“Canada has a dark little secret”: Radek

By Adam Brazeau 
CORNWALL, Ontario – Activist and keynote speaker Gladys Radek called for action on missing and murdered aboriginal women at the Cornwall and District Labour Council’s International Women’s Day breakfast Saturday.

Radek has been on a mission since her niece, Tamara Chipman, disappeared from the Highway of Tears – the name given to the portion of Highway 16 Yellowhead between Prince Rupert and Prince George, B.C. – on Sept. 21, 2005.

“The heartbreaking reality is that Canada has a dark little secret,” said Radek to a crowd of 50 at the Best Western Inn and Conference Centre.

“That little secret is the overwhelming number of missing and murdered women and children in this country that nobody wants to acknowledge.”

She noted that there have been well over 4,000 women murdered or disappeared across the country in the past four decades. And an overwhelming 70 per cent of them are aboriginal or First Nations descent.

Radek co-founded Walk4Justice, the movement that organized three major long-distance walks for awareness and action, including a walk from B.C. to Ottawa.

Coun. Elaine MacDonald, president of the labour council, said Radek’s message represents a radical departure from the usual International Women’s Day focus on gains women have made in the workplace.

“Inspired by Gladys Radek, we focus on issues more elemental than wages, benefits, and working conditions…we address the value of life, specifically the worth of a woman,” said MacDonald.

Each guest in attendance was given a postcard addressed to the office of the prime minister stating the senate, RCMP, and United Nations have all recognized the disproportionate numbers of women, especially aboriginal women missing and murdered across Canada.

It asks for the federal government’s support by launching a national inquiry, a symposium for the families of the missing and murdered women, national action plan, and Cultural Healing Centres across Turtle Island with the resources to keep them open.

Radek said: “The first call of action was to demand a national public inquiry. Our gracious PM honoured our walkers by sending out a House of Parliament representative, who in turn told us appropriate steps would be taken to follow our documented demands. Absolutely no follow up from the PMO since then.”

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