Today—Sunday, March 8, 2015—is International Women’s Day (IWD). In Canada IWD reminds us of the Aboriginal women who have been murdered and have gone missing, and the inaction and ineffective responses from various levels of Canadian government.
Official numbers reported by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in 2013 listed 1181 Indigenous women and girls who disappeared from 1980-2012; 1017 are homicide victims; 164 are missing.
The United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, the Inter-American Committee on Human Rights, and Amnesty International are among organizations whose research repeats and supports what Indigenous women in Canada have been experiencing, and reporting, writing, filming, performing and organizing around for decades. The numbers that study after study report, that story after story tells, clearly evidence that this violence is just the tip of a deep and deadly iceberg:
* Centuries of colonial dislocation and dispossession of Indigenous nations.
* Centuries of political and economic exploitation.
* Centuries of impoverishment and incarceration.
* Centuries of resistance.
What is to be done? The call for a public inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women in Canada has mobilized diverse collectivities and organizations behind this strategy to document the forces that continue to create and reproduce conditions in which Indigenous women are murdered and disappeared, demeaned and dismissed, and to support action for change. The Prime Minster’s office has responded by saying that these are “individual cases,” completely ignoring the violent colonial histories or the ongoing racial violence that have shaped years of often deadly violence against Aboriginal women and their families.
“It isn’t really high on our radar, to be honest,” Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced in response to calls for a national public inquiry.
On this International Women’s Day, 2015, we add our voice to the call for solidarity and support Indigenous women’s demands for an inquiry into “Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women in Canada.”
Send a letter to the Prime Minister or your local MP and demand an inquiry. You can do so here.
by Dara Culhane (with a little help from Denielle Elliott)
For more information see:
Amnesty International (2008) Stolen Sisters: A Human Rights Response to Discrimination and Violence Against Indigenous Women in Canada. Canadian Women’s Studies 26 (3/4): 105-121.
Dickinson, Peter (2014) Murdered and Missing Women: Performing Indigenous Cultural Memory in BC and Beyond. Theatre Survey 55(2): 202-232.
García-Del Moral, P. (2011). Representation as a technology of violence: On the representation of the murders and disappearances of aboriginal women in Canada and women in Ciudad Juarez. Canadian Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Studies 36(72): 33-62.
Gilchrist, K. (2010). “Newsworthy” Victims? Exploring differences in Canadian local press coverage of missing/murdered Aboriginal and White women. Feminist Media Studies 10(4): 373-390.
Harper, A. O. (2006). Is Canada Peaceful and Safe for Aboriginal Women?. Canadian Woman Studies, 25(1).
Isaacs, Tracy (2014) Collective Responsibility and Collective Obligation. Midwest Studies in Philosophy 38(1):40-57.
Million, Dian (2013) Therapeutic Nations: Healing in an Age of Indigenous Human Rights. Tucson: University of Arizona Press.
Moral, Paulina (2011) Representation as a technology of violence: on the representation of the murders and disappearances of Aboriginal Women in Canada and Women in Ciudad Juarez. Canadian Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Studies 72: 33-62.
Nicol, Janet (2011) The Scandal of Canada’s 4000 ‘disposable’ women. New Internationalist. Issue 443:12-13.
West Coast Line (2007) Representation of Murdered and Missing Women. 53 (special issue).
Unnatural and Accidental Woman, 2006.
Señorita Extraviada, Missing Young Woman, a film by Lourdes Portillo, US, 2001.
Finding Dawn, a film by Christine Welsh, Canada, NFB, 2006.