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FORGET CALLS FOR NATIONAL MMW INQUIRY – The Social Collapse Trifecta Requires Bigger Picture Thinking

HOPE

Sometimes things are so obvious people just can’t see them.

While the Aboriginal Leadership in Canada wastes time spinning their wheels demanding a National Inquiry into the Missing & Murdered Aboriginal Women issue, the collective Aboriginal experience continues down the same dismal path.

Poverty, exploitation, unemployment, addiction, incarceration, street gangs, sex trade, family violence, Child and Family Services and homicide.

While the majority of Aboriginal people in Manitoba are affected by one or more of these conditions, much of the recent media attention has centered on the plight of Missing & Murdered Aboriginal women.

Manitoba Grand Chief David Harper and other high-profile Aboriginal Leaders continue to push for a National Inquiry;

“Where else in the world are there over 1,000 women missing? We heard about the missing girls in Africa and there was a public cry on it. Here we have over 1,000 and still no call for a national inquiry,” Harper said in a recent interview.

The comparison Harper made between missing Aboriginal women and 276 African school girls kidnapped by heavily armed Islamic radicals was astonishing.  His misinterpretation of the facts even more alarming.  In reality, the total number of reported Missing Aboriginal women in Canada now stands at 105 cases, not the grossly overstated number Mr Harper suggested.*

In my mind, calling for a National Inquiry into the Missing & Murdered Aboriginal Women issue is nothing more than a half-measure equivalent to asking a Doctor to treat a hangnail when you have a knife stuck in your neck.

The Aboriginal Leadership can no longer afford to focus on the “hangnail” when there is a trifecta of urgent social calamities affecting the Aboriginal people;

  • Over-representation in Canadian Missing & Murdered Women
  • Over-representation in the Federal Prison System
  • Over-representation in the Child Welfare System

MISSING & MURDERED ABORIGINAL WOMEN:

On May 16, 2014, the RCMP held a national news conference to provide statistical information gathered in an unprecedented in-depth examination of issues regarding Canadian Missing & Murdered Aboriginal Women.

The Numbers;

1980 – 2012

  • 1,181 – Number of Missing & Murdered Aboriginal women
  • 1,017 – Number of Murdered Aboriginal women
  • 164 – Number of Missing Aboriginal women
  • 120 – Number of unsolved Aboriginal women homicides
  • 105 – Number of missing Aboriginal women (unknown or foul play suspected)

The report found that Aboriginal Women represent 4.3% of the female population in Canada yet represent 16% of all murdered women on record.

In a word, over-representation.

THE FEDERAL PRISON SYSTEM: 

On October 12, 2012 Winnipeg Free Press reporter Alexandra Paul wrote a crushing article called, “Female Native Inmates on Rise.”  The story reported on results of a study called “Marginalized, the Aboriginal Women’s Experience in Federal Prisons.” The results of the study were contained in a sixty-eight (68) page in-depth report penned by Mandy Wesley, LLB.

The highlights quoted from the study report the following;

  • Aboriginal people account for 4% of the Canadian population; however, within the federal corrections population, Aboriginal people comprise 20% of the total incarcerated offender population.
  • The current state of over-representation of Aboriginal women in Federal Corrections is a crisis.
  • The over-representation is even more pronounced in terms of Aboriginal women incarceration rates: As of April 2010, Aboriginal women accounted for 32.6% of the total female offender population, this means that one out of every three women federally incarcerated is of Aboriginal descent.
  • Over the past 10 years, the representation of Aboriginal women in Federal Corrections has increased by nearly 90% as such they represent the fastest growing offender population.
  • Moreover, there is no sign of any anticipated decline.

The report should have been a major concern for all of us.

In a word, over-representation.

THE CHILD WELFARE SYSTEM:

On June 6, 2014, Winnipeg Free Press crime reporter James Turner published an article titled, “Ted Hughes and Canada’s ‘national embarrassment.’

The article featured a speech recently delivered by Ted Hughes, Commissioner appointed to the tragic Phoenix Sinclair Inquiry, regarding his 2013 report entitled, “The Legacy of Phoenix Sinclair – Achieving the Best for All our Children.”  Turner identifies three (3) major issues from the speech;

  1. The crisis of Aboriginal children being vastly over-represented in the child-welfare system.
  2. The correlation between missing and murdered Aboriginal women and the child-welfare system.
  3. The need for the Manitoba Provincial Government to take a serious leadership role in solving the seemingly intractable national political issues that thwart real progress.

Any of this sound familiar?

Findings underlining “over-representation” may not be news but the correlation being made between the Child Welfare System and the Missing & Murdered Aboriginal Woman issue certainly seems to be a revelation of sorts.

You shouldn’t have to be a Sociologist to understand that identified risk factors for Missing & Murdered Aboriginal Women, elevated rates of Aboriginal female incarceration and Aboriginal over-representation in the Child Welfare System are all inextricably connected.

Why isn’t anyone else putting this together?

Lost in all of this is the plight of Aboriginal men.

If we were to conduct a study focusing on the Canadian experience for Aboriginal men I’m confident we’d see more of the same over-representation. (Criminal justice, incarceration, victims of crime)

So where does that leave the Aboriginal people?

While I don’t pretend to be an expert on the many complex issues that impact the quality of life of Aboriginal people, it seems obvious the time has come to start taking a look at the “big picture.”

The disinterested, unsympathetic main stream continue to be numb to the plight of First Nations people.  Victim blaming is a common sentiment when it comes to the societal care factor.  Public opinion is often shaped and damaged by exposure to stories of corrupt Aboriginal Leadership, abuse of power and the exploitation of their people.

Indifference, negative stereotypes and the racial divide continues to impede healing and growth.

Winnipeg Police Chief Devon Clunis recognizes the need for social change and has declared his intention to be a catalyst for that change.  “Crime prevention through social development,” is a radical crime fighting experiment designed to elevate the marginalized segments of our society. That experiment continues to evolve as illustrated by an article published in the Winnipeg Free Press by WPS Community Relations Staff Sergeant Andy Golebioski.  The story, “Involvement in Aboriginal Community the Way Forward,” is an acknowledgment of past failures and a promise of support and partnership for the future.

Can the good intentions of a socially conscious Police Chief be enough to lead us out of the darkness?

Not likely.

The issues are much too deep and complex for a unilateral fix.

In the minds of many people, the current state of affairs of Aboriginal people in our Country is a National disgrace.

How can it be that vast numbers of Aboriginal people living in a Country as plentiful as Canada have been allowed to live their lives in such stark poverty?

Poverty, exploitation, unemployment, addiction, incarceration, street gangs, sex trade, family violence, Child and Family Services and homicide.

Big problems require bold solutions.

Forget the half measures.

QUOTABLE QUOTE:

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FACTOIDS:

The City of Winnipeg has the largest Aboriginal population in Canada.

  • 6.5% of the City’s population is identified as Metis (46,325)
  • 3.6% of the City’s population is identified as First Nations (25,970)

There are 227,405 youths in Manitoba under age 15;

  • 1 in 5 is indigenous
  • 1 in 10 is Metis

Half the population of First Nations in Manitoba is under the age 21

  • 70% of First Nations youth in Manitoba do not graduate from high school.

Population Growth in Manitoba 2006 – 2011;

  • 22.9 % First Nations
  • 16.3 % Metis
  • 5.2 % Entire population

*Source – 2011 National Household Survey

RELATED LINKS:

The Police Insider – “Calls for National Inquiry Built on Weak Foundation”

Winnipeg Free Press – Andy Golebioski “Involvement in Aboriginal Community the Way Forward”

Winnipeg Free Press – “City Has Highest Aboriginal Population”

EDITOR’S NOTE:

*The total number of missing Aboriginal women was based on reports of all women listed as missing for more than thirty (30) days across all Police jurisdictions on the Canadian Police Information Center (CPIC) system as of November 4, 2013. (RCMP REPORT)

2 Comments

  1. Appreciate the message…

    Been busy working on a few things…

    Stay tuned…..

  2. Haven’t seen anything or read anything from you lately, is Jewel okay or on holidays? Heh buddy speak up your followers await!

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