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

  • Roadside bombs kill 14 in morning attack in Syrian capital

    World News CBC News
    Two roadside bombs exploded near a bus carrying troops during the morning rush hour in the Syrian capital early Wednesday, killing 14 people and wounding others, state TV reported. The attack was the deadliest in Damascus in years, and a rare event since government forces captured suburbs formerly held by insurgents in Syria's decade-long conflict. Source
  • Roadside bombs hit military bus in Syrian capital, kill 14

    World News CTV News
    DAMASCUS, SYRIA -- Two roadside bombs exploded near a bus carrying troops during the morning rush hour in the Syrian capital early Wednesday, killing 14 people and wounding others, state TV reported. The attack was the deadliest in Damascus in years, and a rare event since government forces captured suburbs formerly held by insurgents in Syria's decade-long conflict. Source
  • Wave of killings triggers memories of dark past in Kashmir

    World News CTV News
    SRINAGAR, INDIA -- The Kashmiri Hindu activist was listening to religious hymns on his cellphone when he was interrupted by a tragic WhatsApp message. It brought news of a fatal shooting of a prominent chemist from his community, just a few miles from the activist's home in Srinagar, the largest city in Indian-controlled Kashmir. Source
  • Report to urge charges against Brazil's leader over pandemic

    World News CBC News
    Brazilians will turn their focus on Wednesday to the Senate, where a report six months in the making will recommend President Jair Bolsonaro be indicted on criminal charges for allegedly bungling the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and pushing the country's death toll to second-highest in the world. Source
  • Report to urge Brazil's leader face criminal charges over pandemic response

    World News CBC News
    Brazilians will turn their focus on Wednesday to the Senate, where a report six months in the making will recommend President Jair Bolsonaro be indicted on criminal charges for allegedly bungling the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and pushing the country's death toll to second-highest in the world. Source
  • Nikolas Cruz set to plead guilty to Parkland massacre

    World News CTV News
    FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. -- Nikolas Cruz is scheduled to plead guilty to 17 counts of first-degree murder Wednesday for the 2018 shooting massacre at a Florida high school, as his attorneys turn their focus to saving him from a death sentence. Source
  • Volcano in southern Japan erupts with massive smoke column

    World News CTV News
    TOKYO -- A volcano in southern Japan erupted Wednesday with a massive column of gray smoke billowing into the sky. The Japan Meteorological Agency raised the warning level for Mount Aso to three on a scale of five, warning hikers and residents to avoid the mountain. Source
  • Negotiations drag on over 17 missionaries kidnapped in Haiti

    World News CTV News
    PORT-AU-PRINCE, HAITI -- Negotiations stretched into a fourth day seeking the return of 17 members of a U.S.-based missionary group kidnapped over the weekend by a violent gang that is demanding US$1 million ransom per person. Source
  • 4-time Stanley Cup winner Mike Bossy reveals lung cancer diagnosis

    Canada News CBC News
    Former New York Islanders winger and TVA hockey analyst Mike Bossy is battling lung cancer. He announced the news in a letter to TVA Sports Tuesday. "It is with a lot of sadness that I need to step away from your screens for a necessary pause. Source
  • Brazil senators readying call for Bolsonaro criminal charges

    World News CTV News
    BRASILIA, BRAZIL -- Brazilian senators met into Tuesday night discussing a report that will recommend President Jair Bolsonaro be indicted on criminal charges for allegedly bungling the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and pushing the country's death toll to second-highest in the world. Source