Councillors back motion for inquiry into murdered, missing women
A motion for the City of Winnipeg to endorse a national public inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women — and for city police to do all they can to investigate and solve those cases — was passed nearly unanimously on Wednesday.
All councillors present but one, Jeff Browaty, supported the motion, put forward by Coun. Dan Vandal.
Browaty said he has concerns about the cost to put more resources into the issue.
He later told CBC News in an email that "the loss of any man, woman or child is tragic," but he was making the point that councillors "don't have enough background on this subject to understand whether the investment in an inquiry is necessary when many previous reports have looked at the issue."
"I argued that spending this money might not be the best use when it could help provide job training or benefit in ways already identified," he added.
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In presenting the motion, Vandal said an inquiry will open wounds but will also come up with solutions.
"Those are going to be hard and difficult discussions, Madam Speaker. But those are hard and difficult discussions that we need to have in an open, honest way so that people and institutions are held to account," he said.
Vandal said it's time for the city to add its voice to the growing number of people and governments calling for an inquiry.
"Unlike a few individuals in this country, I do not believe that this is solely a police issue. The solutions need to come from within the indigenous community; the solutions need to come from within our communities."
"I think everybody came to the realization that this was the right thing to do, so I'm very happy," he said.
St. Norbert Coun. Justin Swandel said it wasn't a tough decision.
"We talked a lot about it like it's an aboriginal issue, but it's a people issue, it's a human being issue," he said.
"Everybody's children should have the same opportunity as anyone, end of story," said Mayor Sam Katz at his last council meeting. "And right now that is not the case."
Vandal acknowledged Browaty's concerns about jurisdiction, but he said it really boils down to showing leadership.
"At the end of the day, when you think about it intelligently, who wouldn't support this?" he said. "There's a horrible phenomenon going on in Canada and we have to do all things necessary to try and affect change in a positive way."