CANADA is often perceived as a utopian nation – especially compared to its southern neighbour.
But the nation still has issues that persist from its colonial past and epic failures in its decolonisation process.
These have materialised as epidemic levels of violence against Indigenous women and girls – creating an issue so severe it has been labelled a genocide by the UN Human Rights Office.
As of 2018, Indigenous women were three times more likely to experience violence compared to their white counterparts, even though they only represent an estimated 4 per cent of the female Canadian population and 2 per cent of the overall Canadian populous.
Indigenous women and girls are also overrepresented in statistics of disappearances and murders.
In April of 2015, the latest RCMP statistic concerning Missing and Murdered Women and Indigenous Girls (MMIWG) revealed that 1,750 women went missing in Canada. Out of these 1,750, Indigenous females, accounted for 10 per cent, overrepresenting significantly in this category.
The harrowing figures are yet estimated to be much higher, as many Indigenous women were robbed of their Aboriginal status by the Canadian government in continued failures of decolonisation.
This included systemic institutionalised racism in the form of the Indian Act of 1876, the Sixties Scoop and residential schools.
The Act indicated that only aboriginal peoples with a parental lineage would be granted Indigenous states in Canada.
Resulting, in a copious of native women and their children being denied their Indigenous status and rights. This was coupled with the Sixties Scoop where 11,000 First Nation children and countless more Indigenous children were torn away from their families.
This multitude of factors – combined with infamous residential schools – culminated in not only a loss of culture, community and culture but for many Indigenous women and children, it meant enduring horrific experiences of physical and sexual abuse.
These acts of institutionalised racism against Indigenous women and children have resulted in acts of forced assimilation to Western culture and a statistical erasure of Indigenous w.
Canada’s history perpetrated an environment that promoted violence against Indigenous women and girls has created a modern-day breeding ground of systemic racialised gender-based violence against Indigenous females.
Holly Jarret is a grassroots activist who set up ‘Am I Next?’; an organisation formed because of the murder of her cousin, Lorraine Saunders, failures of the Trudeau government and the Epidemic levels of violence against Indigenous women.
In a conversation with Amnesty International, she said: “We, the family members of the missing and murdered, are a group of people you can never be prepared to be part of.
“And nobody would wish that on you.”
Later, she elaborated that activism isn’t a path Indigenous peoples’ set out to become but a path they are “forced into by circumstance without training.”
Both the RCMP and the Canadian government have continued to fail Indigenous women on a dramatic scale.
With an attitude of victim-blaming, violence against Indigenous women within the Canadian police and the failures in handling the cases of Betty Osbourne, Tina Fontaine and countless others, a “legacy of fear and mistrust of law enforcement agencies and officials” has flourished amongst Indigenous women.
The RCMP have continued their violence against Indigenous women. A Manitoba RCMP Constable, Kevin Theriault sexually assaulted an Aboriginal woman after arresting her during a host party.
His co-workers co-signed this behaviour with a senior to “do whatever…[he] want[ed] to do” with the woman. In another incident in Toronto, a police officer allegedly assaulted an Indigenous woman, was labelled a “hero” because of his 23-year long career. In Val D’Or Aboriginal women were accused of exploiting police officers as “scapegoats” for their turbulent lives when they came forward with allegations of abuse at the hands of the police.
With these epic failures over the years, the Canadian government have done little to address these catastrophic issues of racialised gender-based violence. Although, they initiated and concluded their MMIWG inquiry in 2016 and 2019 respectively.
It was only in June of this year did they announce an action plan to tackle the issue with Trudeau declaring that their “systems have failed [Indigenous people]”.
Although, filled with many sentimental statements regarding the issue, Trudeau’s government continue their inaction, giving no time frame as to when they plan to enact their MMIWG action plan.
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