Stephen Harper's refusal of national inquiry shows Canada's 'shame': Métis leader
Prime minister says deaths, disappearances of aboriginal women are 'crime,' not 'sociological phenomenon'
The death of an aboriginal teenager in Winnipeg this week is once again prompting demands for a national inquiry into missing and murdered women in Canada.
Tina Fontaine's body was found in a bag in the Red River on Sunday and police are treating her death as a homicide.
Despite Canada's premiers and territorial leaders endorsing calls for a public inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women last year, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said on Thursday that the issue should not be viewed as a sociological phenomenon, but rather as crime.
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At a rally in Edmonton on Friday, dozens came out to show their support for calls for a national inquiry and to demand justice for aboriginal women.
"It's the shame of Canada now that people realize what's happening in this beautiful country," said Muriel Stanley Venne, a human rights activist and Métis leader in Edmonton. "This is my country and I'm ashamed of the fact that there's so many of our women that are murdered on a kind of regular basis."
It's the shame of Canada now that people realize what's happening in this beautiful country.- Muriel Stanley Venne, human rights activist and Métis leader
Venne wasn't alone in her condemnation of the prime minister.
On Friday, the premiers of both Ontario and Manitoba added their voices to those blasting Harper over his refusal, saying he missed the point, and the Canadian Human Rights Commission also called for a national inquiry.
"This is not acceptable in a country like Canada," said David Langtry, acting chief commissioner of the Canadian Human Rights Commission in a statement on Tuesday. "It is time for a full public inquiry into the root causes of so many deaths and disappearances of aboriginal women and girls. It is time for a national action plan to confront this issue."
In May, the RCMP issued a detailed statistical breakdown of 1,181 cases since 1980. It said aboriginal women make up 4.3 per cent of the Canadian population, but account for 16 per cent of female homicides and 11.3 per cent of missing women.
Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne said on Friday that Harper is refusing to hold a national inquiry because the results could bring to light the societal issues plaguing Canada's aboriginal people and the federal government's responsibility to fix them.
Federal Justice Minister Peter MacKay says the Harper government is focusing on addressing the issue through aboriginal justice programs and a national missing persons DNA index.
Tina Fontaine, 15, was from the Sagkeeng First Nation in Manitoba and had been in Winnipeg less than a month when she ran away from foster care.