Tuesday, September 23, 2014
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Maracle supports inquiry, dismisses protest

By Jason Miller, The Intelligencer

While the local Mohawk chief supports the need for a national inquiry into missing and murdered Aboriginal women, he isn't onside with protesters blocking roads and railways to get Ottawa's attention.

“The Mohawk council here supports the need for an inquiry that would answer questions that the general public may have,” said Chief R. Donald Maracle, Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte. “They (council) don't support the protest as a means of putting pressure on the prime minister.”

A contingent of protesters set up camp on Shannonville Road at Hinchey Road March 2 to send a message to the federal government.

“It hasn't moved the government to do anything different than what it was going to do,” Maracle said.

Three people are facing charges following a CN Rail blockade near Shannonville Saturday. Protesters upped the ante after Friday's news the federal government had no appetite for an inquiry, even after the release of parliamentary report calling for further study.

Though police didn't observe any signs of protest in the community Sunday, Maracle said he has no information on whether they will go back to blocking roadways.

“No one knows,” he said.

Maracle said the investment made by the government, to date, to tackle the issue is a solid start and should continue, but there is room for an additional study, which could come by way of an inquiry.

“I still don't think what's being done goes far enough,” Maracle said. “I would strongly recommend that the government invest more into social programs.”

The federal government has committed $25 million over the next five years to shore up a number of areas including violence prevention initiatives and ongoing police investigations. At least 824 Native women have been reported missing or deemed dead.

“When you spread that $25 million across the country it really isn't a lot of money,” Maracle said.

Maracle has maintained contact with RCMP investigators to get up updates on the file.

He said between 2006 and 2012 the RCMP have solved 82 per cent of the cases they handled where there has been a body. In 90 per cent of the cases handled by the RCMP it was uncovered the victim knew the perpetrator.

“There are way too many people that are still missing that aren't accounted for,” Maracle said. “It's a tragedy that young aboriginal women are vulnerable to these kind of crimes.”

With that in mind, it's Maracle's understanding the “police don't know what an inquiry would achieve.”

The Native Women's Association of Canada cites statistics that aboriginal women make up 10 per cent of female homicides despite comprising only three per cent of the female population.

“Aboriginal women are overrepresented in the crime statistics,” Maracle said.

Prince Edward- Hastings MP Daryl Kramp said earlier this week there is no need for an inquiry when the government has already committed millions to support a number of initiatives.

"It's complicated by a number of ongoing investigations," he said. "These are ongoing and you can't just go ahead and have an inquiry when you have ongoing investigations because you can run into a competition where you can prejudice a judicial case."

Maracle agreed that is one roadblock to an inquiry.

“I don't think that the police would share confidential information with the commission of inquiry,” he said. “A lot of investigations are confidential until charges are laid. It could be prejudicial to ongoing investigations.”

It's the lingering unknowns about the whereabouts of dozens of women that's festering doubt in Maracle's mind.

“No one even knows if some of those women might be held captive somewhere,” he said. “There are just so many unknowns.”

The parliamentary report tabled in the House of Commons was built from a year of testimony urging a public investigation be conducted.

It instead calls for support for the family of victims, better police data, support for aboriginal communities, action to reduce human trafficking and a public awareness campaign. Opposition MPs hastily dismissed the document as a whitewash.

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