APTN National News
OTTAWA–A Parliamentary committee plans to hold hearings later this month in several provinces as part of a study on violence against Aboriginal women.
The hearings will unfold against the backdrop of the still swirling controversy over the Conservative government’s decision to stop funding a key project that brought the issue into the national spotlight.
The Commons status of women committee will be travelling to Ontario, British Columbia, Northwest Territories, Saskatchewan and Manitoba between Jan. 11 and Jan. 21. The committee has already conducted “fact-finding visits” in Nunavut, Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick and Quebec.
“Members of the committee understand the importance of this study and are eager to hear from communities in the West, where violence against Aboriginal women remains heavily prevalent on a day-to-day basis,” said Liberal MP Hedy Fry, who is the committee’s chair.
The planned hearings come as the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) shuts down its Sisters in Spirit project after the Conservative government decided to cut its funding.
The organization has recently reassigned staff formerly with the project credited with bringing the dark and troubling stories of hundreds of murdered and missing Aboriginal women into the light.
The Sisters in Spirit project produced reports detailing the cases of murdered and missing women and created a groundbreaking, national cases database that had drawn the interest of police forces as a possible resource.
NWAC is currently trying to find private sector funding to continue Sisters in Spirit.
The Conservative government froze the project out of the $10 million set aside to deal with the issue in the last federal budget. Instead, the government, redirected resources to the RCMP to create an investigation branch dedicated to missing persons cases and identification of human remains across the country.
The government also put some money toward victims’ services and community anti-violence programs.
Liberal and NDP MPs have called on the government to fund Sisters in Spirit.
The Liberals have also called for a public inquiry into the issue of murdered and missing Aboriginal women.
The committee will visit Prince Albert, Sask., Winnipeg, Sioux Lookout, Ont., Thunder Bay, Ont., Vancouver, Yellowknife, and Edmonton.