OTTAWA — The availability of firearms contributes to the scourge of suicide in aboriginal communities, testified Michèle Audette in senate committee on Monday. And she told the senators that she was well placed to know, having moved just a hair to turn against it.
The commissioner of the national Survey of women and girls missing and murdered aboriginal offered in a personal capacity a touching testimony before the senate committee on national security and defence, which is studying bill C-71.
“In 2013, I was all ready to go. I had taken a mountain of pills, and I had been drinking. And something that had not occurred, the time where I had made my first attempts, I picked up one of the rifles that were where I lived, and I have tried to use it”, she told.
“What saved my life this morning, this is the cocktail of substances that I had taken, which made me sink into a coma and that prevented me to take the weapon to return it to me”, shared Ms. Audette, throat knotted with emotion.
The fact that so many weapons are circulating also allows “the commission of acts of unprecedented violence in our communities”, especially given the prevalence of spousal and family violence, “a daily reality for too many aboriginal women”, she said.
The activist of the rights of indigenous women has exhorted the members of the committee to advance the bill, even if it is aware of the fact that the presence of firearms in communities can meet their aboriginal rights.
It is this aspect of which wanted to, among others, to discuss the chief of the Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador (AFNQL), Ghislain Picard. He has claimed various easing to C-71.
“This bill does not take into account, and does not protect our aboriginal rights and treaty. (…) Nowhere is it mentioned (…) how the provisions of the bill will be applied to First Nations or on their lands,” he exposed.
“It should be clearly stated that the hunting rights of First Nations will be respected and that we will not have to obtain an authorization to transport for hunting rifles and shotguns, but (for) those who are ranked restricted,” added Mr. Picard.
Bill C-71 was developed from the recommendations of the canadian advisory Committee on the firearms (CFAC), which had been established by the liberal government. However, this group does not include any member aboriginal, ” said Michèle Audette.
There is a need therefore to rely on occasions such as today to be able to be understood”, she remarked.
The legislative measure C-71 was filed last march. The conservatives are vehemently opposed, among other things because they accuse the liberals of wanting to reinstate a registry by the back door” with the measures contained in the bill.
It requires gun dealers to retain for at least 20 years of data on non-restricted firearms, and tightens the security checks carried out to determine whether a buyer is eligible for a firearms licence, among others.
Last December, representatives of groups that advocate for improved gun control have come to Ottawa to urge the senators to do everything in order that C-71 be adopted before the elections of next October.