The 724 kilometre stretch of highway 16 connecting Prince George and Prince Rupert is considered to be one of the most beautiful parts of Canada.
Unfortunately, through extremely tragic events, it has also become known as The Highway of Tears.
It is suspected that upwards of 30 women have gone missing in the area that is comprised largely of small towns and First Nations communities.
This week, meetings will be held within our region as phase one of the federal government Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls inquiry.
The Conservative Party supports the Liberal Government’s decision to launch an inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women and girls — however, it is important that it results in concrete action. The primary role of any government should be one of nation-building through policies that ensure our society’s most vulnerable citizens are protected from harm.
This government cannot act alone, they must, in concert with our provinces, communities, police and regional agencies work to build a spectrum of resources and programs that help build relationships and trust. Programs and resources that provide safety for our most vulnerable while educating against and mitigating high-risk behaviour.
The voices of families, community members and indigenous women all need to be heard.
There must be recognition that these are crimes, and support for law enforcement and prosecution to bring criminals to justice need be part of the solution. For this inquiry to deliver better results than the dozens of reports previously commissioned, positive actions must also be seen from leadership within our First Nations communities. Now is not the time for any one group to stand, point fingers and assign blame.
Active participation and cooperation from all parties is required to provide victims’ families with the much needed justice they deserve and hopefully help prevent yet another unnecessary loss of life. In my role as the Official Opposition Deputy Critic for Indigenous Affairs, I will be closely following the results of the first phase of the federal government’s national public inquiry. It is my sincere hope that this government allows open dialogue and contributions regardless of the origin.
The money invested in this process must help build relationships and trust within our communities, RCMP, Police Forces and First Nations. Maybe, just maybe we will then collectively honour the victims and their families by leaving a legacy of action rather than legacy of dust-covered reports on shelves.
Todd Doherty, MP