Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

RCMP Deputy Commissioner for Aboriginal Policing Janice Armstrong talks about the National Operational Review on Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women as Superintendent Tyler Bates, Director of National Aboriginal Policing and Crime Prevention Services listens in at a press conference in Winnipeg, Friday, May 16, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods

JOHN WOODS/The Canadian Press

Aboriginal women make up just four per cent of Canada's female population, but they represent 16 per cent of female homicide victims and 12 per cent of missing women. The numbers, recently revealed by RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson, are appalling, triggering anger and concern. Why do aboriginal women face a higher risk of violence than other women? In the absence of any easy answers, there have been many calls – including one from this newspaper – for a public inquiry.

Public inquiries have delved into everything from the future of health care to the horrific treatment of Maher Arar. In essence, a public inquiry is a government-ordered review of public events or issues of concern. They are meant to lay down the facts, discover the causes and generate recommendations for reform.

When it comes to missing and murdered aboriginal women, an inquiry would be useful in a very narrow sense. It could determine whether police negligence or misconduct played any role in generating those outrageously high numbers. It could probe whether the rate of unsolved murders of aboriginal women is, in fact, higher. (The RCMP says it isn't.) It could examine whether the federal government and native governments are doing enough to address disproportionate levels of violence against aboriginal women. According to the RCMP, two-thirds of native women murdered since 1980 were killed by a spouse, family member or other intimate.

Story continues below advertisement

But many fundamental issues would fall outside an inquiry's scope. The high numbers of missing and murdered aboriginal women may speak to the particular vulnerability of all native Canadians. And that may be bound up in all the other sad facts afflicting them to a much greater degree than the rest of the population: higher levels of joblessness, lower levels of education, higher levels of criminality and incarceration.

A public inquiry focused on the narrow topic of missing and murdered native women would be very useful. But on the broader issues underlying the much larger problem, Canadians don't need another inquiry to understand the urgency of aboriginal peoples' current plight. What's really needed is action.

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies