Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women in Canada

Author: Sarah Jovanovic

On May 23rd, 2018, an article published by the Toronto Star stated that the federal government was “not ready” to create a special police task force for missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. The special police task force was a key demand in the inquiry’s interim report which concluded that racism, sexism, and colonialism have contributed to the murders and disappearances of Indigenous women and girls and the way in which their lives and disappearances have been overlooked. Crown Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett states that the government will continue to examine the proposal, however, the Liberal government has yet to announce whether they will grant the inquiry another $50 million, in order to research systemic violence and make life safer for a segment of the Canadian population that is being murdered at disproportionately high rates.

According to Amnesty International, a report recently released by the RCMP indicates the first time Canadian police have tried to identify and publicly acknowledge the number of First Nations, Inuit or Metis women and girls who have been murdered or have gone missing. In the report, roughly 1,017 women and girls identified as being Indigenous were murdered in a 30-year period between the years of 1980 and 2012. The homicide rate of Indigenous women is around 4.5 times higher than those identifying as non-Indigenous in Canada. In addition, there is another reported 105 Indigenous women and girls who are considered missing under suspicious circumstances since November 2013. It is also likely that the murders are underreported as the RCMP only releases the information if the death has been confirmed to be a murder, rather than also including suspicious deaths. As well, Statistics Canada reported that in 2009, the police the Indigenous identity or non Indigenous identity of 384 out of 610 homicides, leaving the identities of many Indigenous victims out.

The situation is evidently dire and the statistics are appalling, it calls into question why the government has not made swift changes to assist families in need. It is suggested that the police task force will also be staffed with third party investigators in order to ease the worries of individuals in the community where there is distrust in the police. The Liberal government must come to a decision that meets the needs of a community that has been long neglected by police. The government’s delay on the decision regarding the police task force and resources for the missing and murdered Indigenous women is continually harmful. The government should be listening to the voices of the Indigenous community and their concerns regarding police bias in the implementation of the task force.

 

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