Parties unite to lobby for inquiry

James McLeod
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House unanimously calls for federal government to take action into problem of missing and murdered aboriginal women

All three political parties put aside their partisan tenancies for the afternoon to call on the federal government for a national inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women.

This photo of Loretta Saunders, a Newfoundland native reported missing in Halifax, was on a Facebook group set up in an effort to locate her.

Premier Tom Marshall led the debate, and asked for a moment of silence to acknowledge the death of Loretta Saunders, an aboriginal woman originally from Labrador.

Saunders was murdered while she was at school in Nova Scotia, working on a thesis dealing with missing and murdered aboriginal women.

“She was just 26 years old, just starting out, expecting to have a whole lifetime in which to bring about change. But then she herself disappeared,” Marshall said.

“Loretta had become a statistic. But Loretta’s family, her community and all of us are absolutely determined that just another statistic is not what Loretta Saunders will be. This time it will be different; this time we act.”

In requesting the moment of silence in the House, Marshall said that what’s needed is for the federal government to hear the call for an inquiry.

“We are a long way from healing, because the violence continues to be done. The wounds continue to be inflicted. Aboriginal women continue to suffer from violence. They continue to disappear,” he said.

“Let us rise to honour her now with a moment of silence, and then let us resolve to be silent no more.”

The idea for the all-party resolution came from New Democrat Leader Lorraine Michael, who saw that a similar resolution was passed unanimously in the Nova Scotia legislature.

“I had no doubt there would be agreement, because however much we may disagree on various political points in this House, I know we would not disagree on the issues around violence against women, girls and children, and particularly aboriginal women, girls and children,” she said.

“I hope that we will become a role model for other legislatures in the country because I would love to see all provinces and territories stand and say to the federal government we absolutely need a national inquiry.”

Liberal Leader Dwight Ball also spoke about the importance of a national inquiry.

“The conversation around all of this will indeed be difficult, but it’s time as a society that we now identify what the systemic problems are facing aboriginal women. What are the root causes?” he said.

“That’s what this inquiry would do.”

Twitter: TelegramJames

Geographic location: Nova Scotia

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