PM Justin Trudeau faces tough questions about missing and murdered indigenous women
'Indigenous lives matter,' says Trudeau in interview with First Nations youth advocate
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was grilled about the country's response to missing and murdered indigenous women in a CBC forum on Sunday night.
Trudeau spoke about the issue in response to questions from Nikki Fraser, 25, a youth representative from the B.C. Native Women's Association.
"I want to know what you, as a prime minister, will do to prevent this from happening again," an emotional Fraser asked.
"Because I have a daughter who's indigenous, she's beautiful."
With tears in her eyes, Fraser also showed the prime minister photographs of her aunt and cousin, both indigenous women who have gone missing.
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The event involved Trudeau taking questions from a number of people — picked by the public broadcaster — who queried the prime minister on topics including the economy, terrorism and relations with indigenous people.
'Indigenous lives matter'
Trudeau said "indigenous lives matter," and he promised major changes will be made in Canada's relationship with indigenous people.
"This office, this place, this parliament, has failed indigenous peoples in this country for a long, long time," Trudeau said.
He said some of those changes will take years, and in some case decades, but he vowed that life will get better for aboriginal people.
Trudeau said the first order of business will be to fulfil his promise of an inquiry into murdered and missing aboriginal women that will hear from everybody involved, especially the victims' families.
Fraser asked Trudeau what he would do to improve how RCMP deal with cases of missing and murdered women.
"How are you going to get the RCMP to care about indigenous people, but especially us indigenous women?" Fraser asked.
In response, the prime minister spoke of a "pervasive culture" in police forces, governments and religious communities that has led to indigenous people being less valued.
"There are big changes to make, institutionally, right across the board," the prime minister said.
In December 2015, RCMP commissioner Bob Paulson made a similar surprising admission.
I understand that there are racists in my police force. I don't want them to be in my police force," Paulson said to chiefs and other First Nations delegates gathered in Gatineau, Que., for an annual three-day meeting organized by the Assembly of First Nations.
With files from the Canadian Press