Mr. Speaker, it is estimated that since the 1960s, nearly 600 aboriginal women have been murdered or gone missing in Canada. The Native Women's Association of Canada says that many cases were not documented and that this sad finding is probably much higher than it appears.
Therefore, the precise number of missing and murdered women remains a mystery, since the RCMP does not compile data on murdered women according to their ethnic origin.
As part of the Sisters in Spirit research and education project, the Native Women's Association of Canada has collected information on the disproportionate number of missing and murdered aboriginal women and girls in Canada. The final report of this research project referred to the disappearance or death of over 580 aboriginal women and girls in Canada since 1960.
According to the report, 153 of these victims were murdered between 2000 and 2008. Therefore, in eight years, 153 aboriginal women have been murdered. Compared with non-aboriginal women, aboriginal women are more likely to be victims of homicide. They represent about 10% of the total number of female homicide victims in Canada, although they make up only 3% of all women in the country. They are also at greater risk of being murdered by a stranger, and what is truly horrible, their murderers are much less likely to be convicted.
The Native Women's Association of Canada is not the only organization speaking out against this situation. Amnesty International has issued two reports—one in 2004 and another in 2009—on the issue of missing and murdered aboriginal women, and those reports talked about the need to protect their rights.
In October 2008, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women urged Canada to look into the cases of missing and murdered aboriginal women and to take the necessary steps to remedy the deficiencies in the system. That is serious.
In February 2013, the Canadian Association of Statutory Human Rights Agencies, the umbrella organization for the federal, provincial and territorial human rights commissions, urged Canada to establish an independent and inclusive inquiry into missing and murdered Aboriginal women and girls in Canada.
More recently, in October 2013, the UN special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples asked Canada to take action. James Anaya called on the federal government to launch a national inquiry and said that Canada “faces a crisis when it comes to the situation of indigenous peoples”.
I believe that it is high time to shed light on this matter. The families have the right to know. Not only will this commission of inquiry allow us to understand what is happening but, more importantly, it will ensure that it never happens again.