In 2010, Sisters In Spirit, a research, education and policy initiative facilitated by the Native Women’s Association of Canada reported that there are more than 582 missing and murdered Aboriginal women in Canada, a higher proportion than any other segment of the population. In the past three years little has been done to address the issue and we have no idea how much this number has grown.
I have dedicated my life and career to advancing the rights of women and yet quite often I am reminded of how far we still have to go. Nothing reminds me of this more of this in Canada then our missing and murdered Aboriginal women. According to Canadian Police Information Centre there are 1,559 missing [...]
Honourable senators, it has been over 30 years since Canada ratified the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. This convention requires the state not only to condemn, prevent and punish all forms of discrimination against women but also to address the root causes of discrimination. Canada has failed to uphold this commitment, and calls for action by international human rights authorities have not been answered. Today, I wish to add my voice to those calling for a national inquiry on missing and murdered Aboriginal women.
Honourable senators, today is the International Day to End Obstetric Fistula. More than 2 million women and girls in developing countries are living with obstetric fistula, a hole in the vagina or rectum caused by labour that is prolonged, often for days, without treatment. Usually the baby dies. Since the fistula leaves women leaking urine or feces, it typically results in social isolation, depression and deepening poverty.
Honourable senators, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, an estimated 6.8 million Syrians, or almost one third of the entire population, require urgent humanitarian assistance. About 3.1 million, or around 50 per cent, of those who currently require assistance are children. Over the past year, humanitarian needs have risen by 5.8 million people, up from 1 million estimated to be in need in March of this year. Almost half of this increase occurred during the first four months of this year.
Honourable senators, in April I attended the Canadian Bar Association’s Envisioning Equal Justice Summit in Vancouver. The summit was chaired by Dr. Melina Buckley. Equal justice means that everyone in our society has the same rights and protections under the law; we all have equal access to the justice system. The summit brought together broad representation from the justice community to learn about and share views on practical means to build equality
Although they represent only 4% of the Canadian female population, Aboriginal women comprise over 32% of federally-sentenced women. Over the past ten years, the number of federally-sentenced Aboriginal women has increased by 86%, making Aboriginal women the fastest growing federally-sentenced population. Aboriginal women are also disproportionately represented federally-sentenced female inmates with mental health needs.
As many of you are aware, Kinew James, a 35-year-old federally sentenced Aboriginal woman, died at the Regional Psychiatric Centre in Saskatoon on January 20th, 2013. Ms. James had mental health needs, having admitted to self-harming behaviour and had threatened to hang herself while incarcerated at Grand Valley Institution for Women in Kitchener, Ontario. And [...]
Honourable senators, over the last month I have had the pleasure of exchanging emails with hundreds of Canadians on the subject of mental health treatment for offenders. I wanted to learn more about their concerns, their experiences and their ideas on how to promote human rights, including safety for all Canadians.