If you happen to be an indigenous woman or girl in Canada, for no fault of your own, you are six times more likely than a regular Canadian to be murdered. Six times.
Almost a quarter of last year’s 516 homicide victims were reported by police as indigenous — a group that accounted for just five per cent of the Canadian population.
Let’s be clear that we did not ask to be identified as indigenous, but if Canada arbitrarily decided that we are not indigenous it basically amounts to genocide, or cultural genocide if you prefer. Maybe it’s semantic but we say we are Onkwehon:weh, that’s our word for what we are.
So yeah about that number. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) under direction from Justin Trudeau’s liberal government, teamed up with Statistics Canada and 300 other policing agencies to produce the report that calculated indigenous women and girls are six times more likely to be killed than non-indigenous citizens.
The same RCMP report also found that indigenous women account for 4.3 per cent of the female population of Canada, yet account for a whopping 16 per cent of female homicide victims. The math says this situation is super bad, especially for a supposed “first world country” whatever that is supposed to mean. And some people have the nerve to tell us to “get over it”.
Theresa McCarthy identified in her book In Divided Unity that, “The Six Nations reserve is immediately bordered by Haldimand-Norfolk County and the municipality of Brant. Both regions have very little ethnic diversity. The Ontario provincial government’s community profiles of both regions quote Indigenous and visible minority populations as less than 1.9 per cent and 1.5 per cent, respectively, and the overwhelming majority of the population is of white, Anglo-European descent.”
We could look at numbers all day but the point is that we need to discuss as nations and communities about the vulnerability of Onkwehon:weh women and girls and look for approaches that are organic and that permeate into families and attitudes.
Doing nothing is not a viable option.
Melina Laboucan-Massimo of the Lubicon Cree First Nation wrote these words that appeared in the New York Times, “We need to unpack the patriarchal, racist, and colonial mentalities of Canadian society to ultimately address the reasons why indigenous women’s lives are not valued in Canadian society as much as the lives of non-indigenous women.” The article reiterated Canada’s minister for the status of women who suggested the number of missing and murdered indigenous women (MMIW) could be as high as 4,000.
The Federal government did a survey earlier this year and the results showed 75 per cent of the Canadian population supports the inquiry into MMIW. The country is just taking baby steps towards addressing the problems that are the roots of the crisis.
We aren’t the problem! Conservatives and Trump fans alike should be able to appreciate the threat of immigrants arriving to outnumber you and eventually overpower you, it’s their greatest fear. For us it’s a reality.
Why can’t we imagine a world where Onkwehon:weh women are six times more likely to become leaders, policy makers, world rulers, business owners, or astronauts.
At the very least we deserve a future where our children can be safe in Canada. Until then all we can do is appeal to Canadians and hope their collective conscience will concur.