Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls
By: Amber S., Milton Youth Action Team, Halton Youth Initiative Communications Crew
July 27, 2020
The idea of reconciliation with Indigenous populations in Canada is a concept that is brought up frequently in recent times. The term reconciliation itself, however, refers to “the restoration of friendly relations”, which can be seen as ironic considering that historically, Canada has never had a “friendly” relationship with the community of people that are native to this land. Controversies and disputes about pipelines, land agreements, colonialism and other concerns aside, a major issue in Canada right now is the epidemic of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.
The 2018 Statistics Canada Census found that Indigenous people are five times more likely to be a victim of a homicide. Indigenous women account for only 2% of the population in Canada. The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC), found that only 53% of murder cases involving Indigenous women and girls lead to charges of homicide. This is dramatically different from the national clearance rate for homicides in Canada, which was last reported as 67% (Statistics Canada 2018, p.12).
Photo Credit Lorie Shaul
The murderers of Indigenous women and girls are not limited to ordinary citizens, and a recent incident that drew national attention and outrage involved an Edmundston, New Brunswick police officer. The victim of this killing, Chantelle Moore, was in her own home when the police came and shot her during a mental wellness check. After pressured by the public to look into the case, the Edmundston police force placed the officer in question on paid leave and then eventually allowed him to return back to work. This move was shocking to thousands of Canadians across the country, especially amid the worldwide protests against police brutality.
The situation for Indigenous women has gotten to a point that major news platforms such as CBC and The New York Times have moved to call the epidemic a genocide. Despite the fact that this issue has ripping apart communities for decades, the topic is just now being brought to light and there has not been a significant amount of action from the Canadian government. While the 2014 report is a recognition of this epidemic, more action needs to be taken from all levels of government – particularly Federal.
Canada’s relationship with Indigenous communities has always been strained, to say the least. The senseless murders of Indigenous women, however, have reached a point at which if the government does not take immediate action, the consequences will be drastic and irreversible. Canada prides itself on being a country that values equality for all, yet it is clear that this is not the reality for many Indigenous individuals across Turtle Island. It is our responsibility as Canadians to hold our governments accountable for their lack of action and we must speak up and fight for the safety and livelihood of all Indigenous people.
Photo Credit Chris Wattie