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The solutions are there, should we care to act on them
The murder earlier this month of Tina Fontaine, a wisp of a girl found by Winnipeg police divers who were looking for someone else, has rightly set off a public outcry about the alarming violence against Aboriginal women. Canada’s premiers are meeting this week in Charlottetown, where they have faced renewed calls for a national public inquiry into missing and murdered Native girls and women.
The demand for a public inquiry is understandable. But aside from the fact that such gestures too often end up costing millions, take months or years to complete and result in very little fundamental change, calls for an inquiry also ignore the fact that we already have many proposed solutions to the problems plaguing Aboriginal communities — should we care to act on them.
There have been dozens of coroner’s inquests into the murders, suicides and accidental deaths of Aboriginal girls and women, containing hundreds of recommendations on how to prevent such tragedies in the future. Tracia Owen was shuffled between foster homes and family members an estimated 64 times before the 14-year-old hung herself in a Winnipeg garage. The 2008 inquiry into her death produced 28 recommendations. Susan Redhead was 15 when she hung herself at her parents’ home in Shamattawa in northern Manitoba, having been sexually abused by five different men over the course of her short life. Her 2004 inquest ended in 108 recommendations. A $14-million public inquiry into the death of five-year-old Phoenix Sinclair —beaten to death by her parents, left to die on a basement floor and then dumped in a shallow grave — wrapped up earlier this year in Manitoba with more than 60 recommendations.
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