Vancouver, British Columbia
October 29, 2010
Check against delivery
Good morning ladies and gentlemen. Bonjour Mesdames, Messieurs.
I would like to thank you all for coming today.
And I would like to thank Gerry Oleman for the opening blessing.
I am pleased to be here in Vancouver with my colleague Senator Patrick Brazeau from Quebec.
And I am honoured to also be here with Chief of Police Jim Chu, and Chief Superintendent Craig Callens from E Division of the RCMP.
I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Dave Woodland from the Salvation Army, Krista Thompson from Covenant House and Elizabeth Bastien from the Native Women's Association of Canada for being here with us today.
Today is an important occasion for our Government to reiterate our commitment to address the disturbing number of missing and murdered Aboriginal women.
In this year's Speech from the Throne and Budget, we committed to taking concrete actions and showing national leadership to address the issue.
As Canadians we know that Aboriginal women deserve respect, dignity and the right to feel safe.
As Minister for Status of Women, I have been humbled by the chance to meet a variety of amazing Canadian women who have dedicated their careers to reducing violence against women and its devastating impact.
Women like Jeanette Corbiere Lavell, the President of the Native Women's Association of Canada. She and her team have worked tirelessly to raise awareness on an issue that haunts so many communities.
Which is why this year, through Status of Women Canada, we are providing them with support for their project to strengthen the ability of Aboriginal women and girls across the country to recognize and respond to issues of violence.
Jeanette's Association has undertaken an incredible amount of research on the number of missing and murdered Aboriginal women in Canada, and they've brought to light the shocking extent of these horrendous acts of violence against Aboriginal Women.
In fact today, this Association is receiving an award to recognize their dedication to missing and murdered Aboriginal Women.
As Minister for the Status of Women, I am very concerned with about the pattern violence against Aboriginal women, and the impact it has on the families and our communities who suffer as a result.
In Canada today, all Aboriginal women - including First Nations, Inuit, Métis and non-status Indians - are three and a half times more likely to experience violent victimization than non-Aboriginal women.
They're three times more likely to be victims of spousal violence than non-Aboriginal women.
And they are significantly over-represented as victims of homicide.
In the past 30 years, there have been nearly 600 cases of missing and murdered Aboriginal women, and the details of each case has been distressing and shocking to Canadians.
Each case is distinct. Each woman was a unique individual with her own story.
Each woman's life came to a tragic and sudden end in a horrifying manner, leaving behind grieving mothers, distraught fathers, traumatized children and other aggrieved loved ones.
What each of them had in common was the fact that they all deserved far better support and security from us to protect them.
Today, I am proud to announce that the Government of Canada is investing in new concrete measures to:
Our plan is a multi-pronged approach, and I'm proud we are introducing concrete measures that will better meet the needs of all Aboriginal women and their families.
First, we are introducing changes to the Criminal Code, that will allow law enforcement officers to obtain multiple warrants for the same crime investigation with a single application to a judge.
These amendments will improve the efficiency of crime investigations, especially those that involve missing and murdered Aboriginal women.
The amendments will also provide authority for wiretapping without a warrant in emergency situations or circumstances - this could include murder or kidnapping investigations relating to missing and murdered Aboriginal women.
Secondly, we are taking a national approach to strengthen our law enforcement capabilities. We're investing in a new National Police Support Centre for Missing Persons, to be based at the RCMP headquarters. We're providing funding to enhance the national police database on missing persons.
We're targeting funds to create a website where the public can provide tips related to missing persons cases. We will also launch a new initiative to bring expertise across jurisdictions to share ideas and information on practices in law enforcement, victim services, Aboriginal community development, and violence reduction that work.
Third, we're investing in new pilot projects and services to support Aboriginal communities and families.
I'm proud that our plan includes a significant investment over two years to help the western provinces develop culturally appropriate victim services and support for community groups to respond to the unique issues faced by the families of missing or murdered Aboriginal women.
We're also introducing new school- and community-based pilot projects that will raise awareness among young Aboriginal women.
And we'll invest in new education materials to help break intergenerational cycles of violence and abuse that threaten Aboriginal communities across Canada.
Finally, we'll provide support over two years for Aboriginal communities and governments to develop community safety plans to improve the safety of women in Aboriginal communities.
This issue is a responsibility that we all share, but by working together we can better address.
Today's announcement includes a number of concrete actions to support governments, Aboriginal groups, law enforcement and other stakeholders in tackling this issue.
Together we can deliver effective and appropriate solutions and through collaborative efforts, we can and we will build the capacity necessary to send a clear and unwavering message: violence against women in Canada will not be tolerated in any community across our great country or against any group of Canadians.
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