocking levels of violence faced by First Nations, Inuit and Métis women and girls requires nothing less than a comprehensive, coordinated national response to ensure effective, unbiased police investigations, to support the families of those who have been murdered or gone missing, and to address the factors putting Indigenous women in harm’s way in the first place.

To get there, we need an independent public inquiry to ensure that the policies and programmes that make up a national action plan are based on a clear, unbiased understanding of the issues, and help hold government accountable for acting on the recommendations brought forward by affected families, communities and Indigenous peoples’ organizations.

Next week, a national roundtable on missing and murdered Indigenous women will focus public attention on the need for action.

The roundtable has been organized by the six national organizations representing First Nations, Inuit and Métis women and girls in Canada. Critically, the message from these organizations has been clear that a roundtable is only one step in the process and is not a substitute for a national action plan or public inquiry.

The roundtable will be attended by representatives of the federal, provincial and territorial governments. All but the federal government have already endorsed the call for a national inquiry.

Amnesty International is urging our members and supporters to use this moment to make sure that the Prime Minister knows that Canadians want a response that is effective, accountable and in keeping with the scale and pervasiveness of the threats to Indigenous women’s lives. Half measures are not acceptable when the lives of so-many Indigenous women and girls are on the line.

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