REGINA – Just days after Regina police charged a man in the death of a second Aboriginal woman, a report from the United Nations calls the more than 1,000 cases of missing and murdered Indigenous women in Canada a “disturbing phenomenon”.
In his report released on Monday, the UN special rapporteur, James Anaya, calls for a nationwide inquiry into the issue.
Employees at Regina’s North Central Family Centre work closely with women and young girls – and hear firsthand from families coping with murdered and missing women.
“They need answers,” said Marilyn Anaquod, an elder from the Muskowekwan First Nation who volunteers at the centre. “The not knowing part for the mothers for the families, it’s very hard for them”
“These are faces. They’re not just numbers,” said executive director of the centre, Sandy Wankel. “We need to ensure that the world they are going to grow up in is a safe world that they can realize their dreams.”
An Indigenous studies professor at the First Nations University of Canada, Dr. Andrew Miller, said the report gives us a clear picture of the disconnect in the country.
“It’s the kind of report that I would assign to first year students in Indigenous studies cause it’s solid. It’s a solid report,” Miller.
Miller also said he agrees that there’s a need for a national inquiry: “That the problem persists to me indicates that the right things haven’t been done yet.”
A positive highlighted in the UN report is the database created by the Saskatchewan Association of Chiefs of Police to share information on historical missing persons cases.
In Regina, the victims services unit works with families to help with those questions that can be answered.
“There’s fear for the safety. There’s fear will it happen to somebody else and then there’s rumours based on those fears.” said Rhonda Fiddler, the missing persons liaison with Regina police. “It can have a detrimental effect on the community if supports aren’t in place.”