The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) and the Canadian Feminist Alliance for International Action (FAFIA) have announced that the United Nations will conduct an inquiry into the murders and disappearances of Aboriginal women and girls in Canada. NWAC and FAFIA asked the UN to investigate Canadian violations of the Convention for the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) on the issue of violence against Aboriginal women on several occasions.
Canada is a signatory to the CEDAW and also to the Optional Protocol, which outlines a process for initiating an inquiry when the CEDAW Committee receives “reliable information indicating grave or systemic violations.”
In 2008, the CEDAW Committee noted that the Canadian government had failed to live up to its obligations, and reasserted this position again in 2010, stating, “The Committee considers that its recommendation (regarding missing and murdered Aboriginal women and girls) has not been implemented and it requests the Canadian authorities to urgently provide further information on measures undertaken to address such concerns.”
CUPE supports an inquiry into this matter, and calls on the Harper government to cooperate with the United Nations CEDAW Committee so that the appalling situation will be brought to light and actions will be taken to end it.
The Canadian government has ignored its commitment to the basic human rights of Aboriginal women.
Recently the House of Commons Committee on the Status of Women released its final report on violence against Aboriginal women, which completely ignored the input of the Aboriginal women who appeared before them. It did not address in any meaningful way proposals to deal with the systemic issues affecting Aboriginal women in terms of poverty, lack of access to education, health care, housing and adequate resources to deal with violence.
The NDP issued a dissenting report which calls for a coordinated approach between government and Aboriginal people to address all these factors.