October 6, 2014 7:54 pm
Updated: October 7, 2014 10:06 am

Action needed on missing and murdered aboriginal women: police chiefs

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Watch above: action, not inquiry, needed on missing and murdered aboriginal women

SASKATOON – The head of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police (CACP) says while his group is supportive of a national inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women, they don’t want an inquiry to take the place of action.

Speaking Monday on Global Saskatoon’s Morning News, Saskatoon police Chief Clive Weighill says most of the problems are already known.

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“We’re certainly supportive of an inquiry,” said Weighill.

“But we think this has been studied enough, we know what the issues are … as police we see it every day.”

Over the weekend, about 100 ‘Sisters in Spirit’ walks took place across the country, including one in Saskatoon. It’s a way for people to show support for families and friends who’ve lost loved ones to violence.

Many at the marches were calling for a national inquiry.

Weighill says police chiefs are concerned that an inquiry would delay action, especially since it would likely take several years from start to finish.

“An inquiry may help further down the road,” he said.

“But if all our energy gets funneled into an inquiry, we know what happens when an inquiry happens, people say ‘Well let’s wait until after and see what the inquiry tells us,’ and meanwhile people are still in those vulnerable situations.”

Weighill says the problems are well known.

“It’s the issues of poverty, it’s the issues of poor housing, and it’s the issues of racism, disadvantage, that’s putting a lot of aboriginal women in vulnerable situations.”

He says building a response to the problem will take years – and will need involvement by the federal and provincial governments, as well as municipalities and First Nations and Métis leaders.

“It’s a big picture issue,” he said.

“It’s not something that can be solved in one term of government.”

Studies have shown aboriginal women are five times more likely to be murdered than non-aboriginal women. Weighill says social conditions are a huge factor in that because women are placed in vulnerable situations.

In August, Canada’s premiers called for a national inquiry. Stephen Harper has said an inquiry isn’t needed.

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