2011.02 Children of Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women

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Whereas, Aboriginal children, including children of missing and murdered aboriginal women, are disadvantaged compared to other children; and

Whereas, The families and community members of missing and murdered aboriginal women who assist with child care or child rearing would benefit from specialized support programs and social services; and

Whereas, The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child states that children and families are entitled to special care and assistance; therefore, be it

Resolved, That the national council of The Catholic Women's League of Canada in 91 st annual national convention assembled urge the federal government to extend support programs and services nationwide

•  for children of missing and murdered aboriginal women

•  for families and community members who become their caregivers

in keeping with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child ; and be it further

Resolved, That the national council of The Catholic Women's League of Canada in 91 st annual national convention assembled encourage provincial councils to urge their provincial and territorial governments to provide and/or extend support services for children and families of missing and murdered aboriginal women in keeping with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

 

BRIEF: Children of Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women  

The Canadian Council of Provincial Child and Youth Advocates (the Council) states that aboriginal children are disadvantaged compared to other Canadian children, with significant gaps in education, health, safety, living conditions, sport and recreation; and are also at a high risk for sexual exploitation and violence (Canadian Council, p. 2-4,10). There are 582 known cases of missing and murdered aboriginal women (NWAC, Fact Sheet, p.1). Their children are faced with the same disadvantages as their aboriginal sisters and brothers, with the added challenges of coping with the loss of their mother and being wards of other caregivers. “Aboriginal children represent approximately 25% of children in government care” (Ball, p. 10). The Council believes “that it is the responsibility of all Canadians and their governments to close the gaps for Aboriginal children and youth in the key domains of education, health and safety, criminal justice involvement, and social inclusion. New strategies and approaches will be required, and new mechanisms created to ensure a national, intergovernmental focus on vulnerable children” (Canadian Council, p.12).

The Native Women's Association of Canada (NWAC) stresses “There is a dire need to support family and community members who assume care for the children of missing and murdered women” with added “... responsibility to ensure these children remain connected to their communities and receive the necessary supports for healing” (NWAC, Fact Sheet , p.3).

Initiatives by the federal government via its October 2010 budget earmarked approximately $2.15 million over two years “...to help the western provinces develop or adapt victim services for Aboriginal people and specific culturally sensitive victim services for families of missing and murdered Aboriginal women” with funding “... to aboriginal community groups to respond to the unique issues faced by the families of missing or murdered aboriginal women at the community level” (Government of Canada, Backgrounder A ). While these initial steps are commendable, there remains the need to increase the funding as well as to extend victim services for families of missing and murdered aboriginal women Canada-wide.

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child states that children are “entitled to special care and assistance,” and that the family “... should be afforded the necessary protection and assistance so that it can fully assume its responsibilities within the community” (United Nations, Preamble).

Aboriginal children, including those of missing and murdered aboriginal women, “cannot be seen as the exclusive responsibility of one government or one organization. They are the responsibility of all Canadians …” (Canadian Council, p. 11). Additional support programs and services to address the loss of their mothers whether missing or murdered, as well as to adjust to being wards of new caregivers, would improve the quality of life of the children of these victims.

All levels of government are urged to implement support programs and services for the caregivers and children of missing and murdered aboriginal women. Effective supports, services and social conditions that are aimed at child development and well-being are required across Canada.

 

WORKS CITED:

Ball Jessica. Promoting Equity and Dignity for Aboriginal Childen in Canada (Aboriginal Quality of Life, IRPP Choices, 14.7 (June 2008): 1-30.

http://www.ecdip.org/docs/pdf/Ball%20Choices.pdf

Canadian Council of Provincial Child and Youth Advocates. Aboriginal Children and Youth in Canada: Canada Must Do Better

[Position Paper]. [s.l.: The Council], June 23, 2010 (14 pages)

<http://www.rcybc.ca/Images/PDFs/Reports/Position Paper June 16 FINAL.pdf>

Government of Canada. Dept. of Justice, Backgrounder A: Concrete Steps to Address the Issue of Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women, In: Government of Canada Takes Concrete Action Regarding Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women (News Release). Vancouver: The Government of Canada, October 29, 2010.

http://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/news-nouv/nr-cp/2010/doc_32560.html

Government of Canada, Justice , Government of Canada Takes Concrete Action Regarding Missing and Murdered Aboriginal

Women (News Release). Vancouver: The Government of Canada October 29, 2010.

<http://www.canada.justice.gc.ca/eng/news-nouv/nr-cp/2010/doc_32560.html>

Native Women's Association of Canada. Fact Sheet: Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women and Girls in Manitoba .

Ohsweken, ON: NWAC, [2010].

<http://www.nwac.ca/sites/default/files/imce/FACT SHEET_MB.pdf>

United Nations. Convention on the Rights of the Child . [Geneva]: UN, November 20, 1989.

<http://www2.ohchr.org/english/law/pdf/crc.pdf>

ACTION PLAN:

Requested Members' Action  

•  Write letters to the prime minister and members of parliament, urging the federal government to implement Canada-wide support programs and services for children of missing and murdered aboriginal women.  

•  Invite someone to speak on this subject to foster awareness in your council.