Forgotten Women
August 16, 2018 10:14 AM   Subscribe

The conversation of murdered and missing native women is not one North America wants to have - but it must

Given the complicated and tense mesh of federal, state and tribal law – as well as entrenched racism towards indigenous people across North America – cases continue to fall through the cracks.
posted by poffin boffin (17 comments total) 57 users marked this as a favorite
Thank you for posting this!
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 10:27 AM on August 16, 2018 [3 favorites]

Go home, baby girl is the story of one of the murdered indigenous women in Vancouver, B.C. Inaction on this is criminal and a continuing stain on our nation.
posted by arcticseal at 10:32 AM on August 16, 2018 [7 favorites]

Wind River (starring Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Olsen) is a pretty good western noir murder mystery that deals with this subject matter.
posted by linux at 12:17 PM on August 16, 2018 [7 favorites]

If you haven't read David Grann's Killers of the Flower Moon, you really should.
posted by Paul Slade at 12:42 PM on August 16, 2018 [4 favorites]

Connie Walker's podcast Finding Cleo is I think one of the top downloaded podcasts in Canada over the past six months or so.

People care, I think, about the issue of missing and murdered FN and indigenous women.

However, the dominant culture in Canada is white supremacist and as racist AF. There is a huge controversy in Victoria, where I live, right now about a decision to remove a statue of Sir John A. Macdonald. Although the decision wasn't communicated well (at all), on the other hand it is clear that it is part of the official national reconciliation process, and protocol was followed (just not explained properly).

As usual, the reason for the removal of the statue -- SJAM founded the genocidal residential school system -- was eclipsed by many, many voices from the dominant culture claiming "Canadian history is being erased."

Height of irony.
posted by JamesBay at 12:57 PM on August 16, 2018 [19 favorites]

Significant Canadian cases:
  • serial killer Robert Pickton, who killed at least 26 women, many of whom were Indigenous. (Note: do not read further on this case if you are at all sensitive, it is unbelievably grim)
  • the "Highway of Tears", a section of remote British Columbia highway where at least 18 women have disappeared or been murdered, the majority of whom were Indigenous. There is an award winning documentary about it: Highway of Tears
  • Loretta Saunders, an Inuk woman who was writing her master’s thesis on missing and murdered Indigenous women when she herself was murdered
Pickton was able to kill for as long as he did, despite ridiculous amounts of evidence pointing in his direction [content warning: gruesome descriptions], because the women he was targeting were not valued by the Police.

Loretta Saunders' family has described how the behaviour of the Police towards them changed for the worse once the Police became aware that Loretta was Inuk and not White as initially assumed.
posted by Secret Sparrow at 1:55 PM on August 16, 2018 [16 favorites]

This reads as if it was reported by email. I doubt that the author went out to Montana. The FBI is not responsible for investigating most crimes on Reservations.
ABC has a better piece on Ashley Loring Heavyrunner and all that the family went through. The BIA and the Blackfeet Law Enforcement Services were the primary agents in the investigation.
posted by Ideefixe at 3:07 PM on August 16, 2018 [3 favorites]

Damn, it's disappointing but not unexpected I guess that the inquiry Trudeau launched “has been a complete failure” per the OP. There seemed to be so much hope.

I heard about it when I came across a 2016 interview he had with indigenous rights activist Nikki Fraser (twitter) described as “Secwépemc from the Kamloops/Tk'emlups Indian Band in B.C.” whose aunt and cousin were both murdered. She gave interviews about the interview, discussing MMIWG: Deutsche Welle radio WorldLink, a video interview at a UN event

In this short video introducing herself for a magazine she says:
When you're born an indigenous person in Canada you're automatically put into a statistic, whether that be child welfare, whether that be murdered and missing indigenous women and girls, First Nation drop outs, child in care, whether you live on reserve or off: you're a statistic, no matter what. And so I felt like my daughter, I didn't want her to be a statistic for something that was so horrible.
posted by XMLicious at 3:25 PM on August 16, 2018 [1 favorite]

Robert Jago always has a lot of thought-provoking insights from indigenous perspective. Here he talks about how hard it is for First Nations communities on the Fraser River to just have the chance to fish for salmon.

Here he writes about The Deadly Racism of Thunder Bay.
posted by JamesBay at 3:49 PM on August 16, 2018 [3 favorites]

Firstly, this is not just a Canada problem.

That said, I needed to look into the CA background (in particular for SAJM); I found these two WP articles helpful:
Gradual Civilization Act (1857)
Indian Act (1876, with many amendments.
In particular, the GCA article states:
The statute ... required the "enfranchisement" of any recognized male [my emph.] Indian ... [who] would no longer retain the "legal rights and habilities of Indians" and would "no longer be deemed an Indian" but a regular British subject, able to vote.
So there's that, and in the IA article the section Gender discrimination is helpful. Understanding the attitudes and legal restrictions built into the system -then- is probably essential to understanding generations of built-in attitudes and misery. (Just as it is essential in the U.S. and on down south.)
posted by Twang at 5:27 PM on August 16, 2018

not unexpected I guess that the inquiry Trudeau launched “has been a complete failure” per the OP

I know there was a lot of hope for inquiry but I just don't know if it ever could succeed. The implementation, while coming from good intent, was ultimately doomed to fail. There's the obvious facts of it being implemented by a racist culture, a toxic law enforcement, a prejudiced & antagonistic judicial system. There is also the fact, which I haven't heard addressed all that much but comes up in the interviews with the participants, that they've lumped every First Nations, Métis and Inuit group into a single monolithic culture that's barely more comprehensive then something out a 1950's school text book.

While these groups share a lot in common they are also different culturally. Some identify as Christian, others don't, some are comfortable sharing their grief & others are more reticent, there's some who are happy to work within the systems of the Canadian government and others who won't, some live on reserves and others who don't... on and on. Without careful attention or at least a degree of sensitivity to the culture of the people speaking baked into the Canadian inquiry or even the willingness to actually listen to the victims' families and potential victims it could do nothing but fail. That's evidenced by the resignations but also from the lack of support of the families and how they ignored traditional aboriginal customs regarding grieving and justice.

It is tragedy that the inquiry has failed but I'm not sure how it could do anything but that. And it isn't any particular politician's fault - it is a system that is designed to be antagonistic & destructive towards its Natives. If it has done anything at least it has brought attention to this crisis (that link is to the CBC site where we see names and faces of some of the many women who've gone missing). Hopefully something more Native-led grassroots can work where this White politician led inquiry did not.
posted by Ashwagandha at 5:40 PM on August 16, 2018 [4 favorites]

Premier of Saskatchewan announces there is no guarantee a proposed new holiday to honour legacy of residential schools will be observed in that province.

Same Premier ordered police to remove protesters from unceded territory earlier this summer.

Same province where, earlier this year, a white farmer shot and killed Colton Boushie, a FN kid, for fear the farmer's property might be vandalized. The farmer got off.
posted by JamesBay at 6:14 PM on August 16, 2018 [2 favorites]

Saskatchewan has a long and checkered history with racism. Check the demographics - its a pretty small province dominated by a largely European & white population (which is pretty typical across the country). But... look at that Aboriginal population - over 16%. I can't find a reference to the stat now but that population is largely a younger one (under 18 I think or at least under 30) and it is one of the fastest growing populations in the province. Whether they like it or not that's going to change the face of the province.
posted by Ashwagandha at 7:26 PM on August 16, 2018 [1 favorite]

The TV station I work at has been covering this issue quite a lot - we are very close to several reservations, and are frequently baffled/infuriated by the lack of response we get when trying to get details about missing persons, murder investigations, etc, from official sources (BIA, Tribal police, etc). Two of my reporters did a half-hour special in June about MMIW (link).
posted by davidmsc at 8:31 PM on August 16, 2018 [2 favorites]

Thank you for posting that article, JamesBay. I grew up in Thunder Bay and most of my family still resides there. It is a terribly racist place. I haven't lived there since the mid-90s so I'm not sure if my observations are accurate or if it's just the distance I have from it but every time I go back it seems to get worse and worse.
My airbnb host offers me a ride across town. Without prompting, she talks about how her views of First Nations people contrast with her daughter’s views. Her daughter, she says, wants to “give the Natives everything,” but “this is Canada, we should all be equal. They shouldn’t be given so much free stuff. They should have to work like the rest of us.”
This sentiment is one I've heard often, even within my own family who I would otherwise believe to be decent, progressive people. But they can't get over the imaginary idea that this would be giving someone something they didn't earn, as if cultural genocide and generations of trauma doesn't represent enough time clocked in.

I've listened to both seasons of the Missing and Murdered podcast but Finding Cleo has really been something I can't get out of my head and recommend to everyone who asks (and many who don't) as the best podcast I've ever heard, and perhaps just some of the best journalism (the newest season of In the Dark, on a similar theme of racist systems and pure injustice might be it's American twin). It's disheartening to hear that the inquires have not been successful in moving the needle at all about how the country recognizes, reconciles and begins recompense for such a terrible history.
posted by marylynn at 2:44 PM on August 17, 2018 [2 favorites]

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