A small step toward justice and healing? - Macleans.ca

A small step toward justice and healing?

The House to study the cases of missing and murdered aboriginal women


This evening, the House unanimously approved the Liberal motion to establish a committee to study missing and murdered aboriginal women. Carolyn Bennett’s speech explaining the need for such a committee is here.

I have heard the stories from Prince George to downtown Winnipeg. I slipped into the back of the hearing room at the Oppal inquiry in Vancouver on the Pickton murders to hear from the families and I can tell members, we are not doing enough. From 30 years ago when Helen Betty Osborne, who was clearly killed because she was an aboriginal woman, we have continued in this country to not do enough. Look at the names on the Sisters in Spirit website of Lorna Blacksmith, Daleen Kay Bosse, Claudette Osborne, Pamela Holopainen, Hilary Bonnell. Yesterday in the Human Rights Watch poignant paper, we saw the Highway of Tears sign with the names of Tamara and Cecilia and Delphine, and the people who are no longer with us because of this systemic violence.

The sign at these rallies that always touches me the most is, “To the world, she was one person. To us she was the world”. It means that we cannot deal with this in only the horrific statistics. We have to deal with this as a very human problem of human families and communities. It is also the systemic problem of the effects of residential schools, of colonization. The fact is that we have to address this head-on. We need the 96% of Canadians who are not from an aboriginal background to understand and work with us in this serious injustice. We need a public and national inquiry. There is no question that our motion today is not to say that this will be instead of a public inquiry. We want a national inquiry, but the government has been so reticent to actually do what is necessary, to deal head-on and analyze the root causes, to seek justice and to prevent and end the violence. We are asking, in the absence of a public inquiry, that our motion today would establish a special committee that would be able to hear evidence and propose recommendations to address the root causes of violence against indigenous women across the country, to seek justice and to identify a real action plan to stop the violence.