Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper claims that an inquiry into Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women (MMIW) is not necessary, that MMIW is a policing matter and derides calls for an inquiry as ‘sociology’.
I agree with Harper that MMIW is a police matter.
But not for the same reason.
On Valentine’s Day (February 14, 2015) across Canada marches and vigils were staged to convince the Canadian government to call a full judicial inquiry into 1200 murdered and missing Indigenous women (MMIW).
Near the Six Nations Indian Reserve 60 miles south of Toronto, Indigenous people participated in marches and a flashmob at a nearby shopping mall supported by non-Native people.
One Six Nations woman who carried a sign at the MMIW march agreed that there was something suspicious about the way her niece died. She entered care, and without any warning died.
“This is bigger than just the murdered women,” she said.
The MMIW case is the tip of an underwater volcano of violence against Indigenous women. The anecdotal evidence from Six Nations’ people alone, points to mistreatment and misdiagnosis by the medical system that has lead to many deaths.
Over the years families described how their mother perished. They don’t know what happened but she seemed fine, went into the hospital and died. There many stories in the territory that have similar endings.
In Canada Indigenous health-care has been the responsibility of the federal government. This means that every medical record is in the possession of Health Canada, the federal agency based in Ottawa.
The Canadian federal government should call for a full RCMP investigation into the medical records of every Indigenous woman across the continent who has died under care since records have been kept.
There is no doubt that once Indigenous people tell the story about suspicious deaths and have these matched to the medical records an even darker story will emerge.