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Winnipeg becomes first city to back inquiry on aboriginal women

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 24/9/2014 (1518 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Winnipeg became the first major municipality to join the call for a national inquiry into murdered and missing Indigenous women.

Council voted 14-1 Wednesday in support of the motion from St. Boniface Coun. Dan Vandal.

“This is simple advocacy for people we represent,” Vandal told reporters during a break from Wednesday’s council meeting. “We have to do everything we can to bring this issue to the forefront.”

The three-part motion drew near unanimous support from all members of council, several who referred to the unsolved murder of aboriginal teen Tina Fontaine and the vigil to mourn her death that attracted thousands.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 24/9/2014 (1518 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Dan Vandal

BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES

Dan Vandal

Winnipeg became the first major municipality to join the call for a national inquiry into murdered and missing Indigenous women.

Council voted 14-1 Wednesday in support of the motion from St. Boniface Coun. Dan Vandal. 

"This is simple advocacy for people we represent," Vandal told reporters during a break from Wednesday’s council meeting. "We have to do everything we can to bring this issue to the forefront."

The three-part motion drew near unanimous support from all members of council, several who referred to the unsolved murder of aboriginal teen Tina Fontaine and the vigil to mourn her death that attracted thousands.

"We’ve all been to too many vigils," Vandal said. "This city is reeling."

Vandal’s motion was amended by Mayor Sam Katz, who would only support it if it included a proposal for a $150,000 grant to keep an Aboriginal youth drop-in centre open.

Katz said there has been too much talk about the issues facing aboriginal people and very little action. He said he would only support Vandal’s motion if it was accompanied by a concrete proposal to help the city’s aboriginal youth.

Vandal’s motion also called on the Winnipeg Police Service to make solving and preventing the murder of aboriginal women and girls a priority.

"Unlike a few individuals in this country, I do not believe this is solely a police issue," said Vandal, who is not running for council but will contest for the St. Boniface riding for the Liberals in the next federal election.

"A national inquiry will offer an honest, difficult dialogue," he said. "It will give a voice to those that are now voiceless."

Coun. Ross Eadie struggled with his emotions as he said there are too many groups struggling to deliver preventative programs to the Aboriginal community without adequate funding.

Some of the harshest words came from Coun. Justin Swandel, one of the more pragmatic members of council, who said aboriginal people subject to the Indian Act have been victims of socio-economic genocide.

"We have people dying in this country and it’s got to stop," Swandel (St. Norbert) said. "We need to do something on a national level to begin to address why that’s happening."

Only Coun. Jeff Browaty voted against Vandal’s motion. While Browaty (North Kildonan) did support Katz’s amendment for the youth drop-in funding, he later voted against Vandal’s amended motion, arguing that no one on council is qualified to determine if a national inquiry should be held.

Vandal said he was disappointed that Browaty opposed the motion. 

"The important part is it was near unanimous and we’re the first major city to actually endorse this," Vandal said. "Hopefully we’re not the last."

 

aldo.santin@freepress.mb.ca

 

Aldo Santin

Aldo Santin
Reporter

Aldo Santin is a veteran newspaper reporter who first carried a pen and notepad in 1978 and joined the Winnipeg Free Press in 1986, where he has covered a variety of beats and specialty areas including education, aboriginal issues, urban and downtown development. Santin has been covering city hall since 2013.

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History

Updated on Wednesday, September 24, 2014 at 1:48 PM CDT: Changes photo

5:22 PM: Write-thru

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