Protesters have put up about a dozen tents in Winnipeg’s Memorial Park, calling on national leaders to launch an inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women.
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“We are getting angry, and we are sick of people hurting our children, our women and our men,” said Sandy Banman, who was one of the first protesters to arrive late last week.
The “peace campout” started Thursday, just days after the killing of 15-year-old Tina Fontaine sparked renewed calls for an inquiry.
Fontaine was found dead in a bag in the Red River of Aug. 15 after running away from her foster home weeks earlier.
Last week, Prime Minister Stephen Harper quickly dismissed calls for an inquiry, saying the disappearances and deaths were a “crime against innocent people” and, “We should not view this as a sociological phenomenon.”
Several political leaders have spoken out in favour of an inquiry in the past two weeks, including several premiers and many First Nations leaders.
Federal Liberal leader Justin Trudeau called Harper’s stance on an inquiry “out of touch,” last week.
“I think if Canadians stand up and say, “No. This is wrong. We want something concrete. We want a clear road map that would come from a national inquiry,’ then the prime minister will change his tune,” said Wab Kinew, the director of Indigenous Inclusion at the University of Winnipeg.
Banman said many of the people participating in Winnipeg’s protest have lost loved ones.
“Everything needs a complete overhaul in order to get that healing,” said Banman. “That’s why we want a national inquiry, so we can start at the beginning where the roots are. So we can go forward and change the legislation and policies.”
Banman said the group does not know how long the campout will last.