Unifor members across the country were devastated to hear the news late yesterday afternoon that police had discovered the remains of Loretta Saunders near the Trans-Canada highway in New Brunswick.
“This is a terrible loss, and our thoughts are with her family, friends, and community,” said Unifor National President Jerry Dias.
Saunders, an Inuk young woman originally from Labrador, was a criminology student working on a thesis about murdered and missing aboriginal women in Canada, and Nova Scotia in particular. After learning of her disappearance, her supervisor released a statement about the depth and passion of her work, as well as its profound importance.
The case has drawn attention from coast to coast here in Canada, renewing calls for a national inquiry on missing and murdered aboriginal women and girls in Canada.
“We were all watching this case attentively, hoping desperately that this would not be the outcome, but knowing that these cases are all too common,” said Julie White, director of Unifor women’s department. “This is no time for a meaningless apology or words of sympathy from government officials. It’s time for answers.”
Just hours before police announced the discovery, a vigil for the missing Saunders drew hundreds to downtown Halifax. At a meeting of about 200 Unifor local leaders, there was a standing ovation when a member rose to ask for the support of all in attendance to help find Saunders.
Unifor, which formed this past Labour Day weekend from the coming together of the Canadian Auto Workers union and the Communications Energy and Paperworkers union, demands that the government to take immediate action to begin a national inquiry. Both the former CAW and CEP strongly supported the efforts of the Native Women’s Association of Canada and their call for a national inquiry for years.
“When will the government finally take action? How many more families have to go through what the Saunders family is dealing with right now?” said Dias. "The hundreds of missing and murdered aboriginal women and their families deserve nothing less - an inquiry is long overdue.”