Debates of the Senate (Hansard)

1st Session, 41st Parliament,
Volume 148, Issue 87

Thursday, June 7, 2012
The Honourable Noël A. Kinsella, Speaker

Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development

Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women and Girls

Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer: Honourable senators, my question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. According to the Native Women’s Association of Canada, there are over 582 missing and murdered Aboriginal women in our country. It is my belief that the fact that many of these stories go untold and that almost all of these cases remain unsolved is a testament to the discrimination many Aboriginal women in Canada continue to face. I cannot begin to imagine the pain and suffering that a family must endure, knowing that their loved one is missing but not being able to access justice.

What is our government doing to ensure that the families of the missing and murdered Aboriginal women do not have to deal with this pain and suffering in isolation?

Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, we are all watching the proceedings taking place in the honourable senator’s home province as we speak. As we have all communicated in the past, this is a dreadful situation. No one should have to go through their life with this hanging over their head and feeling that society is not paying the attention to this serious issue that it should.

Since we have come into government, and more recently, we have taken a number of concrete steps. We have created a new RCMP centre for missing persons. We have improved law enforcement databases to investigate missing and murdered women. We have boosted victim services and supported the creation of community and educational Aboriginal safety plans. We also created a national website for public tips to help in the investigation and location of missing women.

These are all necessary steps, honourable senators. One missing or murdered Aboriginal woman is one too many. We will continue to work diligently with our provincial and territorial counterparts to combat this serious problem.

Senator Jaffer: As the leader knows, I have asked this question in the past and am waiting for answers. I am not asking these questions only for my province, but for all the Western provinces.

What is our government doing to ensure that the families of the victims are given a voice? What specific resources are these families getting to ensure that they get access to justice for their loved ones?

Senator LeBreton: That is a good question, honourable senators. I appreciate the importance of victims’ being given every opportunity. With regard to financial support for specific programs, I will take the honourable senator’s question as notice and respond with a written reply.