By Kenneth Jackson
APTN National News
The Native Women’s Association of Canada is seeking the federal government to set aside “special ministerial” funding to revive its Sisters in Spirit database that tracks missing and murdered Indigenous women.
The request was made in a four-page letter issued Wednesday in what was NWAC’s formal response to a special Parliamentary committee report on violence against Indigenous women released on March 6.
Groups like NWAC had been hoping the report would call for a national inquiry into missing and murdered women, but it stopped short of doing so.
NWAC executive director Michele Audette said in an interview the database was canceled in 2010, but their work found nearly 600 cases of missing and murdered Indigenous women.
Current statistics suggest that number is now about 820 and growing.
“We were able to do that research, some awareness and training,” said Audette of the funding they had. “For us, we would go and do the beautiful work that was started many years ago.”
Audette said she mentioned bringing the database back to Status of Women Minister Kellie Leitch about a week before the committee report was released.
“We spoke to Minister Leitch a few weeks ago … (and) her staff was saying to no us on missing and murdered. They wanted us to do something else. But during the meeting she said she was the one to make the decision,” said Audette. “She is apparently waiting for me to call her.”
In their letter, NWAC was critical of the committee’s report saying it was doomed from the beginning because the majority of the members were of the Conservative government that has said an inquiry isn’t needed.
NWAC also recommended the government develop a national action plan to address violence against Indigenous women and girls, as well as an annual forum to educated service providers.