As our communities reel from the murder of Loretta Saunders, the call for a national inquiry into missing and murdered Aboriginal women has been reignited across the country.
Solidarity Halifax supports the call for an inquiry, but more importantly will continue to push for action based on the recommendations of past inquiries, reports, resolutions, and commissions into the myriad of injustices Aboriginal people face in Canada.
A national inquiry into missing and murdered Aboriginal women could shed light on systematic racism within the policing and prison system in Canada. An inquiry could lead to recommendations for real changes in the relationship between Aboriginal peoples and the Canadian state.
Solidarity Halifax recognizes, however, that even if an inquiry is done well and thoroughly, the chances of concrete action is in no way guaranteed. Furthermore, the chances of an inquiry leading to the kind of fundamental changes needed to address the colonial relationship between the Canadian government and Aboriginal people is slimmer still.
Indeed, the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, which was established following the Oka crisis in the summer of 1990, concluded that there was a need for complete restructuring of the relationship between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people in Canada. Among other things, the Royal Commission recommended that the further development of Aboriginal governments should focus on Aboriginal nations and programs to support Aboriginal self-government.
Furthermore, in 2010, Canada signed onto the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People, which states “Indigenous peoples have the rights to lands, territories and resources which they have traditionally owned, occupied, or otherwise acquired.”
An Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women – followed by concrete actions based on the recommendations – can only be a first step in Canada righting its relationship with First Nations. Canada must honor the findings of past inquiries, recognize Indigenous sovereignty, and cease profiting off Native land.