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Since the late 1960s, at least eighteen young women — many of them from disadvantaged First Nations communities — have disappeared or been found murdered along the 724-kilometre stretch of Highway 16 in northern British Columbia. None of these cold cases were ever solved until 2012, when a special RCMP investigation was able to link DNA from one of the murder victims to deceased US criminal Bobby Jack Fowler; but this single answer has done little to heal the wounds of Aboriginal communities who have seen dozens of their young women vanish along the "Highway of Tears," victims not only of murderous predators but of the systemic racism of a federal government that keeps them trapped on impoverished reservations and, as critics charge, evinced little interest in apprehending their killers.
Narrated by Nathan Fillion, Matt Smiley's award-winning documentary "Highway of Tears" not only movingly relates the personal stories of the victims, but investigates how the legacy of generational poverty, high unemployment and endemic violence in their communities contributed to their tragic fates — and how contemporary First Nations leaders are striving to cure those ills.
The elections are over. Now is the time for change. I wanted thank all our 40,000+ supporters for your signatures. Your actions have resulted in 3 party leaders acknowledging our petition and responding favorably.
Please join me in thanking our newly elected Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, Tom Mulcair and Elizabeth May for their responses to this petition for a Federal Act to End Violence Against Aboriginal Women in Canada. It is a huge leap forward to know that we now have a government in place that will make efforts to prevent violence against women and that the issue is on their ‘radar’.
We cannot stop here. We must continue to push forward to ensure the government keeps the promises they made during the elections. I want to know that promises will be followed through with actions. You can be certain that in the coming weeks, various organizations will be pushing for the Liberal government to follow through with their commitment to launching the national inquiry.
Mary Teegee and I are pushing for a law to ensure there are much needed resources to fund the recommendations and action items that will surely come from the national inquiry. We are asking for legislation to make protecting aboriginal women and girls the law in this country. In the spirit of truth and reconciliation - there is new hope in our country to forge a new strong and positive relationship with the Government of Canada - the Federal Act would be a step toward rebuilding a Canada we will all be proud to be a part of.
The Act will very much mirror the Office of Violence Against Women Act Vice-President Joe Biden and President Barack Obama have committed to strengthening in the United States. Within their Act, police officers and prosecutors get special training on domestic violence and more shelters are opening throughout the country. It is important for all Canadians to be aware of how serious this problem is and how we can all work together to prevent further acts of violence against women, especially aboriginal women and girls, who are disproportionately targeted.
These acts of violence affect much more than just the victims. They assault our families and communities throughout the country. We must do more to hold ourselves accountable for the lives we lose on our watch.
The process of creating the Act will take some time, but we are 100% committed to making it happen. We owe it to our women and girls.