Enough is enough.
August 22, 2014 1:10 PM   Subscribe

On Sunday, Tina Fontaine's body was found in the Red River in Manitoba after running away from a group home. There are more than 1100 missing or murdered indigenous women in Canada, and PM Harper has said that an inquiry into this is not needed, as it is "not a sociological phenomenon [but] crime".

Dr. Sarah Hunt says that an inquiry is not the route to real change, marginalizing indigenous voices while paying police and lawyers, and "[a]n inquiry will only help if it has action attached and if it shifts power into the hands of indigenous women, meaning it is led by indigenous women. Such a process will only be meaningful if it has the scope and power to illuminate the multi-layered systemic failures which contribute to this relentless violence."

Chelsea Vowel agrees that the problem is a systemic one which will not be solved by an inquiry, but does not oppose is, as the reports can have influence on court cases, policy development and research.

The Ontario Regional Chief also opposes Harper's refusal to call an inquiry.
posted by jeather (31 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
This is a good thread from a couple summers ago on BC's Highway of Tears.
posted by mannequito at 1:15 PM on August 22, 2014

"It's very clear that there has been very fulsome study of this particular … of these particular things. They're not all one phenomenon," said Harper. "We should not view this as a sociological phenomenon. We should view it as crime."

The direct correlation between this statement and what's going on in Missouri is scary.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 1:15 PM on August 22, 2014 [2 favorites]

I thought I could not loathe Harper more.
posted by KathrynT at 1:20 PM on August 22, 2014 [15 favorites]

I've said these things before but they bear repeating:

1) Fuck Harper.
2) And his anti-reality, anti-science, anti-education, anti-Canadian policies.
3) The plight of First Nations women in our country is an abomination and we should all be ashamed. I'm contacting my MP and MPP on Monday morning to demand action. I urge all my fellow Canucks to do the same.
4) Fuck Harper.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:21 PM on August 22, 2014 [35 favorites]

Loretta Saunders, previously

From my previous comment:

At the core of Pearce's work is her database. She has meticulously documented 3,329 missing and murdered aboriginal and non-aboriginal women using public sources like newspaper articles, web sites, public police files, and missing person posters. Some of the cases date back to the 1950s, but the overwhelming majority are from 1990 to 2013.

Where possible, Pearce also recorded the ethnicity of the victim. She discovered another risk factor: simply being an aboriginal woman. Of all the missing and murdered women in the database, 24.8 per cent are aboriginal, even though aboriginal women make up only about two per cent of the Canadian population.

posted by St. Peepsburg at 1:23 PM on August 22, 2014 [6 favorites]

"We should not view this as a sociological phenomenon.

Translation: I do not wish to think about or discuss the roles that poverty, discrimination, and misogyny play in these crimes.
posted by rtha at 1:25 PM on August 22, 2014 [37 favorites]

If you think "crime" and "sociological phenomena" are distinctly different categories, you have no business running a government.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 1:27 PM on August 22, 2014 [90 favorites]

I came to say what Bulgaroktonos said. Lordy fuck.
posted by Beardman at 1:34 PM on August 22, 2014 [3 favorites]

If you think "crime" and "sociological phenomena" are distinctly different categories, you have no business running a government.

There are so, so many reasons he has no business running a government. It's hard to pick just one. This particular comment is certainly the most recent.
posted by jeather at 1:40 PM on August 22, 2014 [7 favorites]

you have no business running a government

Pretty much everyone I know has been saying this about Harper since he was first elected.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:41 PM on August 22, 2014

My MP John Weston said the same thing to me. He claimed that a law and order approach was what was needed. It is not. That is not working. Even with the existing law and order resources, many perpetrators are still not caught, many disappearances are never followed up on. People simply disappear in this country and no one with the resources to find them even knows about it.

Of course this a crime. It is also a sociological phenomenon. And it is a political one too, since the federal government refuses to respond positively to calls for an inquiry.

But indigenous communities increasingly are split on a national inquiry. My facebook feed is full of young indigenous voices who have completely lost faith in settler governments and settler courts. There is a strong and growing feeling that an inquiry won't do anything anyway, and that the federal government will never become actively involved in this issue (despite the RCMP's report this spring (pdf)). Provinces have been stepping up, which is a good thing, but as we have also seen with Ferguson in the USA, there is an intractable race problem in Canada that will always compromise the ability of governments and communities to deal with this issue head on.

For years I sat on the board of the Vancouver Native/Police Liaison Society. I was there in the years when Robert Pickton's victims were going missing. Many of them were our clients, and there was a clear pattern to the disappearances. Trying to get the attention of anyone barring a few beat cops was insanely difficult (and those cops were terrified for the women they knew out on the streets of Vancouver's downtown eastside). The fact ithat many of these these women were poor, indigenous, often homeless and suffering from addictions and other mental health issues seemed to be all it took for the powers that be to look the other way. It took years to convince people that the threat was real, that these women were disappearing in suspicious circumstances. The identity of the killer was even widely known by the late 1990s but the investigations were just excruciatingly slow. Even when we got innovative investigative approaches like those used by Kim Rossmo the VPD brass ignored the evidence.

If 1200 femaie CEOs or school teachers or bank tellers or social entrepreneurs had gone missing and been murdered in Canada in recent years, I can't imagine we would see the kind of dithering, dismissal and out right racist response of the powers that be in solving the situation. Most reserves in British Columbia have smaller populations than that. Imagine a whole reserve or two disappearing. A whole village of daughters, gone. That is what we face. It's heartbreaking and infuriating.

Indigenous women - my family and friends included among them - are somehow not at all worthy of the attention or the urgency that is needed to put a stop to this disgusting stain on Canada's reputation. This simply has to change.
posted by salishsea at 1:43 PM on August 22, 2014 [45 favorites]

What Harper is saying is that he'll turn his attention to the issue after the charges are laid, rather than putting any effort or resources into preventing the crimes from happening in the first place. That's just so Harper.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 1:43 PM on August 22, 2014

If you think "crime" and "sociological phenomena" are distinctly different categories, you have no business running a government.

I wish. Enough Canadians like the shit Harper throws at the wall that he's been the PM for 8 fucking years now.

Between this and the citizenship post from earlier this week I'm feeling pretty low. As if I needed to be reminded again that Canada is not even close to what we were brought up to believe it was, and what it stands for.
posted by Hoopo at 1:44 PM on August 22, 2014 [4 favorites]

If 1200 femaie CEOs or school teachers or bank tellers . . .

If 1200 white people of any type had gone missing this would be a whole thing. Just like if a white teen had been murdered the white police wouldnt have been shooting tear gas into the crowd.
posted by KeSetAffinityThread at 1:50 PM on August 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

I mean it's obvious isn't it? But you'd be surprised how often that argument seems to help the penny drop for people.
posted by salishsea at 1:55 PM on August 22, 2014

If you think "crime" and "sociological phenomena" are distinctly different categories, you have no business running a government.

Agreed...which is why I think it a little strange to call for an 'inquiry'. What we need is a broad-based social services and support approach, which doesn't need investigating so much as it just needs implementing. There are a million people out there who could tell you exactly what's wrong with the current system.
posted by jimmythefish at 1:56 PM on August 22, 2014 [2 favorites]

Indeed, jimmythefish. The causes have been known for years. The problem has been known for years. The approaches have never changed and very few governments have ever showed an interest in sitting down and saying "holy shit this is bad. What are the radical new approaches we need to use to address this?"

This is why the young voices in my facebook feed are calling for community action rather than an inquiry, and truth be told, I'm in their court. But it would be nice if, just once, senior levels of government would come to the table asking "how can we help?" That Harper refuses to even contemplate a change to the status quo policy or otherwise fills me with rage and frustration. But I have come to expect that from that snake. He no longer surprises. He is our Erdogan.
posted by salishsea at 2:06 PM on August 22, 2014 [5 favorites]

I agree, we're well past the point that another inquiry is the best thing to do. We don't need more fact finding as much we need to get on with actually doing somthing. I think that right now, while we may not have perfect knowledge, there is a lot we do know coming out of the Picton trial and the RCMP report.

We need get off of our collective asses and get on with it.
posted by bonehead at 2:20 PM on August 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

Apologies if this is already covered somewhere and I'm just blind: what would an "inquiry" mean that a criminal investigation would not? Does it offer broader investigative powers or something? I'm not familiar at all with Canadian law or how it differs from what we have here in the States.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 2:24 PM on August 22, 2014

> What Harper is saying is that he'll turn his attention to the issue after the charges are laid...

...and that until the charges are laid, he will not facilitate any effort that could lead to charges.
posted by at by at 2:35 PM on August 22, 2014 [4 favorites]

In theory an inquiry is a chance to look more deeply at a problem in order to recommend policy shifts that aim at changing systemic causes for things like this. In practice however, inquiries have become a tool that governments use to appear as if they are doing something, but in reality most of the research and results are ignored or shelved. Judicial inquiries are binding on governments but things like Royal Commissions are not. In the early 1990s Canada conducted an exhaustive Royal Commision on Aboriginal Peoples whose report was entitled "Gathering Strength." IN indigenous communities the report is known commonly as "Gathering Dust."

In 2010 there was an inquiry into the subject of missing and murdered Aboriginal women here in British Columbia. It was painfully conducted and never really got the support of the community. It was largely seen as a wasted opportunity even though it criticized the police on the Pickton investigation.
posted by salishsea at 2:39 PM on August 22, 2014 [4 favorites]

Whenever I come across MRAs trying to claim that men are considered "disposable" by society at large I think of what it really means when some people are considered genuinely "disposable". The Vancouver Police disgraced themselves with their cavalier treatment of the Pickton case-- even when it was common knowledge that Pickton was killing women, they brushed off calls to investigate, then fired Kim Rossmo for suggesting that there was a serial killer at work, etcetera. And now Harper, on top of all the other insults and hurt. No, no pattern, nothing to see here. Just one group of people in our country designated prey for those who wish to kill. Yeah, I'm bitter.
posted by jokeefe at 3:22 PM on August 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

As a Canadian I am ashamed by Harper's do nothing attitude. This is so sad.

posted by Fizz at 4:15 PM on August 22, 2014

The Harper government is both a sociological phenomenon and a crime.
posted by crazylegs at 5:45 PM on August 22, 2014 [7 favorites]

Translation: I do not wish to think about or discuss the roles that poverty, discrimination, and misogyny play in these crimes.

Or history, for that matter.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:49 AM on August 23, 2014

salishsea, I flagged your long comment as fantastic. I may steal it (with attribution) for my blog, if that's okay with you.

I have hopes, maybe vain ones, that once we all get to say PM Trudeau something will happen. I'm first-generation Canadian, so maybe I'm part of the settler problem, but I don't want to be. Tell me what to do to help, beyond haranguing my MP and MPP.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 6:57 AM on August 23, 2014

In some ways this seems odd, as the UK government is usually only too keen to farm out things they don't want talked about to an inquiry (that tends to last t+2 months to the next GE, and isn't chaired by a judge or held in public just in case). I'd have thought the political risks of "1200 dead girls on your watch" would be too great to appear inactive.

Aside from being horrible, this has also made me realise I don't understand the process of Canadian politics at all.
posted by cromagnon at 11:33 AM on August 23, 2014

the translation of "inquiry" from Canadian to American is "review".
posted by mannequito at 12:42 AM on August 24, 2014

Thanks for posting this. I still think about that Highway of Tears post that mannequito linked here, and wouldn't know where to find quality follow-ups on the broader topic.
posted by harriet vane at 3:51 AM on August 24, 2014

I cannot believe our systemic racism of our First Nations, Metis, and Inuit peoples. I grew up saying really racist jokes about First Nations people (not from my parents as much as from school and society) and later on we all just had no real understanding of any of the issues. It wasn't until my later teens and twenties when hearing about residential schools and following a standoff in Oka that I began to realize how flawed our system is. Reading of Tina's death really should make us all - in Canada at least, say enough is enough. However there have been more protests over her death and Saskatchewan premier Brad Wall is saying her death cannot be overlooked.
posted by biggreenplant at 6:15 PM on August 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

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