CONSERVATIVES SHUT DOWN SISTERS IN SPIRIT

Despite $10M to stop violence against aboriginal women, no money given

OTTAWA – The Conservative government is shunning the primary advocate for victims and putting at risk key information on murdered and missing aboriginal women, New Democrats said today.

“We were hopeful that some of the government’s $10 million announcement would go to Sisters in Spirit to help maintain its database of missing and murdered aboriginal women,” said New Democrat MP Irene Mathyssen (London-Fanshawe), the party’s critic for Status of Women. “The important research they have done may now be lost. The Minister needs to explain how this data will be protected.”

Created in 2005, Sisters in Spirit has led the way in research on missing and murdered aboriginal women. Their April 2010 report “What Their Stories Tell Us”, identified knowledge gaps that have hurt the creation of effective policies and programming to address the high number of missing and murdered aboriginal women and girls in Canada.

“Too often we see programs designed in Ottawa to satisfy a political need,” said New Democrat Aboriginal Affairs critic Jean Crowder (Nanaimo-Cowichan). “They don’t take into account the needs on the ground. Sisters in Spirit showed the gaps in reporting and investigations into missing and murdered women and their reward is to be shut down.”

“Sisters in Spirit is the voice for the most vulnerable in Canadian society. Shutting them down—after they demonstrated how we are failing Aboriginal women—is yet another example of Conservatives putting political games ahead of what matters,” said Mathyssen.