New Democrats pay tribute to the family members, friends, and the Downtown Eastside community, who have endured much injustice, grieved the loss of a community of women, yet refused to be silenced.
It is important that Commissioner Oppal directly addressed the issues of systemic bias which exacerbated the already-precarious conditions for Aboriginal women in the Downtown Eastside. These women, many of Aboriginal descent were abandoned by a system that was supposed to protect them, with the most tragic consequences.
While the Inquiry had significant shortcomings in scope, process and participation, it must serve as an unequivocal call to action to end the cycle of violence and exclusion that permitted these injustices.
New Democrats are today renewing our call for the Conservative government to launch, in cooperation with Aboriginal women and their representatives, a national public inquiry into the murder and disappearance of Aboriginal women and girls in every part of Canada. This inquiry must deal with the root causes of these tragedies and address not just the violence but the systemic inequalities that have led to the vulnerability and targeting of Aboriginal women across the country.
The Conservative government must heed the Inquiry’s findings and demonstrate a commitment to follow through in a timely and proper way. The typical and failed response Canadians have come to expect from the Conservatives will not change these injustices. The federal government must listen to community voices who know the truth and have an acute understanding of what must be done.
The Official Opposition will continue to speak out on the issue of grievous injustices facing Aboriginal women and respond in a way that acknowledges the historic racism, inequality, poverty, and discrimination endemic to this violence.
The loss of these women is devastating not just to their families and loved ones, but to Canada as a nation.
We will continue to hold the government to account in their memory.
Official Opposition Health critic Libby Davies
Official Opposition Status of Women critic Niki Ashton
Official Opposition Aboriginal Affairs critic Jean Crowder