Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise and speak to the motion brought forward by my colleague, the member for St. Paul's, who is also the aboriginal affairs critic for the Liberal caucus. The motion was seconded by my colleague, the member for Etobicoke North, who happens to be the critic for the Status of Women in the Liberal caucus.
My colleagues have come to the House of Commons today, asking that there be an inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women and girls, simply because it is what Canadians are asking for. Over the number of years that we have sat in the House of Commons, going back to the Sisters in Spirit report in 2009, people across Canada have asked for an inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women and girls.
Today, while we still have many victims and their families out there, while we still have people grieving for their lost ones, while we still have indigenous leaders, advocates, the international community and every provincial and territorial government asking for this, including members in our caucus in the House of Commons, the government continues to refuse to act on those requests and recommendations.
This is a very serious issue, one that has affected many indigenous women and girls in our country. In fact, if we were looking at this from an international perspective, Canadians all across the country would be saying that this was unbelievable and that something needed to be done.
It is no different in Canada. It is hard to imagine that we have so many indigenous women and girls who are being abused, murdered and are victims of violence, yet we see no action to call an inquiry into the root causes of this problem.
Just a while ago, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission released 94 recommendations. Those recommendations were with regard to the unfinished journey of healing and reconciliation for indigenous people. In that report, there was also a call to action for government. It called on the government, in consultation with aboriginal organizations, to appoint a public inquiry into the causes of, and remedies for, the victimization of aboriginal women and girls.
Recommendation 41 of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission report directly asks the Government of Canada to do this. It asks the government to investigate missing and murdered aboriginal women and girls, and to look at links to the intergenerational legacy of residential schools.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission did not make the decisions of the report lightly. It did so after tremendous thought and insight, and after tremendous consultation and input. This is what it firmly believes as indigenous people in Canada.
In addition, we have had so many more speak out. We have heard from the victims and families. In my riding, the life of a young woman by the name of Loretta Saunders was taken. Her sister, Delilah Saunders, a brave young woman, stood for her sister to call for an inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women. She stood with her mother who called for an inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women. She stood with many others across Canada. Unfortunately, their voices are still not being heard by the Conservative government.
What about the family of Bernice Rich, a young Inuit woman from Natuashish? She was murdered in her neighbouring community of Sheshatshiu. Her life was taken for no reason? Why? Because she was an aboriginal woman? Is her life not more valuable or as valuable as all others?
That is the sad commentary, when a murderer is on trial and can give no reason. There was absolutely no reason why this young women was victimized, terrorized and murdered.
I would challenge the government to view the Highway of Tears, which my colleague from St. Paul's had invited so many members to do. I went to that viewing and I saw the numbers of women who were missing or whose lives were lost on the Highway of Tears. I sat in that room that evening with family members who were grieving. In their grief they are looking for healing, and in that healing they are looking for action from the Government of Canada. It is so sad to look into their eyes and faces. It is so sad to look at them when they tell us the stories of the many women who have been lost and murdered yet there has been no action to get to the root of the problem.
We know that this can be changed. We live in a society of hope. We live in a society where we know that change can happen, but that change takes all of us working together to make that difference. The government has not been prepared to work to make that difference despite the fact that in May 2014 the RCMP released a report which identified almost 1,200 indigenous women and girls who had gone missing or had been murdered since 1980 in Canada. It also noted that despite the fact that indigenous women represented only 4% of women in Canada, this demographic accounted for 8% of female homicide victims in 1984 and a staggering 23% by 2012.
As of 2012, one in four female homicide victims in this country is indigenous. Last summer, in the wake of the Tina Fontaine murder in Winnipeg, which we are all very much aware of, and on which my colleague, the member for Winnipeg North, has risen in this House in previous days to ask questions, we heard the Prime Minister's insensitive comment when he said, “we should not view this as sociological phenomenon” and dismissed the root causes as part of the problem. How can he do that when he leads a country where 1,200 indigenous women and girls have gone missing? How can he say that when we have seen the percentage of indigenous women go from 8% of those female victims of homicide to 23% in just a few years? How can he say that when he looks at the families of Tina Fontaine, Loretta Saunders, Bernice Rich, and of so many more?
It gets worse because as the families of missing and murdered indigenous women and girls have been clear that they have not been listened to, treated with respect or felt supported by the government opposite, the Prime Minister then made another shocking admission during his year-end interview with Peter Mansbridge when he said that this issue is not high on his radar. He not only shocked the families that are grieving and suffering the loss of loved ones, but he shocked the nation, a nation that feels that there should be an inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women and girls, a nation that feels that getting to the root causes of this would change it, a nation that lives in hope for action.
We call upon the members of the House of Commons to support this motion that has been brought forward by the member for St. Paul's and by the Liberal caucus. We ask that members support an inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women and girls in this country. Just as every province, territory, civil organization, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and many families have already asked for, we once again make that plea to the House of Commons.