APTN National News
A national roundtable to discuss the high number of murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls will be held on Feb. 27 in Ottawa, according to a memo from the Assembly of First Nations.
The meeting will include representatives from national Aboriginal organizations, provincial and territorial leaders along with the families of murdered and missing Indigenous women, according to a memo sent to the AFN’s executive last Friday.
The roundtable will focus on “tangible outcomes” and cover three areas during the planned discussions including prevention and awareness, community safety plans and the responses from policing and judicial authorities, the note said.
“Each jurisdiction and national organization is asked to put forward specific commitments,” said the note.
The roundtable aims to “collectively identify solutions” to end “all forms of violence” and “secure further commitment” to dialogue and “engagement of Indigenous peoples in actions that involve all parties.”
The roundtable is part of a plan to create a “national dialogue” on the issue of murdered and missing Indigenous women to eventually secure an inquiry into the issue, said the note.
It’s unclear whether the prime minister or his federal ministers will attend the roundtable, but they have been invited.
Status of Women Minister Kellie Leitch’s office said an invitation had been received and a response would be forthcoming “in the near future.”
The Prime Minister’s Office did not respond to a request seeking comment.
Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt’s office did not respond to a request seeking comment. Valcourt has blamed Indigenous men living on First Nation reserves for the high number of murdered and missing Indigenous women.
News of the Feb. 27 roundtable surfaced on the same day the Organization of American States’ Inter-American Commission on Human Rights released a report on the high number of missing and murdered Indigenous women in British Columbia.
The report found that the “disappearances and murdered of Indigenous women in Canada are part of a broader pattern of violence and discrimination against Indigenous women in Canada.”
The seeds for the roundtable were planted in July 2014 after AFN chiefs passed a resolution calling for the roundtable. The next month Aboriginal leaders met with the premiers and the two sides agreed to hold the roundtable. Then, last October, provincial and territorial representatives met with officials from national Aboriginal organizations and agreed to hold the roundtable in February.
An RCMP report found that about 1,200 Indigenous women have been murdered or gone missing since 1980.