For pity’s sake

Made the mistake of reading a few comments on this article about Chief Theresa Spence’s ongoing hunger strike. I should have skipped the comment section, I guess. I should know better by now – they’re everywhere… on Twitter (tagged #idlenomore just to make sure they’re easy to find) … on Facebook, on people’s blogs – but the worst, I think, has got to be on various media sites.

The ignorance of some people astounds me.

Not only are people STILL going on about where the money went, ignoring the fact that Attawapiskat’s financial statements are posted online for all to read (as are many other bands’, as a matter of fact), the newest theme seems to be Chief Spence’s body and weight.

And all of this in a supposedly MODERATED discussion, no less.

Betchya each and every one of these winners – my fellow Canadians (I’m sorry!) would, if accused of racism or sexism, vehemently deny any such thing. They’re not racist – some of their best friends are native. Uh huh.

Betchya if it was a male that was on a hunger strike, the conversation would be different – and different again if it were a nonaboriginal person.

It is no surprise to me that these people think it is perfectly reasonable to post their (disgusting, ignorant, racist, sexist) comments. Aboriginal women, in Canada, are viewed by altogether too many people, as expendable…usable.

And I’m not talking only about the men – sorry, but it IS almost always men – who are responsible for the more than 600 missing & murdered Aboriginal women in Canada . Aboriginal women in Canada are 3 and a half times more likely to be victims of violence than are other women.

Where is the outrage?

The Sisters in Spirit Initiative was doing amazing work on this issue…. do you know what happened to that? Do you care?

The Harper government axed the SIS program funding and replaced it with a working group of senior policing officials (read middle-aged white men) called the Missing Women Working Group (MWWG). The focus of this working group is – compared to the work that was being done by the SIS program – laughable. Here’s a wee bit from their report:

In June 2006, FPT Deputy Ministers approved the mandate of the MWWG: to consider the effective identification, investigation, and prosecution of cases involving serial killers who target persons living a high risk lifestyle, including but not limited to the sex trade.

The identified goals were as follows:

  • Share information and expertise with personnel across Canada who are responsible for identifying, investigating, and prosecuting these cases.
  • Develop strategies and proposals that would assist in addressing current barriers that hinder the resolution of cases involving victims of serial predators.
  • Promote the development of resources and training to assist personnel who are responsible for handling cases of missing and murdered persons.
  • Ensure that the Criminal Code and other relevant federal and provincial legislation provides the best tools for investigating and prosecuting cases of serial killers who target “marginalized” persons.

If you read the research reports generated by SIS you will notice that there is a key difference in the goals of the 2 organizations. SIS was concerned with addressing issues contributing to the problem of missing and murdered women in Canada…. finding ways to solve the problems so that there would not BE so many lives lost…. and empowering Aboriginal women and their families. The MWWG is clearly NOT interested in any of these things.

SIS reports recognize that not all of the Aboriginal women who are missing or murdered, are, in fact, women who engage in high risk lifestyles.  In fact, more than you would think were not at the time of their disappearance and many never ever were.

The MWWG is concerned only with hunting down serial killers. So hey … if you only kill one, they aren’t at all worried about you. Or, if you only kill Aboriginal women who are going about their lives and NOT engaging in high risk lifestyles, that’s okay too.

Reading the reports generated by SIS and the MWWG is an interesting experience – I highly recommend it …. at some point, I hope to get ’round to actually writing a comparison of the two … but right now, to get back to my actual point –  on the whole, Canada just doesn’t much shive a git about Aboriginal women.

We don’t care a whole lot when they go missing… hell, our media can’t even be bothered to report most cases unless and until a body is found. Really! I pay attention to these things. I even point them out – over and over again – to the media. No one listens.

When white kids go missing or commit suicide – that’s news.

Aboriginal people? Not so much.

And we Canadians are – on the whole – okay with that. Yeah, yeah, I know… you are not like that… but again, I ask… where is the outrage?

So why wouldn’t ‘we’ feel just fine about going on about Chief Spence’s body any old disrespectful way? Aren’t Aboriginal women’s bodies fair game in Canada?

Yeah, yeah they are, actually. And that sickens me.

It is no surprise to me that the idlenomore movement is largely led by women. It makes me happy, actually, to see it, and to – at least in my own limited nonaboriginal way – to support it as much as I can.

Unfortunately, though, it is also no surprise to me that the trolls, racists and other assorted incredibly ignorant (and lazy, lazy, LAZY) people are attacking from all fronts.

That’s what ‘we’ do to Aboriginal women in Canada, innit?

Aren’t you proud to be Canadian?

Me, not so much.

 

 

 

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