Parsing reports on murdered and missing indigenous women
February 3, 2015 12:00 PM   Subscribe

Thanks for posting this. I learned a lot.

(like the fact that Pickton was arrested in 1997 and release. Fucking hell)
posted by dry white toast at 12:32 PM on February 3, 2015 [2 favorites]

We have The Hague for war crimes; so what do we do for something like this? And here we go having all the chest-thumping laws for "terrorists" yet completely ignoring real acts of pure terrorism where people get away with it because the system lets them...
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 12:36 PM on February 3, 2015 [7 favorites]

I agree, Alexandra Kitty. Here's the part of the transcript from Peter Mansbridge's interview of Harper where he mentions missing and murdered Aboriginal women:
[MANSBRIDGE] An inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal, indigenous women. You’ve rejected that in the past.

[HARPER] Yeah.

[MANSBRIDGE] There seems to be some indication that your government may be at least considering some form of formal inquest or inquiry or investigation.

[HARPER] Um it, it isn’t really high on our radar, to be honest, Peter. You know, our ministers will continue to dialogue ah with ah those who are concerned about this. They’re studying it. But we have an awful lot of studies and information on the phenomenon and an awful good ah indication of what the record is in terms of investigation and prevention of these sorts of things. I really think the important thing – you know, we can spend literally as we have in the past on some of these royal commissions or inquiries, we can spend hundreds of millions of dollars to get the same report for the 41st or 42nd time, or we can actually take action. And that’s what we’re trying to do. We’ve, as you know, taken strong laws to prevent and to punish ah criminal activity which a lot of this is. We’ve taken, ah made significant investments into ah preventative measures, particularly involving family violence measures on reserves and elsewhere. We’ve done things to try and enhance the legal and social status of women in aboriginal communities and reserves. You know, things like, basic things like having protections under the Human Rights Act, matrimonial property rights, these kinds of things that were not done in the past. So there’s still more work to be done but I would – I would rather spend my time focusing on what actions we can take to improve ah these situations, prevent these situations than, than have more multimillion dollar inquiries.
I agree that we need action rather than more inquiries that tell us what we already know. But for him to pretend that his government's actions are anything but half-hearted, incomplete and poorly implemented is disingenuous at best.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 1:01 PM on February 3, 2015 [9 favorites]

Thanks for posting this, and thanks to Lemurrhea for doing the parsing of the report. A depressing, but worthwhile, read.
posted by Cyrie at 1:34 PM on February 3, 2015

Relevant news story from today: Racism against aboriginal people in health-care system 'pervasive':
It wasn't her first bad experience at Victoria’s Royal Jubilee Hospital. In 2008, she sought medication for what she describes as severe stomach pain. She discussed the pain with a doctor, as well as her struggles with alcohol and finding a home.

The doctor wrote her a prescription, and told her she was good to go. When she got home, she discovered all the doctor had scribbled on the prescription form was a crude drawing of a beer bottle, circled with a slash through it.
Absolutely fucking disgusting.
posted by Phire at 1:42 PM on February 3, 2015 [10 favorites]

so what do we do for something like this?
Spend money to start. The problems are all caused or exasperated by crushing poverty. The women would not have been hitchhiking, engaging in sex work, stuck in abusive relationships to nearly the same degree if we had better supports for the poor.
posted by Mitheral at 1:52 PM on February 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

This is a gut wrenching report that is, sadly, not terribly surprising. I feel that this deserves a more mature presentation than a bunch of abbrvted twt spEk twitter posts separated by a few brief explanatory sentences.
posted by flyingfox at 1:53 PM on February 3, 2015 [2 favorites]

I agree with flyingfox, this was terribly done.
posted by Lemurrhea at 1:59 PM on February 3, 2015 [6 favorites]

That's a rather uncharitable reading of the project, flyingfox. It's hardly the pile of cutesy text-speak you make it out to be - does abbreviating "Canadian" to "Cdn" really bother that much?

I saw Lemurrhea's tweets live as he was reading this report, and for me there was a lot of added value in following someone's thought process in parsing this awful mess as they were going along. The tweets are largely quotes from the report itself, and to me it's all the more damning precisely because there's very little additional editorialization - the barest statistics alone are enough to form a horrifying picture.
posted by Phire at 2:03 PM on February 3, 2015 [5 favorites]

And where is your mature presentation of this report? Would you have read it and had a convresation and thought about it if Lemurrhea hadn't tweeted it (and then had it posted here)? I wouldn't have, and I'm glad that now I have.
posted by ChuraChura at 2:11 PM on February 3, 2015 [2 favorites]

>so what do we do for something like this?

Spend money to start. The problems are all caused or exasperated by crushing poverty.

Canada already spends a ton of money on "Indian Affairs" or whatever it's called today. It's a dysfunctional system of apartheid.

However, there are some fixes that money can buy.

For example, there is no public transport on Hwy 16, so most folks resort to hitchhiking, a very risky and potentially deadly practice.

If there was a regular bus service connecting, say Houston with Terrace (and PG to Houston) it would protect a lot of young women.

It will never happen because the federal and provincial governments are too cheap.
posted by Nevin at 2:12 PM on February 3, 2015 [4 favorites]

I in no way meant to disparage lemurrhea's work. The full report is around 150 pages and a summary like the linked storify article is a great start. However, I think that a wrap up summary could be better presented. Paragraphs, lists, and quotes would read better than a bunch of broken up tweets, in my opinion.

To be fair, I'm only at the "From the BC inquiry (Oppal report, the MWCI report)" section (I have no idea how far that is as storify does an endless reload thing). The twitter speak jab may have been a bit sharp, though. Sorry about that.

Also, I should point out that reading this is just making me angry, so sorry if I'm a bit snippy here.
posted by flyingfox at 2:32 PM on February 3, 2015 [5 favorites]

Nevin: "Canada already spends a ton of money on "Indian Affairs" or whatever it's called today. It's a dysfunctional system of apartheid.

I agree but that wasn't what I was advocating. We should be spending more money on services to the poor and combating poverty across the board. First nations members are massively overrepresented in the poorest cohorts and therefor assisting theses cohorts in general would disproportionately help them without all the baggage that seems to inevitably accrue when you start targeting aid to minorities. Simple things like making transit free, fully finding day care, improved transit service like the route you proposed, increasing funding to medical schools, shifting taxes away from sales taxes and toward capital taxes, drug rehab, homeless sheltering, etc. would help all poor people and disproportionately help First Nations members. All without othering them or creating programs that are easy to cut.
posted by Mitheral at 2:46 PM on February 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

And conversely, the government(s) need to stop cutting programs that benefit everyone and disproportionately benefit Aboriginal people.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 3:28 PM on February 3, 2015

Simple things like making transit free

As of 1 March, I think, all TTC transport is now free for anyone aged 12 and under. This is going to lift pressure from a lot of low-income families. And, hopefully, will spur towards pushing that age to 18.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 4:05 PM on February 3, 2015

They could also do crazy off the wall innovative stuff like honouring legally binding treaties, undoing post-hoc legislative shenanigans and returning land that was 'borrowed for the war' 70 years ago. You know, treat them like people with rights.
posted by srboisvert at 5:06 PM on February 3, 2015 [7 favorites]

Oh hey folks!

Flyingfox, no hard feelings at all. I was actually coming in here to slag the post anyways because it amused me, I probably shouldn't have joined your comment in. And trust me, I totally understand the "reading and getting angry" aspect.

I was always going to read this report, because it's in an area I've done a lot of work. But as ChuraChura implies, a lot of people would never read the report either because they didn't really hear about it, or because they don't have the time to read 150 pages of emotionally painful and/or dry legal writing. I can't argue with either of those, never going to shame a person for not reading it, but frankly as Canadians we need to be aware of what's in them. In one of my first tweets I think I used the term 'bearing witness', which is what this project was.

And as Phire gets at, especially in the tweets themselves I added very little commentary. I can't refrain from being partisan on the issue, but that's not what I wanted for this. My storify I added a bit of context, but almost always on technical points - a couple of times I directly linked to documents mentioned in the report, a couple times I touched on legal issues I could shed some light on. That's all I felt was needed.

Mitheral, in general I agree with you, but there are a few aspects where you (you = the government) have to be aware of the special situations for aboriginal people. Off the top of my head, reducing the cost of transit will help a lot of urban aboriginal people (which is great and there are a lot of them!) but there's already no public transit to a lot of reserves. And those routes probably are never economically feasible, but it's still a good idea. As well, the whole 'stolen generation' aspect (rez schools among other reasons) mean that there is, I think, a positive obligation of the government to treat aboriginal people differently. And things like the goddamn First Nations Transparency Act, which sounds great and sounds like it's treating everyone equally (it gives Reserves accounting requirements for their money not dissimilar to municipalities), but when the Aboriginal Affairs-appointed "emergency manager" won't provide the FN with their financial info, the Act starts to look less equal and more of a lie.

There are no good answers in general on a lot of aboriginal issues. When it comes to murdered women in specific, it's actual pretty clear. Highway 17 needs changing, as Nevin says. Better support for the poor is a no-brainer, as Mitheral says. Better support for women fleeing abusive situations on-reserve is required (BC's been doing good stuff on that, is my understanding). The RCMP/other police need better training - although notably the RCMP did tweet me saying that something in the report was wrong, it's all recruits getting training now, not just new + northern - because a lack of trust between the police and the community means that nothing gets reported. A..lot of these sound like our usual conversations about how to reduce violence against women. Trust women. Don't call them sluts or prostitutes and/or use that to ignore them. Provide them with safe spaces. Quelle surprise.

Also various Mefites who I chatted with that day provided me with invaluable emotional support to make it through. So, uh, yeah. Thanks.
posted by Lemurrhea at 5:47 PM on February 3, 2015 [6 favorites]

Trying to change a century or more of colonization, oppression and racism will not change by giving people jobs, homes or free bus rides. Aboriginal people have been stripped of their culture, language and history. The pain, the self-hatred, the anger....has destroyed many generations and stains the next generation.
I work with aboriginal women every day - women living with homelessness, poverty and violence. And women are still disappearing, still to this day. I get about 3 emails a week of missing (aboriginal) women.
I actually picked my mefi name for the missing women. Many of the pieces of women's bones found on the Pickton farm, still have no names. The farm is long gone (now a middle class suburb) and the women are forgotten (not for all).
Thank you Lemurrhea. And Fleckless.
posted by what's her name at 9:40 PM on February 3, 2015 [7 favorites]

Thank you Lemurrhea. That was a fascinating and harrowing read and I really appreciated your excerpts and commentary. I angered and distressed but not surprised to notice so many similarities between Canadian and Australian indigenous experiences at the hands of discriminatory philosophies, cultures and governments.
posted by Kerasia at 12:50 AM on February 4, 2015 [1 favorite]

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