By: Celia Carr- Assistant External News Editor
The provincial government of Newfoundland and Labrador is calling on Ottawa to call for an inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal Loretta Saunders.
In a news release sent out on March 14th, the leaders of all three political parties said that they’ll be supporting the motion, which will be debated in the House of Assembly next week. All three parties believe the resolution lies within the federal government to make further inquiries into similar tragedies.
The 26-year-old university student Loretta Saunders was reported missing by her family on Feb. 13 and was found dead in a highway median in New Brunswick on Feb. 26th. Originally from Labrador, Saunders was studying at St. Mary’s University in Nova Scotia when she was murdered.
“The recent tragic death of Loretta Saunders has made the circumstances surrounding the high numbers of missing and murdered Aboriginal women and girls even more troublesome,” remarked Liberal Leader Dwight Ball in the government’s news release Friday. “It is clear that this is a crisis that must be addressed immediately.”
The leader of the New Democrat Party, Lorraine Michael said that she’s hoping the unified voice of all political parties will lead to action with the Federal government.
“We hope that by passing a unanimous resolution of the House of Assembly of Newfoundland and Labrador, as was done in the Nova Scotia Legislature, that our actions will push the federal government of Canada to action to end violence against Aboriginal women.”
Resulting from this tragedy, groups of protestors met around the Peace Flame at the main entrance to Parliament Hill to speak on the death of Loretta Saunders and the controversy surrounding it. The numbers continued to increase until the group had grown to approximately 150 people.
The purpose of the gathering was made clear on one of the banners that were being held: “In memory of Loretta Saunders/ August 25, 1987 to February 13, 2014/ Call for National Inquiry on Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women.”
Saunders spent her final years of studying why so many aboriginal women went missing and were killed, which makes the inquiry that much more relevant to the case. Those who attended the gathering on Parliament Hill want the tragic fate of the Labrador woman to remind Canadians of all the other women who are still missing and the many who have been found dead.
The government has declared an inquiry into the horrible situation to be unnecessary (just as it rejects an investigation into the search and rescue system), explaining that everything is already known and what’s needed now is action.
“I remain very sceptical of commissions of inquiry generally. My experience has been they almost always run way over time, way over budget, and often the recommendations prove to be of limited utility,” Prime Minister Harper said in May of 2013.
Minister Peter MacKay, however, did not elaborate on any plans to bring help to endangered aboriginal women, which means it is likely that nothing will be done until after the government changes.