APTN National News
OTTAWA—Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde is requesting a meeting with RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson to discuss still undisclosed information held by the Mounties on murdered and missing Indigenous women.
The letter, dated Saturday, follows a statement issued by Bellegarde Friday calling on the RCMP to release data that backs up Paulson’s statement that Indigenous perpetrators are responsible for 70 per cent of the solved murdered of Indigenous women.
Paulson made the statement in a letter to Treaty 6 Grand Chief Bernice Martial which was released last Thursday by Status of Women Minister Kellie Leitch’s office. Paulson’s letter backed Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt who faced a backlash after he mentioned the 70 per cent statistic during a closed-door meeting in Calgary with several chiefs, including Martial, at the end of March.
In his own letter to Paulson, Bellegarde said the RCMP should have initially shared the information with First Nations.
“It is unacceptable that the RCMP and the federal government did not inform First Nations leadership of this information,” said Bellegarde, in the letter. “There is a long history of mistrust of police by First Nations and citizens. Withholding information only serves to damage relationships and foster suspicion, especially when that information is shared with government agencies or representatives who seem willing to use that information against First Nations to deny or diminish the action required.”
In the letter, Bellegarde also calls on the RCMP and the Harper government to release all “relevant” information related to murdered and missing Indigenous women to First Nations and the AFN. He then requests a meeting with Paulson “at the earliest opportunity.”
Part of the information the RCMP holds on murdered and missing Indigenous women comes from about 300 police forces and Statistics Canada. The RCMP signed agreements with Statistics Canada and the police agencies allowing it to obtain the information under certain conditions, including not disclosing the raw data publicly without the consent of the other parties.
Paulson also broke the RCMP’s “bias-free policing policy” when he confirmed the 70 per cent statistic. The RCMP initially said it would not be releasing ethnically-based information on perpetrators. Paulson confirmed the statistics as Valcourt faced increased criticism and calls for his resignation following his meeting in Calgary when he first mentioned the 70 per cent number.
Valcourt has previously publicly stated First Nation men were responsible for the majority of violence against First Nations women.
The RCMP released its first report on murdered and missing Indigenous women last spring, but it did not provide any data on the ethnicity of perpetrators. The RCMP is expected to release a second report on the subject in May.
An RCMP spokesperson said Paulson would be responding to Bellegarde’s letter.