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Whitehorse joins call for missing and murdered aboriginal women

Whitehorse city council didn't waste time on Monday night, throwing unanimous support behind a national inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women.

Whitehorse city council didn’t waste time on Monday night, throwing unanimous support behind a national inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women.

The resolution was put forward to city council by the Canadian Coalition of Municipalities Against Racism and Discrimination Advisory Committee.

In May, the RCMP released a report that showed a disproportionate number of female homicide victims in Canada are aboriginal. The report found that while only 4.3 per cent of the total female population is aboriginal, they account for 16 per cent of total female homicides.

The report came out three months after the Native Women’s Association of Canada delivered a petition of more than 23,000 signatures to Ottawa, calling for a national public inquiry into the cases of more than 600 missing and murdered aboriginal women.

“This is a national tragedy that can no longer be ignored,” association president Michele Audette said at the time.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has said he’s skeptical that such an inquiry would shed any new light on the problem. However, Yukon’s Conservative MP, Ryan Leef, has thrown his support behind an inquiry, in a rare break with his party.

The resolution, presented at city council, stated, “it has been clearly demonstrated that aboriginal women in Canada are disproportionately represented in statistics of murdered and missing persons, and Whitehorse as a community has been directly affected by this tragedy.”

Coun. Kirk Cameron spoke first, saying, “Whitehorse city council supports the efforts of aboriginal women’s groups and the RCMP to develop a plan of action to address the root causes of this epidemic and put a stop to it.”

Coun. John Streicker commended the committee for putting the resolution forward.

“This is the first thing that the committee has brought forward and I think it’s a good thing, he said. “Our MP has stated he’s supportive of this, the RCMP are supportive, and aboriginal groups are supportive of it.”

“This is not just something that is happening somewhere else. This is happening right here,” said Coun. Jocelyn Curteanu.

“I really want people to see that the city of Whitehorse isn’t blind to this and sees the importance of putting this resolution forward.”

Cameron added that “city has an opportunity here” to be part of something larger and more substantive and help bring change into society.

“I would like to find out why, at the federal level, they’ve refused this,” said Coun. David Stockdale. “I think this is a good move on our part.”

Coun. Betty Irwin noted that violence against women affects all aspects of society, and spoke of the city’s need for further housing and support services.

“This is a great first step for the committee,” she said.

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