Open Letter to Prime Minister Harper Regarding a National Inquiry into Murdered and Missing First Nations Women – Shawn M. Brant, February 10, 2014 –

14 Feb

Open Letter to Prime Minister Harper Regarding a National Inquiry into Murdered and Missing First Nations Women

– Shawn M. Brant, February 10, 2014 –

Dear Stephen Harper,

I am writing in regards to a mandate issued from the Mohawk Community of Tyendinaga, dated October 27th 2013, requiring your cooperation for the facilitation of a national inquiry into the circumstances of murdered and missing First Nations Women.

We had anticipated that the government of Canada would have voluntarily asserted its responsibility and made such an announcement during last years Speech From The Throne. While a minor reference was directed to the issue, in the form of the government’s intention to strengthen anti-prostitution laws, we felt that this served little comfort and reflected the ignorance of your administration in understanding the scope and severity of the crisis.

In a report, published in September 2013 by MaryAnne Pearce and recently obtained by the RCMP, some 824 First Nations women have now been identified as having been murdered or gone missing, with a majority of those cases documented as having occurred in the past 15 years.

Placing that number into perspective, the National Native Women’s Association has determined that 67% of all cases initially reported have concluded in the verifiable death of the person. Accordingly, based on the data provided in the Pearce report, 552 women identified have been murdered while 272 remain missing and whose remains have not yet been recovered.

Your suggestion that strengthening Canada’s prostitution laws will serve to reduce this phenomenon is disturbing and simply intended to negatively influence the opinion of other Canadians into believing that First Nations Women are somehow responsible for their own victimization.

It is a well established fact, and confirmed by the Pearce report, that only 20% of the women identified had ever engaged in any “risky behavior” including the sex trade.

Having regard for all the facts, your contempt and disrespect for First Nations women is both blatant and obvious.

If we were to exclude, from the overall numbers, those persons involved in “risky behavior” assuming that they are unworthy of justice, there remains 442 women who have been confirmed as having been murdered who have never engaged in any behavior that is inconsistent with your values, and who are equally deserving of the same protections afforded to every woman in Canada.

Your unwillingness to consider this first step at reconciliation is well documented and understood.

It is our opinion that all diplomatic means to convince you of the need for an inquiry have failed. Further, the tears and sadness of the families left behind have not moved you to any position of compassion.

We have therefore resolved that we will take whatever and further actions that are deemed necessary, to compel you to call a National Inquiry into the crisis of Murdered and Missing Aboriginal Women and Girls.

Respectfully submitted,

Shawn M. Brant

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