Coast Salish Territory, February 10, 2010— The All Chiefs’ Task Force challenges Steven Harper to call for a public inquiry into murdered and missing women in Canada before touting lofty global initiatives to make international women’s issues a priority.

“Leadership starts at home,” says Chief Lisa Shaver, “If the Prime Minister wants to lecture the world about maternal and child health he should start by looking in his own backyard.  Indigenous women continue to suffer violence, indignity and discrimination in Canada based on their gender and economic status.  Indigenous women are five times more likely than other women in Canada to be at risk of violence and exploitation.”

The B.C. All Chiefs’ Task Force is calling on the Harper government to develop a specific and integrated plan for addressing the particular conditions affecting Aboriginal women, including poverty, poor heath, inadequate housing, low incomes and high rates of violence.

             Media Advisory

                    What: BC All Chiefs' Press Conference

                   When: Thursday February 11th at 11:00am

           Where: On the steps of The British Columbia Legislature,
                     501 Belleville Street, Victoria, BC

                 Contact: Chief Lisa Shaver, (250) 246-2321

“Long-standing patterns of marginalization, impoverishment and discrimination are critical factors putting Indigenous women in Canada at risk of violence and exploitation. Efforts must continue to bring justice and restore the dignity and respect for First Nations women to ensure the safety of our grandmothers, mothers, daughters, sisters, teachers, and leaders. First Nations women must not be forgotten,” says Kathryn Teneese, Chair of the Ktunaxa Nation Council.

Over 3000 women are believed to have gone missing or been murdered in Canada since the 1970s, yet only 520 are officially recognized. Last year, the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women issued this statement: “Hundreds of cases involving Aboriginal women who have gone missing or been murdered in the past two decades have neither been fully investigated nor attracted priority attention.”

Despite continued requests to the Federal government to investigate the cases of murdered and missing women in Canada, there has been no response from the Conservative government.  Provincial governments have taken it upon themselves to launch their own investigations.  Manitoba recently formed a murdered and missing women task force in August of 2009, and BC formed a Missing Women Investigative Task Force which is currently ongoing.

“A public inquiry would not only provide closure and answers to the family members still living with the loss of their loved ones, but would also help identify the exact number of women that have gone missing across the country,” says Chief Wayne Christian, spokesperson for the B.C. All Chiefs’ Task Force. “An inquiry will help in developing a comprehensive action plan to protect First Nations’ women from violence and discrimination.”

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