The unexplained death of a Kamloops First Nation woman has led to another call for a public inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women.
On June 1, ATV riders found a skull in a remote area near Campbell Lake and White Lake, approximately 20 kilometres southeast of Kamloops, B.C. A further search of the area uncovered more skeletal remains from the same person.
'It's a national tragedy but, more importantly, it's a national disgrace.' - Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs
That person was identified last week as 25-year-old Samantha Paul, who was reported missing in September 2013.
The RCMP haven't confirmed foul play in her death, but her family and community are convinced she was murdered.
This week, Paul's family and local chiefs held an emotional press conference at the Kamloops Indian Band office, calling for an inquiry into her death.
Tk'emlups Indian Band Chief Shane Gottfriedson, appearing visibly shaken, said he believes Paul was killed and that women and girls in the community are not safe.
"Our community is small and it is heart-wrenching and appalling to know that a killer walks amongst us free today," he said. "It is very difficult for her family and our people to accept."
The chief said it is tragic that, in the end, Paul's life has been reduced to a number.
"It is my understanding that the homicide rate for indigenous woman in Canada is seven times higher than for non-indigenous women," he said. "Samantha Paul is another woman who is now only a statistic."
Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, said the government must take action and hold an inquiry looking into not only Paul's fate, but also the larger question of why so many aboriginal women are going missing and turning up murdered in Canada.
"It's a national tragedy but, more importantly, it's a national disgrace," he said.
"We are absolutely outraged that the Harper government refuses to agree to a national inquiry."