Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger says Prime Minister Stephen Harper is missing the point when it comes to murdered and missing aboriginal women.

The death of 15-year-old Tina Fontaine reignited calls for an inquiry. Fontaine was found in a bag in the Red River on Aug. 15. Police believe she was killed.

On Thursday, Harper rebuffed calls to launch a national inquiry in to murdered and missing aboriginal women, calling the disappearances and deaths a “crime” rather than a “sociological phenomenon.”

Selinger wasn’t impressed.
“As Canadians, I believe we want to look after each other, and I think we want to protect the most vulnerable, especially missing and murdered aboriginal women from being victimized,” said Selinger. “It’s an issue that affects communities all across Canada.”

All of Canada’s provinces and territories have endorsed calls for a national inquiry, but the Conservative government has so far rejected the idea.

Winnipeg children call for inquiry

A group of young people gathered at Portage Avenue and Main Street Friday afternoon to call on the Canadian government to launch a national inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women.

Kendall Wood, MMIW activist

Kendall Wood, 14, works on a sign ahead of a rally urging Prime Minister Stephen Harper to call a national inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women. (Meagan Fiddler/CBC)

“Children should be saying it too. Just because the adults say it doesn’t mean the kids can’t say it because it’s already been taken care of. Kids can still step up and do what they can,” said Kendal Wood, a 14-year-old boy who organized the Children Fighting to Keep Our Girls Safe rally.

Wood said he organized the rally after hearing of Fontaine's death.

“When I heard she was found in a river in a bag – when I heard that, that’s when I thought I had to try to do something,” said Wood.

He said too many young aboriginal women are going missing or being murdered. He wants a national inquiry and won’t accept Harper’s refusal to launch one.

The rally took over major intersections in Winnipeg Friday afternoon, and attracted adults and children of all ages.

 Cedar Mainville, Winnipeg MMIW rally

Nine-year-old Cedar Mainville came out to lend her voice to the chorus calling for an inquiry. Her aunt's death was deemed a suicide but her family fears she was killed. (Meagan Fiddler/CBC)

Nine-year-old Cedar Mainville came out to lend her voice to the chorus calling for an inquiry.

“I’m here for justice for our missing and murdered indigenous women,” said Mainville.

Her aunt’s death was deemed a suicide, but her family believes she was murdered.

Emma Arnott, 18, said attention needs to be brought to how vulnerable young women can be.

“Other youth, they won’t listen to adults,” said Arnott. “They’ll listen to other youth.”

Arnott said she was a troubled youth who would run away, and she wants leaders to work on ways to help young women.

For Wood, the message is simple. He wants Harper to help “keep our girls safe.”