Politics
Aboriginal leaders, opposition call to probe missing, murdered native women

The Remembering Our Sisters 6th Annual March in London, ON back in Feb., 2011, raising awareness for the hundreds of murdered or missing native women.

Credits: DEREK RUTTAN/THE LONDON FREE PRESS/QMI AGENCY

KRISTY KIRKUP | QMI AGENCY

OTTAWA - Hundreds of aboriginal leaders united on the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women to push the federal government to launch a public inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women in Canada.

Violence against Native women was the central focus at a key strategy session held as part of a summit featuring hundreds of First Nations chiefs on Thursday.

The annual meeting of aboriginal leaders is organized in Ottawa by the Assembly of First Nations, which operates as an advocacy organization.

Based on available data, the Native Women's Association of Canada estimates about 600 aboriginal women and girls have been killed or have gone missing in the last 20 years. Most of these cases remain unsolved.

"We cannot lose any more of our sisters, mothers or daughters to violence," said AFN National Chief Shawn Atleo in a statement. "We need action at every level and the leadership is prepared to empower, support and encourage this action to achieve justice and end violence."

The AFN and opposition parties have been calling for an independent inquiry to probe the underpinning reasons of the deaths and disappearances.

In 2010, the federal government allocated $10 million over two years to target violence against Native women in Canada. The AFN says most of money was directed at trying to bolster existing police investigations, databases and victim services.

Among its recommendations, the AFN has called for better co-ordination among all levels of governments and First Nation jurisdictions to end violence.

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