Canada has launched a long-awaited inquiry into the murder or disappearance of hundreds of indigenous women and girls.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised a “total renewal” of the country’s relationship with its aboriginal population.
The move marks a political U-turn from the policies of Stephen Harper, Trudeau’s predecessor.
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Harper refused to launch an investigation into the murders and missing people despite the UN voicing its concerns over the disproportionate number of cases.
Press TV reports:
“The victims deserve justice, their families an opportunity to heal and to be heard,” said Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau while attending the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) Special Chiefs Assembly in Gatineau, Quebec, on Tuesday.
While stressing the need for “a total renewal between Canada and First Nations people,” Trudeau noted that the victims and their families “deserve justice.”
During the years between 1980 and 2013, almost 1,200 cases of murdered or missing aboriginal women were logged with the Canadian police.
According to reports by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, aboriginal women represent 4.3 percent of the total female population, but 16 percent of all female murder cases are from the country’s indigenous population.
“We recognize that a number of factors, like racism, marginalization, sexism, and poverty have contributed to the ongoing tragedy of murdered and missing indigenous women and girls,” said the Minister of the Status of Women, Patty Hajdu.
Trudeau is the first prime minister in recent memory to take part in such an event.
“You have made a great start in changing the relationship, prime minister,” said Perry Bellegarde, the national chief of the Assembly of First Nations.