By Jorge Barrera
APTN National News
The country’s most prominent First Nations women’s organization was motivated by “internal politics” in its decision to water-down their initial support of the government’s $10 million strategy to deal with the hundreds of cases of murdered and missing Aboriginal women, says Conservative Senator Patrick Brazeau.
Brazeau made the accusation in a Nov. 10 posting on his Chamber Chat blog which also said that APTN National News’ coverage of the brewing Sisters in Spirit controversy has been “rife with errors and mistruths.”
Brazeau said that the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) had initially issued a press release supporting the Oct. 29 announcement before raising concerns.
“The fact that NWAC’s position on the funding of measures to deal with missing and murdered Aboriginal women seems to have changed since a meeting of its board of directors speaks more to the organization’s internal politics than to benefits to the community that these investments seeks to deliver,” wrote Brazeau.
Brazeau also criticizes NWAC for raising concerns over the government’s demand that no grant monies go toward projects using the name Sisters in Spirit . NWAC said the demand would have a negative impact on the name recognition of Sisters in Spirit which had grown in prominence since its birth over two decades ago on the streets of Vancouver.
“Should this be the aim of such investments? Should organizational profile trump provisions to help people?” said Brazeau. “NWAC readily deserves significant credit for its past and current efforts in respect of the Sisters in Spirit initiative. But it is of no justice or comfort to the families of the victims to suggest that anything linked to the announcement of $10 million in action designed to build upon the previous $5 million invested over five years represents unnecessary pain to victims’ families and communities. This is not only untrue it’s irresponsible to suggest as much.”
Brazeau also said that APTN‘s coverage of the issue had been “distorted” and called for “accuracy and balance” in future reporting.
APTN National News reported that the Conservatives would not allow NWAC to use government money for any projects using the name Sisters in Spirit or linked with the upkeep the organization’s groundbreaking database of murdered and missing Aboriginal women cases.
APTN also reported that NWAC was given one day’s notice of the government’s Oct. 29 announcement of a so-called national strategy on murdered and missing Aboriginal women.
NWAC told APTN last week that the announcement had little to do with Aboriginal women and that the organization would be asking the government for targeted funding in the next federal budget.
“It continues to baffle me that in some circles, significant action on issues is met with attitude and spin designed to purposely create controversy,” wrote Brazeau. “This is certainly the case with APTN’s distorted coverage of the Native Women’s Association of Canada’s position on the recently announced $10 million dealing with the plight of missing and murdered Aboriginal women.”
Brazeau said APTN’s “skewed” coverage made it “hard to get a clear sense of the real facts” around the issue.
“APTN news reports are rife with errors and mistruths,” said Brazeau. “One thing is clear and needs affirmation: NWAC’s role in this matter has been pivotal. Further, it bears noting that NWAC was apprised of the announcement before it was made. They were on the podium for its introduction, and NWAC’s national office was instrumental in many of the announcement logistics, including choosing the elder who gave the blessing which opened the ceremony….
“No one, especially NWAC, ‘was kept in the dark until the last minute’ regarding the announcement. Let’s be clear, the efforts of NWAC in undertaking the Sisters in Sprit initiative have delivered impetus that has directly led to the $10 million federal investments that will contribute to means that seek to overcome the tragic toll of missing and murdered Aboriginal women has had on victims’ families and their communities,” said Brazeau.
Brazeau, however, does not offer details of the errors or mistruths that he says were rife in APTN’s coverage.
APTN’s request for an interview with Brazeau was turned down. Brazeau’s staff say he is busy this week.