Families of missing, murdered indigenous women hope roundtable will lead to action

WINNIPEG -- Lorelei Williams left the first roundtable on missing and murdered indigenous women in tears after family members who had lost loved ones fought to be one of four people allowed to speak.

See Full Article

The British Columbia woman, whose aunt disappeared in 1978 and whose cousin's remains were found on the farm of convicted killer Robert Pickton, says she felt revictimized by the experience.

Williams hopes it will be different when premiers, federal and provincial ministers gather again for a second roundtable in Winnipeg. Leaders need to listen more carefully to voices like hers and do what they can to address the issue in their own jurisdictions, she says.

"Once they get to know the families and what it does to them, I feel like (they) can fight a better battle," she said Tuesday. "There is a lot of racism that has flawed cases and that needs to be addressed."

Beverley Jacobs, whose cousin was killed in 2008, was one of the four people who spoke at the first roundtable. She said the experience was horrible.

She isn't attending this roundtable, but said she hopes provincial leaders use it to look at addressing poverty, affordable housing, community safety and the disproportionate number of indigenous children in care.

"These are all issues that impact indigenous women," said Jacobs, the lead researcher on Amnesty International's report on missing and murdered indigenous women.

The roundtable begins Wednesday with a day-long, closed-door session for families only. It's to be followed by two days of meetings with premiers, ministers, indigenous leaders and families.

A lot has changed since the last roundtable a year ago when calls for a national inquiry loomed large. The Conservatives, who steadfastly refused to call one, lost the fall federal election to the Liberals, who have promised to convene one this year.

National Chief Perry Bellegarde with the Assembly of First Nations said a national inquiry is only one part of the solution.

"There's still action items that provinces and big cities can also look at," Bellegarde said. "You can't just rely on the federal government to do this."

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne said her government is going beyond the inquiry to address violence against indigenous women.

She announced Tuesday that her government is spending $100 million over the next three years on a long-term anti-violence strategy, most of it to support indigenous families. She said she hopes the roundtable will result in concrete actions, including a co-ordinated public awareness campaign.

"The national inquiry is important ... but it cannot be used as an excuse for not taking action," said Wynne, who is attending the roundtable.

Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger said the provinces each have a list of projects to be discussed and prioritized. They include engaging indigenous men in anti-violence campaigns and improving access to emergency shelters.

"There is quite a bit of motivation in the room to follow up on these things."

For federal ministers, the roundtable is a chance to consult provincial leaders about the inquiry. Federal Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould has toured the country to hear from family members about what the inquiry should look like. She said she hopes the roundtable will be a chance to get the provinces and territories on board.

"It's going to be a good discussion. I'm looking forward to it."

Indigenous Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett said she hopes to get ideas on what action can be taken immediately.

"There obviously are some things we could be doing together right now," she said. "There is optimism from the families, but also the provinces and territories, that we're finally going to get to work together with the federal government on a real plan."

The RCMP has estimated at least 1,200 indigenous women have disappeared or been murdered since 1980. Although indigenous women make up 4.3 per cent of the Canadian population, they account for 16 per cent of female homicides and 11.3 per cent of missing women.

With files from Kristy Kirkup in Ottawa and Allison Jones in Toronto



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • AP source: Guantanamo prisoners now getting COVID-19 vaccine

    World News CTV News
    WASHINGTON -- Prisoners at the Guantanamo Bay detention centre can now begin getting the COVID-19 vaccine, a senior defence official told The Associated Press on Monday, months after a plan to inoculate them was scuttled over outrage that many Americans weren't eligible to receive the shots. Source
  • Judge keeps ex-cop's 20-year sentence for killing Black man

    World News CTV News
    COLUMBIA, S.C. -- A judge upheld a 20-year prison sentence on Monday for former police officer Michael Slager in the killing of Walter Scott, an unarmed Black man who ran from a traffic stop in South Carolina, rejecting Slager's claims his lawyer did a poor job. Source
  • Why you shouldn't ask people how they got their COVID-19 shot before you

    Canada News CTV News
    TORONTO -- As more and more Canadians are being given access to COVID-19 vaccines, people are being reminded not to question their co-workers or loved ones as to how they were eligible to get their shot. Source
  • Did Derek Chauvin cause George Floyd's death and were his actions 'reasonable'? Jury must now decide

    World News CBC News
    Did former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin act reasonably and within his authority when he applied force on George Floyd? And did those actions, including his knee pressed on the neck and back of the 46-year-old Black man, result in his death? Source
  • Did Derek Chauvin cause George Floyd's death and was his use of force 'reasonable'? Jury must now decide

    World News CBC News
    Did former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin act reasonably and within his authority when he applied force on George Floyd? And did those actions, including his knee pressed on the neck and back of the 46-year-old Black man, result in his death? Source
  • No one behind the wheel in fatal Tesla crash, Texas authorities say

    World News CBC News
    Two U.S. federal agencies are sending teams to investigate the fatal crash of a Tesla near Houston, Texas in which local authorities say no one was behind the wheel. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), both of which investigate serious auto accidents, said Monday they will send investigators to Spring, Texas, where two men were killed in the fiery crash Saturday night. Source
  • Macron urges law change after Jewish woman's killer avoids trial

    World News CTV News
    PARIS, FRANCE -- French President Emmanuel Macron urged a change in law after a man who murdered a Jewish woman in 2017 avoided a trial on the grounds he acted in delirium due to drug-taking, in an interview published Monday. Source
  • Suspected poacher trampled to death by elephants in South Africa

    World News CTV News
    A suspected poacher was trampled to death by a herd of elephants in South Africa's Kruger National Park on Saturday, according to a statement by South African National Parks published Sunday. Three suspected poachers were attempting to flee Kruger National Park rangers when they ran into a breeding herd of elephants, the statement said. Source
  • Families of workers killed in B.C. train derailment allege negligence in lawsuit

    Canada News CTV News
    FIELD, B.C. -- Families of two of three people killed in a train derailment near the British Columbia-Alberta boundary have filed lawsuits alleging negligence. The westbound Canadian Pacific train was parked on a grade and had its air brakes on in February 2019, when it started rolling on its own, gaining speeds far above the limit for the mountain pass near Field, B.C. Source
  • Prosecutor: FedEx shooter didn't have 'red flag' hearing

    World News CTV News
    INDIANAPOLIS -- A former employee who shot and killed eight people at a FedEx facility in Indianapolis never appeared before a judge for a hearing under Indiana's “red flag” law, even after his mother called police last year to say her son might commit “suicide by cop,” a prosecutor said Monday. Source