Nine of Canada’s provinces called for a national inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women across the country in an announcement in Winnipeg Wednesday.
The call came following a meeting of aboriginal affairs ministers from every province and territory except British Columbia.
"We jointly call upon the federal government to call a national inquiry into this matter of missing and murdered aboriginal women and girls," said Manitoba’s Aboriginal Affairs Minister Eric Robinson, chairman of the working group of the provincial and territorial aboriginal affairs representatives.
It is the first time Canada’s provinces have issued a joint call into the disappearance and murders of an estimated 600 aboriginal women in Canada. There are 80 missing and murdered aboriginal women in Manitoba, according to aboriginal groups.
Robinson, flanked by his counterparts, stressed that the collective announcement means Canada’s provinces and territories are taking the stand along with the leaders of Canada’s national aboriginal organizations, who have repeatedly called on Ottawa to set up such an inquiry.
"This is a really significant move," Robinson said. "Every province and territory is doing something on its own but as aboriginal ministers and leaders of national aboriginal organizations, we’ve never gone down this road together where we’re collective in our voice," Robinson said.
As chairman of the group, Robinson said he’s been instructed to issue the call to Ottawa in a formal letter he will send within the next day or two. The provinces are also asking that Ottawa consult with them, the territories and Canada’s five national aboriginal organizations to set the terms of reference for an inquiry.
Parliament agreed to appoint a special committee on the matter of missing and murder aboriginal women, but so far the federal government has resisted calls for a national inquiry.