Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Thursday August 4, 2016
Inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women
‘I don’t know if I am ready to embrace this inquiry,’ says violence survivor
Many First Nations leaders and advocates in B.C. distrust the framework for an inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women and girls in Canada — and demand the body been given enough scope to look at how policing has played into deaths.
The long-awaited Canada-wide look at issues that led to so many tragedies was questioned, especially by family members who lost loved ones.
Lorelei Williams held a feather as she talked about her aunts and cousins. Two were lost to serial killers. One family member was raped and survived. Another was pushed out a Downtown Eastside window.
There is a litany of pain and trauma that makes Williams suspicious of the inquiry, despite promises that it will offer change.
“I have more questions than answers. I don’t know if I am ready to embrace this inquiry,” said Williams.
She wants the inquiry to look at policing and police accountability because she believes racism and indifference to Indigenous women by some officers has made it difficult to get anybody to take the search for missing family members seriously. She says she too was left to walk alone along a highway when she was 17 years old, stranded after being dismissed by 911 when she called for help.
Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs said the framework for the inquiry is flawed, and needs more funding or protections in writing that ensure recommendations will be acted on, instead of ignored.
He wants the inquiry’s scope to include a hard look at the issues of racism and sexism in the RCMP, saying racist attitudes on police forces have contributed to Indigenous deaths for decades.
“This is about accountability. Full stop. We need to ensure we do not blow this opportunity,” said Phillip.
“The issue …is an indelible black mark on the human rights record of Canada. We are not sitting here cheerleading.” (Source: CBC News)