BPW Greater Sudbury Supports Bill S-215 That Deals With Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women.

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BPW Greater Sudbury Supports Bill S-215 That Deals With Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women.

BPW Greater Sudbury has made the collective decision to support BillS-215 that deals with missing and murdered Indigenous Women. Since BPW has passed resolutions and have also received reaffirmations of these resolutions on our books that deal with this topic, we are working together as a collective with BPW across the globe to taking the next steps to get these resolutions implemented. BPW clubs across Ontario are working to do so by writing  letters of support for this bill. Clubs across Canada have started to do this as well. The Bill has passed the Senate and has had first reading in the House of Commons.

If anyone is interested in writing a letter to this matter, please contact BPW Greater Sudbury for more information.

For those interested in knowing more about Bill S-215, a copy of the bill is indicated below….

Bill S-215 Summary
November 9, 2016
Senator Lillian Eva Dyck

Bill S-215: An Act to amend the Criminal Code (sentencing for violent offences against Aboriginal women) is intended to protect Aboriginal women and girls, who compared to other Canadian females, are far more likely to be made missing or murdered. Many studies have shown that Aboriginal women and girls are far more likely to be victims of violence. The 2014 RCMP report, for example, showed that Aboriginal women and girls are three times more likely to be made missing and four times more likely to be murdered compared to other Canadian females. In addition, Aboriginal women are three times more likely to be sexually assaulted than other Canadian women. While the Charter of Rights and Freedoms is supposed to guarantee equal benefits and equal protection of the law for all Canadians, clearly, this has not been the case for Aboriginal women and girls: thus, remedial actions must be taken.

The Criminal Code already makes distinctions based on the Aboriginal identity of offenders. To address the over incarceration of aboriginals in the criminal justice system, the Criminal Code allows for the circumstances of Aboriginal offenders be given particular attention in sentencing under section 718.2(e). Bill S-215 would provide the same consideration in sentencing when the victim of assault or murder is an Aboriginal female, an over-victimized and vulnerable group. Statistics Canada reported in June of this year that simply being Aboriginal was a risk factor for violence for women, but not for men.

There are several recent analogous situations wherein the criminal code has been amended to protect other victims who are vulnerable to violent acts. For instance, parliament has passed bills to protect public transit operators, such as taxi drivers, and service animals, such as police dogs. The homicide rate for Aboriginal females is higher: 4.8 per 100,000 compared to 3.2 for taxi drivers and 0.8 for non-Aboriginal women.

Moreover, in May, the government introduced a similar bill, C-16, An Act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and Criminal Code. Bill C-16 will add gender identity and gender expression to the list of prohibited grounds of discrimination and adds gender identity and gender expression as aggravating factors in sentencing for hate crimes. It is now in its final stage of assessment in the House of Commons, having passed unamended by their Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights.

Given these precedents, it seems reasonable and fair that an equivalent bill to protect Aboriginal women and girls should also be enacted.

Bill S-215 will amend the murder and assault sections of the criminal code to make being an Aboriginal female victim an aggravating circumstance. As such, the court system will be required to take Aboriginal female identity into account during sentencing of the offender to ensure there is no bias against the victim that makes her case less serious in nature compared to any other female. This will ensure that there are meaningful consequences for violent offences against Aboriginal women. In addition, amending the criminal code in this manner sends a strong signal that Canadian society, as a whole, values all women and girls, whether or not they are Aboriginal. Bill S-215 will signal that violent crimes committed against Aboriginal women and girls, such as assault, sexual assault or homicide, are as serious as if committed against any other female.   This signal will act as a deterrent to those who think that the consequences of violent crimes committed against Aboriginal females will be less severe than those against non-Aboriginal females.