Donna Smith, aptn National NewsA federal committee that has been travelling the country is a waste of time.That’s according to Pam Palmater, a professor of Indigenous governance at Ryerson University in Toronto. The Status of Women’s committee has spent the past two weeks travelling to western and northern parts of the country talking to a number of Aboriginal women’s groups about violence in their community.But Palmater says there was no reason for this tour.“Of course it failed. I mean does anyone in this country need another study to prove aboriginal women suffer from high degrees of violence. we had statistics canada and sisters in spirit is the one who put the issue on the map.”The committee meetings were poorly advertised, poorly attended, no cameras were allowed during testimony and only certain groups were invited to speak.Palmater says the government is taking a paternal approach to the problem of violence against Aboriginal women.“Obviously they think they can do this better. and the way they do things is certainly not in the spirit of collaboration.Normally, the job of spreading awareness of the issue fell to the Sisters in Spirit Initiative. It’s ground breaking research exposed the fact that nearly 600 Aboriginal women have gone missing or have been murdered in the past 3 decades. But in the late fall, APTN reported that the project was being shut down because the federal government decided it can no longer use taxpayers dollars to conduct it’s research.Palmater believes the government is also controlling the Status of Women committee.“So doing it behind the scenes, not on television, not widely advertised, they can control who comes to the committee, what kinds of comments they’re going to recieve. And you can almost kind of prejudge what the report is going to be like. whereas if you opened it up to the general public and aboriginal women in general you would get a wide variety of perspectives.”In late October the federal government announced that it was spending 10 million dollars to address the issue of violence against Aboriginal women.But the bulk of the money is going to a database that is run by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Ottawa and doesn’t specifically track Aboriginal women that have gone missing or have been murdered. It essentially means that no one is tracking of women who turn up dead or go missing.The Status of Women committee doesn’t have a date to release it’s study.
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