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Monday, August 25, 2014

OP-ED Piece on the Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women in Canada

OP-Ed Piece on the Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women in Canada
By: Christine Smith (McFarlane)

As a First Nations woman, it incenses me to hear of the ever-increasing number of so many Missing and Murdered Women. It also tears at my heart when I wonder how many more Aboriginal/First Nations women are going to go missing or be murdered before the Canadian government stands up, takes notice and takes action.

The issue of the Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women in Canada impacts all Aboriginal women and girls. It’s not something that you can read about and forget. It stays in your mind, and infuriates you when you see the government ignore the pleas from the public for help.

It is beyond sad that the number of missing and murdered Aboriginal/First Nations women in Canada is disproportionately high. The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) research indicates that, “between 2000 and 2008, Aboriginal women and girls represented approximately 10% of all female homicides in Canada. However, Aboriginal women make up only 3% of the female population.”

NWAC also states “Most of the cases involve young women and girls. Just over half of the cases (55%) involve women and girls under the age of 31, with 17% of women and girls 18 years of age or younger. Only 8% of cases involve women over 45.

In late 2013, the Commissioner of the RCMP initiated an RCMP led study of reported incidents of missing and murdered Aboriginal women across all police jurisdictions in Canada. The report is damning, in the sense that it states there are

·      Police recorded incidents of Aboriginal female homicides and unresolved missing Aboriginal females in this review total 1,181- 164 missing and 1,017 homicide victims and
·      There are 225 unsolved cases of either missing or murdered Aboriginal females: 105 missing for more than 30 days as of November 4, 2013, whose cause of disappearance was categorized at the time as “unknown” or “foul play suspected” and 120 unsolved homicides between 1980 and 2012.”

Despite all this, the Conservative government has rejected all calls for a national inquiry into murdered and missing Indigenous women, with Prime Minister Stephen Harper saying “We should not view this as sociological phenomenon. It is crime against innocent people and it needs to be addressed as such.”

Well, I’m sorry to say this Prime Minister Stephen Harper, but what is happening to my fellow Aboriginal/First Nations sisters are not just crimes; but if you took your head out of the sand, you would see that it is a sociological phenomenon also.

It’s a sociological phenomenon because it is ongoing and happening too often. It is also an important reminder of Harper’s rightwing ideology and what it’s all about. Harper's recent claim that the disappearance and murder of hundreds of Aboriginal women should not be viewed as a "sociological phenomenon" is an important reminder of how he sees Aboriginal people (in this case women) as not that important.

It is infuriating that we have a Prime Minister who doesn't seem to care about finding a solution to the issue of our missing and murdered sisters, and ignores the pleas of the public to do something to stop this.


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