NDP: Report missing voices of aboriginal women


OTTAWA — A new House of Commons committee report meant to address the crisis of violence against aboriginal women ignores the testimony of most of the women it consulted, NDP members say.

Committee members heard from 150 witnesses across the country.

"Hundreds of pages of testimony from this committee pointed to poverty as a root cause for violence for aboriginal women," NDP committee member Mylene Freeman said.

"Yet this report makes no concrete recommendations on the subject."

The Conservatives say they have given Justice Canada $10 million over two years to help police forces better respond to cases involving aboriginal women.

But NDP members say the report only lists what has been done already, while providing only vague recommendations going forward.

Michelle Bakos, spokesperson for Rona Ambrose, the minister responsible for the status of women, says the Conservatives’ expansion of targeted violence-reduction programs speaks louder than any recommendations by a committee.

"Our government is deeply committed to addressing the problem of violence against women and girls. Our support for community-based projects has nearly doubled since 2006-2007, growing from $10.8 million to close to $19 million, its highest level ever."

NDP critic for status of women, Francoise Boivin, says the report reveals the Conservatives’ insistence on results over discussion.

"When I talk with Rona Ambrose it’s always ’we want results, we want action,’ but if you want results, you need recommendations," Boivin said.

Freeman says the new report contrasts with an interim report tabled by the committee in March. She says the earlier report did a better job of representing aboriginals.

"(The interim report) talks about a systemic problem that we have in this country," Freeman said. "And the other one talks about a bunch of funding and services that have gone to aboriginal communities."

More than one in 10 aboriginal women reported being the victim of a violent crime in 2009, says Statistics Canada.

More than 150 aboriginal women were killed between 2000 and 2008.

The 78-page report recommends greater emphasis on counselling the relatives of lost women and improving the cultural training for police and other social service workers who work with aboriginal women.