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FEWO Committee News Release

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Standing Committee on the Status of Women
house of commons
HOUSE OF COMMONS
CHAMBRE DES COMMUNES
OTTAWA, CANADA
K1A 0A6

Comité permanent de la condition féminine

For immediate release


NEWS RELEASE


Parliamentary Committee Races Against Election Clock to Table an Urgent Intermin Report on Violence Against Aboriginal Women

Ottawa, March 25, 2011 -

The all party Standing Committee on the Status of Women, today, rushed to table an urgent unanimous Interim Report in the House of Commons. In the event of dissolution of the House, the Members of the Committee did not want their findings on violence against Aboriginal women in Canada to be lost.

"It is rare that an all party Committee displays such unanimity, urgency and passion in getting its message out", said the Honourable Hedy Fry, Chair of the Committee. "All members were so astounded and overwhelmed by the systemic, institutionalised nature of the violence against Aboriginal women that we wanted to make sure, this time, that their voices will be heard; that their cries for help and the hope which these hopeless and desperate women had placed in us was not lost because of an election call", added the Chair.

The Committee had spent almost a year traveling across the country to listen to Aboriginal women on reserve, as well as in rural, isolated and urban communities. The study focused on the root causes, extent and nature of violence against Aboriginal women. "We wanted to hear from these women personally and to listen to their ideas on how to prevent and stop this violence that had gone on for generations" said Chair Fry. "Despite well-meaning efforts by governments, the problem is escalating".

The Committee heard evidence of systemic, institutionalised racism against Aboriginal women and their children. Statistics show that three times more Aboriginal children are apprehended today into non-aboriginal foster homes than were placed in Residential Schools. Fear of this child apprehension leads Aboriginal women to choose between food and rent or to remain in violent situations. Statistics also show that First Nations children are over-represented in the child welfare system. As of March 31, 2010, about 8,682, or 5.4% of children living on reserves were in care outside the parental home. This proportion is almost eight times that of children living off-reserve.

"The Committee heard evidence everywhere of the root causes," Chair Fry added. "Poverty, racism, stereotyping, colonisation and a history of separating Aboriginal people from their cultures and communities has created an intergenerational vicious cycle of violence, both within Aboriginal communities and at the hands of non-Aboriginal peoples", said Chair Fry. “The most extreme example is the more than 500 missing and murdered Aboriginal women over the last ten years, and the indifference with which these cases have been greeted in the mainstream media” concluded the Chair of the Committee.

This interim report was to be followed by a more detailed report with recommendations in the fall of this year.

The Committee’s report can be found on the web at: www.parl.gc.ca/FEWO

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For more information, please contact:
Marie-France Renaud, Clerk of the Standing Committee on the Status of Women
Tel: (613) 995-6119
E-mail: FEWO@parl.gc.ca