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Feds to announce new missing women program

Canadian Press

Sunday May 15, 2005

OTTAWA The federal government is set to announce $5 million in spending to help reduce the lost ranks of murdered or missing aboriginal women.

Sources tell The Canadian Press that Minister Liza Frulla, responsible for the status of women, will release the five-year plan this week.

It's part of a spending blizzard whipped up by the minority Liberals as they gird for an expected election. Politics aside, however, the Native Women's Association of Canada says the cash is needed to send a vital message.

"The value of aboriginal women in Canada is less than every other Canadian woman,'' says executive director Sherry Lewis.

"There's a perception out there that we're easy targets, and that nothing will happen to you if you decide to cause us harm. That's what Canadian people need to understand.''

Her group will use the money to gather case histories on missing women. Those life stories will be culled for trends that could help shape laws, police procedure, shelter services and public education.

"We've got women in danger in Canada,'' Lewis said. "And there's not a public outcry to do something about it.''

She wants to explore how the abusive legacy of Indian residential schools -- combined with legally enshrined discrimination in the Indian Act -- has helped make native women especially vulnerable.

Amnesty International reported last year that racism and sexism "flavour'' police investigations of missing or murdered native women.

Researchers spent six months talking to victims' families, aboriginal leaders and investigators before releasing a report that made several recommendations.

The Native Women's Association used the document in its push for federal funding to better document cases and raise awareness.

While police insist they handle each case individually, Amnesty found that aboriginal women are doubly victimized: racism makes them a target, and it often means they receive less police and media attention.

Amnesty recommended a national, co-ordinated approach to track native women who have gone missing -- about 500 of them over the last 20 years.

Arthur Chartier's ex-wife, Janet Henry, is one of them.

He last saw her about three months before she disappeared in June 1997. They were married 11 years but had broken up before Henry descended into a life of drugs and occasional prostitution on Vancouver's Downtown East Side.

"`The whole society needs to change,'' Chartier said.

"So people start treating people like people. Those women are treated like animals.''

Chartier suspects Henry may have ended up at Robert Pickton's pig farm. She disappeared suddenly, without a word to the daughter with whom she had always kept in close touch.

Pickton, of suburban Port Coquitlam, is charged with 15 counts of first-degree murder. Those victims are among at least 69 women who went missing from the seedy enclave of flop houses and shooting galleries where Henry spent her last months.

Police have said their probe of Pickton's property has turned up 31 separate DNA samples, and that more charges are pending.

Families of missing prostitutes in the Vancouver area, many of them aboriginal, have publicly complained about lacklustre police efforts -- especially in the earliest stages of the investigation.

In Edmonton, there are growing fears as the number of women killed in the region continues to climb. Ellie May Meyer, 33, this month became the fifth dead prostitute found near Edmonton since January 2003. Two others have been found near Camrose, Alta., less than 50 kilometres away.

In all, 12 women described by police as leading "high-risk lifestyles'' -- some of them aboriginal -- have been killed in the area in the last 16 years.

But Edmonton's mayor and its police commission last year denounced allegations of systemic racism made by the Native Women's Association of Canada.

The claims were also rebuffed by the Institute for the Advancement of Aboriginal Women, an Edmonton-based non-profit group.

At the time, spokeswoman Muriel Stanley Venne said her group has given awards to police officers working to solve cases involving slain or missing native women.

Courtesy of
Canadian Press

Janet Gail Henry

Ottawa to spend $5 million over five years to track missing native women

Winnipeg Sun
By SUE BAILEY

Sunday May 15, 2005

OTTAWA (CP) - The federal government is set to announce $5 million in spending to help reduce the lost ranks of murdered or missing aboriginal women.

Sources tell The Canadian Press that Minister Liza Frulla, responsible for the status of women, will release the five-year plan this week.

It's part of a spending blizzard whipped up by the minority Liberals as they gird for an expected election. Politics aside, however, the Native Women's Association of Canada says the cash is needed to send a vital message.

"The value of aboriginal women in Canada is less than every other Canadian woman," says executive director Sherry Lewis.

"There's a perception out there that we're easy targets, and that nothing will happen to you if you decide to cause us harm. That's what Canadian people need to understand."

Her group will use the money to gather case histories on missing women. Those life stories will be culled for trends that could help shape laws, police procedure, shelter services and public education.

"We've got women in danger in Canada," Lewis said. "And there's not a public outcry to do something about it."

She wants to explore how the abusive legacy of Indian residential schools - combined with legally enshrined discrimination in the Indian Act - has helped make native women especially vulnerable.

Amnesty International reported last year that racism and sexism "flavour" police investigations of missing or murdered native women.

Researchers spent six months talking to victims' families, aboriginal leaders and investigators before releasing a report that made several recommendations.

The Native Women's Association used the document in its push for federal funding to better document cases and raise awareness.

While police insist they handle each case individually, Amnesty found that aboriginal women are doubly victimized: racism makes them a target, and it often means they receive less police and media attention.

Amnesty recommended a national, co-ordinated approach to track native women who have gone missing - about 500 of them over the last 20 years.

Arthur Chartier's ex-wife, Janet Henry, is one of them.

He last saw her about three months before she disappeared in June 1997. They were married 11 years but had broken up before Henry descended into a life of drugs and occasional prostitution on Vancouver's Downtown East Side.

"'The whole society needs to change," Chartier said.

"So people start treating people like people. Those women are treated like animals."

Chartier suspects Henry may have ended up at Robert Pickton's pig farm. She disappeared suddenly, without a word to the daughter with whom she had always kept in close touch.

Pickton, of suburban Port Coquitlam, is charged with 15 counts of first-degree murder. Those victims are among at least 69 women who went missing from the seedy enclave of flop houses and shooting galleries where Henry spent her last months.

Police have said their probe of Pickton's property has turned up 31 separate DNA samples, and that more charges are pending.

Families of missing prostitutes in the Vancouver area, many of them aboriginal, have publicly complained about lacklustre police efforts - especially in the earliest stages of the investigation.

In Edmonton, there are growing fears as the number of women killed in the region continues to climb.

Ellie May Meyer, 33, this month became the fifth dead prostitute found near Edmonton since January 2003. Two others have been found near Camrose, Alta., less than 50 kilometres away.

In all, 12 women described by police as leading "high-risk lifestyles" - some of them aboriginal - have been killed in the area in the last 16 years.

But Edmonton's mayor and its police commission last year denounced allegations of systemic racism made by the Native Women's Association of Canada.

The claims were also rebuffed by the Institute for the Advancement of Aboriginal Women, an Edmonton-based non-profit group.

At the time, spokeswoman Muriel Stanley Venne said her group has given awards to police officers working to solve cases involving slain or missing native women.

Courtesy of
Winnipeg Sun

Janet Gail Henry

 

Email: wleng#missingpeople.net 

Missing Women Tip Line: 1-877-687-3377

Updated: August 21, 2016