Despite First Nations people being only about 4 per cent of the population, they make up a quarter of the missing and murdered aboriginal women in Canada, Unifor’s Prairie Regional Council heard.
And despite this, the families typically have trouble getting police to take their cases seriously, Candice Neuman of Ka Ni Kanichihk said in a moving address to the council.
“I have a family I am working with right now. Their daughter has been missing since September and the police will not let them file a missing person’s report because they have reports of sightings,” she said.
Ka Ni Kanichihk works with families to help them cope with their loss, offering support and organizing group events so the families of the missing and murdered women can draw strength from one another.
Neuman said her experience with the issue of missing and murder aboriginal women in Canada came when she was growing up in Winnipeg and a girl with the same name was found killed in a neighbourhood shed.
“That was my first indication for me that these streets are not safe for me,” Neuman said.
Several delegates pledged to make their members more aware of the issue.
“As union leaders, we need to stand up and make sure these women are protected, because this has to stop,” said Angela Adams, secretary-treasurer of Unifor Local 707A, and a member of the Alberta Metis nation.