Canada’s $10 Million plan to address the crisis of missing and murdered Aboriginal women
October 30, 2010 – Canada’s $10 Million plan to address the crisis of missing and murdered Aboriginal women was welcomed by Jeannette Corbiere Lavell, president of the Native Women’s Association. “We are hopeful this funding will make a meaningful difference by improving policing and community responses to violence, creating better services for families of missing and murdered women, and increasing access to justice for Aboriginal women and girls.”
To stress the importance of this funding, President Corbiere Lavell made this important comparison: “To understand the crisis of missing and murdered Aboriginal women, we must place the number in context. If we were talking about the number (582) as a proportion of all women in Canada we would be talking about approximately 19,400 missing and murdered women. This funding is critical to responding to the gaps in the police and justice systems, as well as the needs of Aboriginal women, families, and communities.”
There now is substance to the $10 million for the crisis of missing and murdered Aboriginal women, announced in the federal budget more than six months ago. On Friday, the Government of Canada unveiled its seven step plan, to spend the money on new tools for law enforcement, and to improve the justice system and victims’ services.
“The disturbing issue of missing and murdered Aboriginal women is one of serious concern and, as Canadians, we know Aboriginal women deserve respect, dignity and the right to feel safe,” said Rona Ambrose, Minister of Public Works and Government Services and Minister for Status of Women. The $10 million will be spent over two years to improve community safety and to ensure that the justice system and law enforcement agencies can better respond to cases of missing and murdered Aboriginal women.
-A new National Police Support Centre for Missing Persons to help police forces across Canada by providing coordination and specialized support in missing persons investigations; A national “tip” Web site for missing persons; Enhancing the Canadian Police Information Centre database to capture additional missing persons data; Amendments to the Criminal Code to streamline the warrants application process where wiretaps are required in missing person cases; and A comprehensive list of best practices to help communities, law enforcement and justice partners in future work.
The measures will also improve: Federal funding for culturally appropriate victims services through provinces and territories; as well as funding for Aboriginal groups to help the families of missing and murdered Aboriginal women; New awareness materials, pilot projects and new school- and community-based pilot projects targeted to young Aboriginal women; and New community safety plans to be developed to enhance the safety of women living in Aboriginal communities. Aboriginal women (First Nations, Inuit, Metis and non- status Indians), are three and one-half times more likely to experience violent victimization than non-Aboriginal women.
Aboriginal women report higher rates of violence committed by strangers and more serious forms of family violence. They are significantly over-represented as victims of homicide and are also three times more likely to be victims of spousal violence than non-Aboriginal women.
Here are the concrete steps to address the issue of missing and murdered Aboriginal women. 1) $4-million for the RCMP to establish a National Police Support Centre for Missing Persons, including one resource, linked to National Aboriginal Policing Services, specifically dedicated to the issue of missing and murdered Aboriginal women; enhance the Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC) to capture additional missing persons data; create a national registry for missing persons and unidentified remains so police have more comprehensive information on missing persons across jurisdictions; and create a national Web site to encourage the public to provide tips and information on missing persons cases and unidentified human remains.
2) The Department of Justice will introduce amendments to the Criminal Code to streamline the application process when specific court orders or warrants need to be issued in relation to an investigation for which a judge has given a wiretap authorization. Currently, a law enforcement officer may make multiple appearances before different judges to obtain authority to use these related investigative techniques. This amendment will improve the efficiency of investigations into serious crimes, including those that involve missing and murdered Aboriginal women. Other amendments will be proposed to section 184.4 of the Criminal Code, which provides authority for wiretapping without a warrant in emergencies (exigent circumstances).
These circumstances can include murder or kidnapping investigations relating to missing and murdered Aboriginal women. The amendments being proposed would enhance privacy safeguards by, among other things, adding notification and reporting requirements to section 184.4. The notification amendment would require notice to be given in writing to persons who were the object of an interception under this provision.
The reporting amendment would require an annual report to be prepared on the use of electronic surveillance under this provision.
3) In addition, the Department of Justice will provide $1 million to support the development of school- and community-based pilot projects to help heal, move forward and provide alternatives to high-risk behaviour for young Aboriginal women, including young offenders. The overall goal of the initiative will be to reduce the vulnerability of young Aboriginal women to violence.
4) Funds will be added to the Department of Justice’s Victims Fund to help the western provinces develop or adapt victim services for Aboriginal people and specific culturally sensitive victim services for families of missing and murdered Aboriginal women. Additional investments in the Victims Fund will also be made available to Aboriginal community groups to respond to the unique issues faced by the families of missing or murdered Aboriginal women at the community level. This funding will total approximately $2.15 million over two years.
5) Public Safety Canada will provide $1.5 million over two years to develop community safety plans to improve the safety of Aboriginal women within Aboriginal communities. Community safety plans will be developed by Aboriginal communities with the support of the Government of Canada to improve community safety and wellness. The information gathered from this process will help the Government of Canada improve its programs and services and better respond to community issues.
6) In 2010-2011, the Justice Partnership and Innovation Fund will also make available approximately $850,000 to develop materials for the public on the importance of breaking intergenerational cycles of violence and abuse that threaten Aboriginal communities across Canada. This funding will be made available to Aboriginal organizations and Public Legal Education groups working with Aboriginal groups.
7) The Department of Justice will also invest almost $500,000 in the development of a national compendium of promising practices in the area of law enforcement and the justice system to help Aboriginal communities and groups improve the safety of Aboriginal women across the country. These “best pr actices” will be identified in a number of fields: law enforcement, victim services, Aboriginal community development and violence reduction.