CityinThree

When a woman goes missing in Canada, you may often see a brief newspaper article covering the details of her...

When a woman goes missing in Canada, you may often see a brief newspaper article covering the details of her disappearance, a short televised interview with her friends and family, or something as simple as a post on social media, urging anyone with information to come forward.

 

Unfortunately, this is not always the reality when that woman is Indigenous.

 

Understanding the Statistics

Indigenous women in Canada amount to slightly over 4% of the total population, and yet, are the most over represented demographic group in missing and murdered cases across Canada. 

  • 16% of all women murdered in Canada from 1980 to 2012 were Indigenous

  • Homicide rates for Indigenous women between 2001 and 2015 were nearly 6 times higher than that for non-Indigenous females

  • According to the RCMP, 1,017 Indigenous women and girls were murdered between 1980 and 2012. This is a homicide rate 4.5 times greater than all other women in Canada. 

  • In 2010, more than 580 Indigenous women and girls had gone missing or were murdered

  • By 2014, this number had grown to nearly 1,200

  • One quarter of all female homicide victims in 2015 were Indigenous 

  • As many as 4,000 Indigenous women and girls have gone missing or murdered in Canada in recent decades

Looking at the Social Context

Even though they constitute such a small part of the Canadian population, why are Indigenous women and girls going missing and being murdered so often? To answer this question, we must first look at the socioeconomic factors embedded in the lifestyle of Indigenous people. Factors such as poverty, homelessness, racism and sexism are those most prevalent in Indigenous communities – products of countless generations of colonial exploitation and devastation initiated by the residential school system.

As a result of these factors, Indigenous females are left in a trapped box, with little room to move and no one to notice.

What is Being Done?

Founded in September of 2016, Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) is a government-led national inquiry devoted to examining and reporting on the systemic causes of violence committed against Indigenous women and girls in Canada. The launch of this inquiry was recognized as a pivotal stepping stone towards ending violence against Indigenous women, and establishing a new foundation of trust between the Canadian government and the Indigenous population.

However, what is desired is not always the outcome. Since this inquiry was first brought about, many Indigenous families have reported feeling left in the dark by those leading the inquiry. It seems that despite having such an inquiry in place, the voices of the Indigenous community continue to be pushed to the background of the issue at hand, and ignored once more.

This is not just an outcry, but an epidemic. And the worse part is that most Canadians are unaware of it. For a country that prides itself on the foundations of diversity, equality and inclusion, Canada has much to learn about respect for the original inhabitants of this nation. More importantly, we as Canadians all have a job to do in hopes of finding justice for these women, the first step being speaking up.

No longer should these cases go unheard; no longer will these women fade into the distance; no longer will the country remain silent while countless Indigenous women are taken from their families and killed. We demand justice for these women, and it will take all of us to attain it.