TORONTO, (Reuters) – The Canadian government is under mounting pressure to hold a public inquiry after police unexpectedly revealed last week that more than 1,000 aboriginal women had been murdered in the past few decades.
The number was much higher than past estimates and focused attention on the plight of Canada’s 1.4 million aboriginals, many of whom live in poverty, with poor housing, inadequate education and high unemployment.
In March, native activists in southern Ontario blocked the main railway line from Montreal to Toronto as well as a nearby highway to attract attention to the issue of missing and murdered women.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police last week said 1,017 aboriginal women had been murdered between 1980 and 2012. An additional 108 are still missing under suspicious circumstances, with some cases dating back to 1952.
Previous counts had been based largely on news reports and interviews with families, but the RCMP worked with police forces across the country, nearly 300 jurisdictions in all.