Niki Aston of the NDP speaks to the media with Bridget Tolley (L) with Families of Sisters in Spirit and Laurie Odjick (R) during a press conference asking for an inquiry for missing aboriginal women at Parliament Hill in Ottawa Feb 14, 2013.
Credits: ANDRE FORGET/QMI AGENCY
OTTAWA - The federal government committed to create a special committee on missing and murdered aboriginal women Thursday, but this move falls short of longstanding requests levelled by aboriginal organizations and opposition parties for a national inquiry.
The government agreed to evaluate "public policy issues" related the murders and disappearances of First Nations women but the parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Justice said the feds are "providing significant resources to law enforcement and victims."
"The murder and abduction of women in this country is completely unacceptable," said Kerry-Lynne Findlay.
The decision to strike a committee comes a day after Human Rights Watch (HRW) - an international watchdog organization - released a scathing report citing allegations of "abusive" police practices towards indigenous women by RCMP officers in Northern B.C.
HRW officials are slated to meet with the RCMP Friday to discuss allegations further.
First Nations families are also calling for conversation with government officials.
Laurie Odjick -- a mother of a missing aboriginal woman - invited Prime Minister Stephen Harper to meet with her and other aboriginal families at an Ottawa press conference Thursday.
Odjick's daughter Maisy was 16 years old when she went missing from Kitigan Zibi First Nation near Maniwaki, Que., in 2008. Maisy's friend Shannon Alexander also disappeared at that time.
Odjick is still looking for answers and maintains Maisy didn't run away.
In 2010, the Native Women's Association of Canada estimated there were 600 missing and murdered aboriginal women but it believes the number has since ballooned.