Alberta welcomes inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women

EDMONTON — The federal government announced plans Tuesday for the first phase of its inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women in Canada.

“We have made this inquiry a priority for our government because those touched by this national tragedy have waited long enough,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said. “The victims deserve justice, their families an opportunity to heal and to be heard. We must work together to put an end to this ongoing tragedy.”

READ MORE: Liberals launch first phase of inquiry into missing, murdered indigenous women

Calls for a national inquiry into the issue have been growing since a 2014 RCMP review found that roughly 1,200 indigenous women have been murdered or gone missing since 1980. Of those, 164 are still missing and 1,017 are confirmed homicide victims.

Here in Alberta, 206 aboriginal women were killed between 1980 and 2012, which accounts for 28 per cent of all female homicides in the province during that time frame. As of November 2013, 28 of the homicides have gone unsolved and 19 women are still missing.

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One of those cases is Amber Tuccaro. The 20-year-old Fort Chipewyan woman was last seen getting into an unknown man’s vehicle during a visit to Edmonton in August 2010. Her remains were found two years later in a field on a rural property near Leduc. No arrests have ever been made.

READ MORE: RCMP acknowledge first stages of Amber Tuccaro investigation were mishandled

Earlier this year, after more human remains were found in the same area, RCMP said they may be searching for a serial killer. Rachelle Venne with the Institute for the Advancement of Aboriginal Women thought people would be outraged but said she was shocked by the silence.

“The situation is gigantic and it is a travesty, so I think moving forward on what do we do as a community, what do we do as a country is just so much needed,” Venne said.

Alberta’s NDP government also called for an inquiry. On Tuesday, Premier Rachel Notley said her government welcomes Trudeau’s commitment to a renewed relationship between Canada and indigenous peoples.

“These families need to be heard and they need to heal. We will be following the development of the national inquiry with great interest,” Notley said in a statement. “We must openly and honestly acknowledge and address the root causes that place indigenous females at the highest risk – harsh realities like poverty, racism, and inadequate housing.”

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The Metis Child & Family Services Society tracks 850 Alberta women involved in high-risk lifestyles. This year, the group says it knows of four women who have been murdered.

In their election platform, the Liberals promised to spend $40 million over two years on the examination.

With files from Andrew Russell, Kendra Slugoski Global News.