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Vancouver Rape Relief Letter Re: UN Inquiry into the Murders and Disappearances of Aboriginal Women

By Hilla Kerner
December 15, 2011

The Right Honourable Stephen Harper

Prime Minister

We, the collective of Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter, members of the Canadian Feminist Alliance For International Action (FAFIA) welcome the decision of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) to conduct an inquiry into the murders and disappearances of Aboriginal women and girls across Canada.  

We stand in solidarity with and respect for the rights and demands of our Native sisters all across Canada. We know from our membership, our allies and our daily work operating a 24-hour rape crisis line and transition house that the Canadian state consistently fails to protect women, particularly Aboriginal women and girls from male violence. Aboriginal women continue to be objectified, disrespected, dishonoured, ignored and killed with little consequence for the men responsible.

We note that, under your leadership, the Canadian government has virtually ignored the 2008 CEDAW call upon Canada “to urgently carry out thorough investigations of the cases of Aboriginal women who have gone missing or been murdered in recent decades”.

We praise the groups who brought this matter recently before CEDAW – the Native Women’s Association of Canada, the Canadian Feminist Alliance for International Action, the Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre and the February 14th Women’s Memorial March Committee. 

Canada ratified CEDAW in 1981, and we are calling on your government to uphold your obligations by international law, and collaborate with the UN CEDAW committee in this inquiry.  We urge you to respond and cooperate in a transparent, timely, and proactive manner to any and all CEDAW requests. We encourage you to follow the example of Mexico, who’s government guaranteed the conditions and facilities necessary to enable the inquiry to be conducted in total freedom and expressed complete willingness to implement any recommendations adopted by the Committee after the inquiry. 

Prime Minister, we demand your long overdue response to Canada’s abandonment of aboriginal women. 


Hilla Kerner

For the Collective of Vancouver Rape relief and Women’s Shelter

UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, CEDAW/C/CAN/CO/7, 7 November 2008, online

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