First I want to thank all of you, as my sisters. You've come together to implement the standing committee. That is to be noted with much appreciation by myself, as the president of the Institute for the Advancement of Aboriginal Women, vice-president of the Métis Nation of Alberta, and chair of the Aboriginal Commission on Human Rights and Justice.
I've been around so long that it scares me, actually. I've seen over the years how both Conservative and the Liberal governments have deliberately underfunded the aboriginal women's anything. We've done reports and reports in this province—and I have to do my reading notes, too. But it was $150,000 for aboriginal women. It was the only program that ever existed for aboriginal women, $150,000 for the province of Alberta. They used to give us half because we're a bigger organization and we reach out to a wide area of women, but now they've divided it up into little pieces so that nobody can accomplish anything.
I must present my written paper.
I want to say that we have made our submission to you, and I have received recognition, the Order of Canada, and been cited at the United Nations for my work in the area of helping aboriginal women, children, and families. I'm very proud of that, but it hasn't changed anything. It has not changed anything. It has not given us one penny more to work with. It has not done a thing, even though I wrote to the minister, and I copied all the ministers, and I pleaded with him to realize the enormity of this situation--the enormity. I'm sure you've heard everyone talk about the enormity of the problem of aboriginal women being denigrated, killed, mutilated, left on a road or in a bush or in a motel or wherever. The slaughter of aboriginal women is what we're talking about, and it comes from the hatred.
I want to give you this example before I go on. The Saskatchewan Police College released posters to be used for target practice by the police in their province. This is a college. It was the image of an aboriginal woman. This was published in the National Post on February 19, 2001. To the uproar that came from many people about this poster that was used for target practice by the police, the response was, “No, no, it wasn't the image of an aboriginal woman; it was a Caucasian lady.” That should all make us feel good, right? They actually put the image of an aboriginal woman on a poster for target practice, and we have the bullet holes still where they had used it. Anne McLellan was the Minister of Justice. I phoned her and she phoned me back and assured me that those posters were removed.
That is the hatred against aboriginal women in a real-life demonstration. That's what we're up against. What I have learned over more than 30 years of working, as I am.... I was left for dead in the back alley of my home. I know whereof I speak, and I can tell you that my conclusion is that aboriginal women live in a country that is hostile to their very existence. That's shown in every statistic you would ever want to look at. And yet the enormity of this situation is not realized.
I want to see--I haven't got to my presentation yet--that every parliamentarian acknowledge that aboriginal women are the victims of the policies of this government, this government and every other government--not only this government but every other government. When I brought to the attention of the minister who responsible for Status of Women--I'll remember her name--I told her that the aboriginal women's program has not received an increase in 30 years, and actually was cut when Paul Martin did the cutting, and she turned to her assistant and said, “Oh, do we have that?” And she said, “Yes.”
She didn't even know there was this tiny, little aboriginal women's program across Canada.
I want to say there was a recommendation to increase the money to the Native Women's Association, but let me tell you, that is not enough. The money needs to go to the communities where the women are suffering; it needs to be brought to where the women are.
As you can see, I am not an impartial or a cool presenter, but I demand that this government and this committee, made up of women whom I consider my sisters, do everything in their power to bring this forward in every possible way.
I had asked Rona Ambrose to be the champion; we have no champion in Parliament. We have no one standing up and saying that aboriginal women must be considered. I had asked Ethel Blondin to be our champion.
Why is this? Would it deter their ability to get promoted? I don't know.
I wanted to spend as much time—