So whose problem is the surreal level of violence against Aboriginal women in Canada? I am so monumentally pissed that I am ready to fire everybody, including the organizations run by Aboriginal women. It seems like nobody — absolutely nobody — is bringing their lunch pail to work on this problem.
On Monday, October 4, 2004 — that is over three years ago — Amnesty International shone a light on our nation’s worst disgrace: Aboriginal women aged 25-44 are five times more likely than other Canadian women of the same age to die of violence, according to their report. More than 500 Aboriginal women have gone missing or been murdered over the last 30 years.
That is 50 women every year. Apparently Aboriginal women are disposable. That is not what Canadians say but that is certainly the way Canadians behave. And it is mostly certainly the way Canadian police behave. Their usual method of dealing with Aboriginal women at risk, particularly prostitutes, is to ignore their safety concerns completely. Apparently working as a prostitute is a heinous enough crime to set you outside the protection of the law. And apparently raping, beating, and killing Aboriginal women who are prostitutes is also okay because we rarely find and prosecute the assholes who do these things.
So it has been three years. What has been done? In 2004, the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) launched the Sisters in Spirit campaign to raise awareness of the high rates of “racialized and sexualized violence” against Aboriginal women. I went to the Sisters in Spirit website and found a few announcements and absolutely nothing else. Absence of information on the web does not mean that nothing has been done but, when we look at the recommendations coming out of the Amnesty International report and compare them to what both Liberal and Conservative governments have actually done, it is clear that nobody is taking responsibility.
How does an issue this important get left under the carpet? Does the push for Aboriginal self-government mean that the various governments of Canada can relinquish responsibility while Aboriginal governments stumble? Is responsibility for the security of Aboriginal women in nobody’s back yard?
If not, we know whose back yard many will end up in.