A slow start … but good intentions

Newly selected Chair of the AFN Women’s Council Deputy Grand Chief Denise Stonefish of Delaware Nation (Turtle Clan). Photo: CBC
Newly selected Chair of the AFN Women’s Council Deputy Grand Chief Denise Stonefish of Delaware Nation (Turtle Clan). Photo: CBC

Rhonda Lee McIsaac —

Momentum has been building to address long standing issues between the First Nations and the RCMP, and to reboot the sorry relationship of Indigenous people with the federal government, especially in regards to women, girls, and the RCMP.

At the Assembly of First Nations 37th Annual General Assembly held in Niagara Falls, Ontario, AFN Chief Perry Bellegarde and RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson signed a Memorandum of Understanding to seek mutual reconciliation and to begin building a positive relationship between First Nations and the RCMP.

“Today’s signing [July 12, 2016] represents an important commitment to improve relations and advance reconciliation between First Nations and the RCMP,” said Bellegarde. “I lift up Commissioner Paulson for his willingness to work together on healing, relationship building, enhanced cultural awareness and anti-discrimination training.”

The MoU is written to promote relationship building and provide ways for First Nations to work with the RCMP as FN’s decide. The agreement specifically commits the AFN and the RCMP to support action to address the safety and security of Indigenous women and girls.

The AFN Women’s Council which works to “ensure that the concerns and perspectives of First Nations’ women inform the work of the AFN presented a change in name for the inquiry promised by the Liberal government. Rather than calling it the Missing and Murdered Women Inquiry, the council suggested it be named the Safety and Security of Indigenous Women and Girls Inquiry.

Speaking on the first day of the AGA, Minister of Indigenous Affairs, Dr. Caroline Bennett spoke, acknowledging the feelings of impatience and urgency to begin the inquiry. Minister’s Hadju, Wilson-Raybould and her office are close to announcing the launch of the inquiry late this summer, she said, once the provinces and territories have agreed with the terms of reference and funding is secured.

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