NEWS: Harper agrees to parliamentary committee, but not national inquiry, on murdered Aboriginal women

The Sisters in Spirit vigil on Parliament Hill, October 2012.

The Sisters in Spirit vigil on Parliament Hill, October 2012.

The Globe and Mail reports, "The Conservative government is throwing its support behind the creation of a new committee on missing and murdered aboriginal women one day after the release of a scathing human-rights report documenting allegations of abuse and neglect by the RCMP. The move does not go as far as the national commission of inquiry that native groups and human-rights observers have been demanding, but it is a striking shift in approach for a government that has rarely spoken directly about the crisis."

"While the government has so far side-stepped questions about a national inquiry, it agreed on Thursday to support a Liberal motion to create a committee with a mandate to study violence against aboriginal women and make recommendations on how to curb it. Under the terms of the Liberal proposal, the committee would have the means to travel across the country and collect evidence, and would be expected to report to Parliament on its findings within a year."

"Claudette Dumont-Smith, executive director of the Native Women’s Association of Canada, said that while a national commission of inquiry is still needed, she is willing to support other actions that will help keep the issue of violence against aboriginal women in the spotlight. 'We have no idea if and when the current government will agree to a public inquiry process,' Ms. Dumont-Smith said. 'So at least having a Parliamentary committee in place, and hopefully starting soon, will keep this issue alive in the minds of Canadians and among politicians.'"

"Stewart Phillip, the head of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, dismissed the prospect of the committee, which he said falls far short of the full-fledged commission that the families of missing and murdered women deserve. 'This is a typical move on the part of the Harper government to come forward with an idea in a unilateral way without consultation,' said Mr. Phillip, speaking after a memorial march for missing and murdered women in Vancouver."

"The Native Women’s Association of Canada has documented nearly 600 disappearances and deaths of aboriginal women and girls in Canada, with about 40 per cent of those cases occurring after 2000, and roughly half of the suspected murders still unsolved. Advocates have asked for a national commission of inquiry on the issue for years, but their calls grew louder this week after New York-based Human Rights Watch released a report accusing the RCMP of failing to investigate many of the disappearances adequately. The report also catalogued numerous allegations of physical and sexual abuse by RCMP officers."

For more, please read:
- NEWS: Human Rights Watch calls for national inquiry of alleged RCMP abuse of Indigenous women in BC, http://canadians.org/blog/?p=19351
- Sisters in Spirit vigil today, http://canadians.org/blog/?p=16994