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Canadian MPs to Study Violence Against Aboriginal Women

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Members of Canada’s parliamentary Committee on the Status of Women will fan out across the nation over the next two weeks to investigate the scope of violence against aboriginal women, the Vancouver Sun reported on Jan. 5.

Six MPs will visit up to seven cities between Jan 11 and 14 and from Jan 17 through 21: Prince Albert, Sask.; Sioux Lookout and Thunder Bay, Ontario; Winnipeg, and Vancouver, Yellowknife and Edmonton. This follows meetings held in Ottawa last April as well as committee visits to Iqaluit, Labrador City, Fredericton, Montreal, Quebec City and Kitigan Zibi, Queensland.

The Sun said the meetings are to hear from women’s groups, Métis associations, shelter workers, professors, police and Royal Canadian Mounted Police. The committee will release a report next spring.

Studies have shown that aboriginal women are more subject to violence. In Canada, 582 mostly aboriginal women have disappeared and/or been murdered over the past 20 years, according to the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC), and many of those crimes have gone unsolved. The 153 murders that took place from 2000 to 2008 were about 10 percent of the total number of female homicides in Canada—an especially sobering statistic given that aboriginal women make up just three percent of the country’s total female population, the NWAC noted in a study, “What Their Stories Tell Us,” released in March 2010.

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In addition to the murders, 115 women and girls are still missing, according to the report. More than more than two thirds of the cases are in British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan, the NWAC said, and more than half the women and girls were under age 31.