Statement of Support for a National Inquiry Concerning Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women

Sisters in Spirit Vigil
Photo credit: Assembly of First Nations

Statement
The Canadian Public Health Association (CPHA) supports the calls for a national inquiry into missing and murdered Aboriginal women originating from the Assembly of First Nations, the Native Women’s Association of Canada, other First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples associations, the families of the missing and murdered, and the Premiers of Canada’s provincial and territorial governments. The Association also calls on the Federal government to:

  • Conduct an evaluation of the actions taken as a result of the previous inquiries, reports and investigations on missing and murdered Aboriginal women, and
  • Develop and implement, as recommended by the World Health Organization,1 an integrated action plan for violence prevention that addresses its root causes.  The initiative should be led by First Nations, Inuit and Métis partners and engage all levels of government and civil society.

Context
In 1990, CPHA’s members approved a resolution that recognized violence as a pervasive and destructive force in society and pledged to advocate strongly for its reduction and elimination.2  Living with violence, or in fear of violence, is in opposition to the fundamental conditions and resources necessary to achieve optimal health.  It is critical to take a health promotion approach to understand the complexity of violence and to reduce its occurrence.  A thorough understanding of violence requires information on who is at risk, the social values underlying human relationships and effective strategies used to prevent violence and heal its effects.  In Canada, violence has not yet been clearly identified as a priority health issue, nor addressed in the design and delivery of community health services or health promotion efforts.

Achieving a violence-free society requires a proactive process which creates an empowered community that is supported by governmental structures that ensure the full participation and safety of community members regardless of their socio-economic status, gender, race, culture, age or sexual orientation.

The issue of violence against Aboriginal women has been studied and documented extensively in a number of Federal, Provincial and Territorial documents, the most recent being the 2014 Report on the Special Committee on Violence against Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women.3 These reports provide many recommendations to address this issue, yet there is no record of their implementation, nor their impact in remediating the situation.  Now is the time to undertake a formative evaluation of the results of these reports, and to plan for and take action on these recommendations, with the full participation of the First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples.  This evaluation should be completed in parallel with the Inquiry.


1
World Health Organization. World Report on Violence and Health. Geneva, Switzerland: 2002. Available at: www.who.int/violence_injury_prevention/violence/world_report/en/.
2
Canadian Public Health Association. Violence in Society: A Public Health Perspective. Ottawa, ON: 1990. Available at: www.cpha.ca/en/programs/policy/violence.aspx.
3
Special Committee on Violence Against Indigenous Women. 2014. Invisible Women: A Call to Action. A report on missing and murdered Aboriginal women in Canada. March 2014. Available at: www.parl.gc.ca/HousePublications/Publication.aspx?DocId=6469851.