As a father of three grown daughters, I proudly support the action our federal government has taken to end all forms of violence against women and girls, including murdered and missing Aboriginal women and girls.
It was our government that established the special committee on missing and murdered aboriginal women in 2013.
And it was our government, under the strong leadership of Minister of Status of Women Kellie Leitch, that responded to the committee’s findings in its report Invisible Women: A Call to Action by announcing Canada’s Action Plan to Address Family Violence and Violent Crimes against Aboriginal Women and Girls.
Our government has invested millions of dollars in community-based projects which support preventing and ending violence against women and girls.
Those efforts include funding programs and services that support victims, improving community safety by giving law enforcement the tools to fight crimes that target women and girls such as online exploitation and human trafficking, providing matrimonial rights for women on reserve, and strengthening the capacity of the criminal justice system through tougher penalties for violent crimes.
The stark reality is that women and girls continue to face violence and exploitation in their homes, schools, workplaces, online and on the streets.
Statistics show that one in three women in Canada will experience sexual assault at some point in their lives, especially young women between the ages of 15 and 24.
That is why in May, I was pleased to invite local organizations to participate in a roundtable discussion to seek out ways we as a community can work together on to end exploitation and violence against women and girls in Kelowna and Lake Country.
My co-hosts were the Kelowna Women’s Shelter and MP Joy Smith, a long-time advocate for the protection of women and girls.
The feedback was positive and the work that is being done by local organizations is outstanding.
As my colleague Joy Smith noted: “Creating a society in which violence against women is no longer tolerated will take ongoing commitment and continuous dialogue.”
Adding to that was Karen Mason, executive director of the Kelowna Women’s Shelter: “Exploitation and violence against women and girls are complex, multi-layered issues which require a collaborative approach if we are going to make inroads to solving them.”
Violence against women and girls is an ongoing challenge in our society, requiring cooperation and vigilance by all levels of government, law enforcement, communities and families.
Misleading information and partisan politics has no place here; it is counter-productive and does not reflect the genuine sense of responsibility we all share and want to encourage.