An Assembly of First Nations justice forum in Vancouver that began Feb. 21 was used to explore the idea of a national inquiry into the issue of missing and murdered Aboriginal women, said Stewart Phillip, president of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs. Phillip has been critical of the province’s missing and murdered women’s inquiry, headed by former attorney general Wally Oppal.
He said the focus of the BC inquiry is too narrow, and funding for marginalized groups to take part was denied, which will render the findings of the inquiry as inadequate. Assembly of First Nations National Chief Shawn Atleo, and other Aboriginal leaders, spoke to delegates of the forum beside a table lined with candles and photos of women that have gone missing or been murdered. Atleo said a national public inquiry has long been an objective of the AFN.
The forum also was used to announce a campaign and Web site, www.missingkids.ca, that will help families in their search for missing children, with the goal also of preventing further disappearances.
“Too many of our children and youth were reported missing at a very young age, and we cannot and we will not lose another generation,” Atleo said during remarks about the initiative.
“It is our time to step up and together ensure that our children are supported in ways that they can be safe and confident to lead the way for this and future generations.” The Web site is offered by the Canadian Centre for Child Protection with the AFN.