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If fish deserve inquiry, so do missing women: senator

Brazeau points to report examining salmon crisis

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OTTAWA -- If a national inquiry is warranted to examine a fish crisis, it should be warranted for murdered and missing aboriginal women, a Conservative senator said Tuesday.

In a tweet Tuesday morning, Sen. Patrick Brazeau posted a picture of the 2,500-page inquiry report looking at the decline of the sockeye salmon in the Fraser River in B.C. with the caption:

"Here's the Inquiry on Salmon. Wish we could have the same for our Missing and Murdered Abo-Women!"

Brazeau's tweet added his voice to that of opposition parties and numerous aboriginal groups that have been calling for a national inquiry into the issue of murdered and missing aboriginal women for more than a year.

Proponents of an inquiry say it could shed light on the root causes of the violence, as well as help law enforcement investigate the crimes.

The federal government has resisted the calls.

Brazeau said Tuesday if it's good enough for fish, it should be good enough for aboriginal women.

"If we can have a national inquiry on fish, I'm sure we can give the respect to aboriginal peoples and offer an inquiry," he told the Free Press.

He said two years ago when Ottawa announced a $10-million plan to address the issue, he accepted it did not include an inquiry, but he no longer does.

"Aboriginal women are deserving of this," he said. "I think it would shed a lot of light on what happens when someone goes missing."

He said it might help families of victims get answers to questions and will help educate all Canadians about the issue and the possible solutions.

Brazeau said part of his call stems from his aboriginal heritage and the fact two teenage girls went missing from his own community in 2008.

Research by the Native Women's Association of Canada brought the high rate of violence against aboriginal women to the forefront through its Sisters in Spirit project.

The project suggests as many as 600 aboriginal women have gone missing or been murdered in Canada in the last 40 years. About 75 Manitoba women are on the list.

A spokeswoman for federal Justice Minister Rob Nicholson said Tuesday the government "is already addressing the issue of missing and murdered aboriginal women."

She pointed to $25 million invested between 2010 and 2015 for things such as a new National Centre for Missing Persons, enhancements to the Canadian Police Information Centre database, a new website to match missing persons with unidentified human remains, community and school projects to reduce violence among aboriginal women, community safety plans on reserves and public-awareness campaigns.

mia.rabson@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 7, 2012 A9

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