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Canada Officially Launches National Inquiry Into the Deaths of Indigenous Women

Back in December, we told you that Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his administration were prioritizing an inquiry into the mysterious and disproportionate deaths and disappearances of indigenous women. Now, in the wake of this year’s series of annual Valentine’s Day vigils for these women, Canada’s government is actively preparing to launch the investigation.

While a 2014 study put the number of murdered or missing aboriginal women at around 1,200 between 1980 and 2012, the beginnings of this inquiry have given the Canadian government reason to think that the number is actually much higher. Perhaps even as high as 4,000.

According to NPR, Indigenous Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett believes that, “When you look at the real depth and breadth of this tragedy, it’s way bigger than we had thought.”

One of the big reasons cited is incompetent police work. According to the CBC, Canada’s Minister for the Status of Women, Patty Hajdu says:

When you actually start to add in, you know, disputed cases, for example, people that have claimed it’s a suicide or death due to exposure, but in fact there’s symptoms or signs that maybe it wasn’t, then of course the numbers jump.

Bennett agrees, and while she doesn’t want to speculate about a specific number, she thinks it may be

[W]ay, way higher. I don’t have the data, but I know the problem is not about us fighting about the numbers. The problem is making sure that these families that lost a loved one, these survivors that are still living, that their stories lead us to the kind of concrete actions that will actually put an end to their vulnerability and what has been going on.

Canada has a huge job on its hands, but it’s encouraging to see that there’s finally an administration willing and able to make these tragic losses of female life a priority.

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