The United Nations has reportedly called for an inquiry into the hundreds of missing and aboriginal women in Canada over the last 20 years.
Sharon McIvor of the Canadian Feminist Alliance for International Action said she has it on “good very authority” that the decision to hold an inquiry has been made, but no document to will likely be seen to confirm the decision.
“I suspect in the not-too-distant future Canada will publicly acknowledge the inquiry,” she told The Progress Wednesday.
Chilliwack resident Ernie Crey, whose sister Dawn vanished from Vancouver’s Downtown East Side in November, 2000, said the Canadian government is treaty-bound to “cooperate” with an inquiry called by the UN.
“You would think both Ottawa and its national police force, the RCMP, would have taken action on these deaths and disappearances years ago,” he said.
“Unfortunately, both Ottawa and the RCMP, especially the RCMP, seem to be shot through with an endemic case of misogyny.”
In light of the apparent indifference of Canadian authorities, Crey said he is not surprised by the call for an inquiry by the UN’s Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women.
“With these old school attitudes towards women permeating both the halls of power in Ottawa and the RCMP, is it any wonder that aboriginal women’s advocacy organizations in the country sought the intervention of the UN to inquire into the disappearances and deaths of so many aboriginal women?”
The FAIA and the Native Women’s Association of Canada called for the UN inquiry after documenting than 600 cases of missing and murdered aboriginal women and girls in Canada.
A B.C. inquiry headed by former Attorney-General Wally Oppal into police handling of the cases of missing women who became victims of serial killer Robert Pickton has lost credibility since the B.C. government refused to fund legal assistance for groups representing sex trade workers and others.
Crey’s sister Dawn is believed to have been a victim of Pickton’s because her DNA was found on his Coquitlam farm. But her case is one of many that never came to court after Pickton was convicted on six counts of second-degree murder in December, 2007.
NWAC president Jeannette Corbiere Lavell said “aboriginal women in Canada experience rates of violence 3.5 times higher than non-aboriginal women, and young aboriginal women are five times more likely to die of violence.”
McIvor said “systemic discrimination” is at the root of the murders and disappearances of aboriginal women in Canada.
“Canada has not lived up to its obligations under international human rights law to prevent, investigate and remedy violence against aboriginal women and girls,” she said.
Canada has signed a protocol that authorizes the UN committee to investigate allegations of “grave or systemic violations” of the UN Convention by means of an inquiry.
“Now that the inquiry has been announced, Canada will be expected to cooperate with the committee’s investigation,” Crey said.