APTN National News
OTTAWA--The Assembly of First Nations Thursday joined the chorus of criticism surrounding the launch of the British Columbia inquiry into the Robert Pickton case.
The AFN said the inquiry failed in fully including the voices of First Nations people and should also examine the “root causes” of why so many First Nations women became Pickton’s victims.
“We need to examine the root causes of why too many Aboriginal women are placed in vulnerable situations and consider approaches to prevent further violence,” said AFN national Chief Shawn Atleo, in a statement. “Likewise, it is essential that this public inquiry does a thorough examination of procedures and decisions made by people with the authority to ensure accountability and correction for mistakes that may have been made.”
The inquiry, headed by former B.C. attorney general Wally Oppal, is mandated to examine why so many women went missing before police arrested Pickton.
Pickton was convicted of killing six women and was charged with the murder of 20 others. Many of his victims were First Nations women from Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.
Pickton claimed to have killed 49 women.
The AFN also criticized the appointment of Oppal to lead the inquiry. Victim’s families have voiced their over his appointment because they believe it creates a conflict of interest.
“First Nations are frankly shocked that this inquiry would be announced without any discussion with First Nations,” said AFN women’s council co-chair Kathleen McHugh. “We are calling on the provincial government to consider reviewing and expanding the inquiry’s terms of reference and the choice of commissioner.”