Onkwehonwe Week in Review: January 21, 2015

Human Rights Watch report discovers culture of abuse inside RCMP

TORONTO – Human Rights Watch has published a report blasting the RCMP not only for failing to protect indigenous women in northern British Columbia, but also for sexually abusing them.

The 89-page report describes instances of sexual harassment and abuse, gang-rape, intimidation and other abusive treatment by the RCMP.

The research included interviews with the victims and their families along Highway 97 and the stretch of Highway 16 known as the “Highway of Tears.” The Assembly of First Nations has called the stories in the report “appalling,” reports APTN News.

RCMP Chief Supt. Janice Armstrong said in a statement that in 2012 they had told Human Rights Watch that they are taking these allegations seriously.


Indigenous children were subjected to experiments in residential schools

WINNIPEG – A Winnipeg man uncovered a report published in 1943, which described extra sensory perception experiments conducted on indigenous kids at Brandon’s Indian Residential School in 1941.

Maeengan Linklater said that although the kids weren’t hurt in this particular experiment, they were exploited with the promise of candy. He also said that he’d read other reports describing the conditions at the school as “deplorable,” the CBC reported.

Indigenous children were also subjected to other types of experiments throughout the 1940s and 1950s. Ian Mosby, a post-doctoral fellow at the L.R. Wilson Institute for Canadian History at McMaster University, discovered reports that showed malnourished children were subjected to nutritional experiments. They were given experimental flour or vitamin supplements instead of food.

Linklater said he hoped the newly discovered documents would help move people towards a dialogue of reconciliation.


AFN calls for national roundtable on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women

OTTAWA – The Assembly of First Nations has called for a national roundtable to discuss the issue of missing and murdered indigenous women for Feb. 27 in Ottawa.

The meeting is a first step towards creating a “national dialogue” about the issue, in the hopes that it will lead to an inquiry. The decision was made on the same day the Organization of American States’ Inter-American Commission on Human Rights released a report on the high number of missing and murdered Indigenous women in British Columbia, reported APTN News. The report concluded that the issue stems from “a broader pattern of violence and discrimination against Indigenous women in Canada.”

Indigenous leaders and organizations, provincial and territorial leaders, and the victims’ families will attend the meeting. The roundtable will focus on finding “tangible outcomes” including prevention and awareness, community safety plans and the responses from policing and judicial authorities, according to APTN News.

It’s still not clear whether the Prime Minister or his federal ministers will attend.


Hitchhiking study stalling because of lack of funding

PRINCE GEORGE – The in-person interviews stage of a study on why women hitchhike along the “Highway of Tears” may be in jeopardy because of lack of funding.

The study has received a small grant from the National Collaborating Centre for Aboriginal Health, but it’s not enough, reported CBC.

University of Northern British Columbia professor Jacqueline Holler said the project began in 2012 as an online survey, but has grown because so many people want to participate and be interviewed. Holler said that although the sample from the online surveys may not be a truly representative group across the North, they have produced interesting findings. One of these is that the majority of people with bad hitchhiking experience rarely reported the incidents to police.


British Columbia buys Grace Islet to protect sacred indigenous burial site

VICTORIA – The government of British Columbia has bought Grace Islet and will turn it into a nature conservancy in order to protect an ancient indigenous cemetery. It will be jointly managed by surrounding First Nations who had threatened legal action to protect the sacred site, reports the Globe and Mail.

This is the 12th time the province has bought land in order to settle disputes brought forward by First Nations who consider the sites sacred. Steve Thompson, the minister responsible for the purchase, says he wants the province to review its heritage and archaeological laws.

Nevertheless, William Seymour, Chief of the Cowichan Tribes, says they will continue with a drafted civilian claim asserting indigenous title to the land, because there still exist other burial sites that remain unprotected.

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