Donna Augustine (left) and Peggie Wentzell sing and drum during a Circle of Hope event at the World Trade and Convention Centre Wednesday.
©Desiree Finhert - METRO HALIFAX
The president of the Nova Scotia Native Women’s Association says the issue of missing and murdered Aboriginal women is an issue all Canadians should be concerned about.
Cheryl Maloney was one of many speakers during A Circle of Hope event at the World Trade and Convention Centre on July 16, where the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) has been holding its 34th Annual General Assembly this week.
“Canadians have to realize that the safety issue in our cities, in our streets, in our towns and on our highways, there’s no answer for you either as Canadians,” Maloney said in an interview.
The NWA and AFN has been calling on the Harper Government to launch an inquiry into the 1,100 missing and murdered Aboriginal women in Canada.
The demand for an inquiry has been strong in Halifax since the February murder of Saint Mary’s University student Loretta Saunders, who was an Inuk woman.
“If those streets are not safe, and it’s okay to kill and Aboriginal girl or woman, than what’s the difference?” said Maloney. “Eventually, it’s going to be more of you. It’s just not a safe place to live, and not just for Aboriginal people.”
About 400 Aboriginal people, from across Canada, crowed the conference centre’s ballroom to dance, drum, sing and give speeches about the women who have disappeared over several decades.
Michele Audette, president of the Native Women’s Association of Canada, said the gathering was about sending a message of solidarity to the Canadian people and government.
“We’re telling you to bring your ministers, to sit down and have that real dialogue with the AFN,” said Audette.
The call for an inquiry has been going on throughout the Harper administration without any government movement.
Maloney said they are starting to pressuring opposition leaders to commit to the inquiry after the federal election.
“We won’t get an inquiry with the Harper Government,” said Maloney. “If we do, it will be a slap in the face. Honestly, anything they do would just be to look good for an election year.”