It seems the Aboriginal Leadership in Manitoba wants to build a case for a National Inquiry into the Missing & Murdered Aboriginal Women issue on an extremely weak foundation.
On Monday, June 2, 2014, I attended the RCMP “D” Division news conference to hear details regarding Project Devote’s arrest of Traigo Ehkid Andretti (38). Andretti was charged with 2nd degree murder in connection with the death of Myrna Letandre, an Aboriginal woman reported missing in 2006.
Letandre happened to be one of the Aboriginal women whose case was included in the RCMP National Operational Overview report recently disclosed to the public.
Letandre’s murder was the first case solved by investigators assigned to Manitoba’s Project Devote.
The arrest will surely bring a degree of closure to the Letandre family and should bring some level of comfort to the Aboriginal Community.
Or maybe not.
I was more than just a little perplexed when I heard Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO) Grand Chief David Harper renew calls for a National Inquiry based on what appeared to be a clear misunderstanding or worse, a clear misrepresentation of the known facts.
“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 press interview.
Harper’s comparison of missing Aboriginal women to the 276 school girls kidnapped by heavily armed Islamic radicals in Nigeria on April 14th of this year is one thing, his misinterpretation of the facts is another.
I wondered, did Mr Harper even read the report?
The statistics contained in the RCMP report are clear;
Police recorded incidents of Aboriginal female homicides and unresolved missing Aboriginal females in the review total 1,181 – 164 missing and 1,017 homicide victims.
The Missing Persons Data;
- 6,420 – Total Missing Persons
- 1,455 – Total Missing Females
- 164 – Total Missing Aboriginal Females
- Of the 164 missing Aboriginal Females 105 are listed as “unknown or foul play suspected” while 59 are listed as non-suspicious circumstances
Harper’s misrepresentation of the facts were echoed in media accounts by Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs representative Dennis White Bird, who said, “I’m frustrated because there’s 1,100 women that are out there of First Nation descent … and very little is happening.”
After hearing Mr Harper on the radio and reading Mr White Bird’s comments I wondered why no one in mainstream media called them out for their glaring misrepresentation of the reported facts.
The truth is, as the RCMP report suggests, thousands of people are missing in Canada on any given day. The whereabouts of most are established quickly. 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.
That total number of missing Aboriginal women is currently reported at 105 cases, a far cry from the 1,000 or so suggested by Mr Haper and Mr White Bird.
Shouldn’t we at least try to keep the conversation real?
One of the most significant factors revealed in the RCMP report continues to be ignored by those who call for an independent inquiry.
Aside from causation or risk factors, it seems perpetrator information should be considered a highly relevant topic in the conversation. It would be logical to conclude that to stop or reduce the killings we have to identify and understand the people who form the suspect pool.
So who are the killers?
The RCMP report provides much-needed clarity;
Perpetrators of Aboriginal Female Homicide;
- 89% – male
- 35 years – average age of perpetrator
- 71% – likely to have a criminal record
- 62% – likely to have history of family violence with victim
- 53% – likely to have been convicted of a violent offence
- 44% – likely to have consumed intoxicants prior to incident
- 26% – employment rate
- 24% – likely to use social assistance
Offender to Victim Relationship (1980 -2012)
- 29% – Spousal
- 23% – Other Family
- 10% – Other Intimate Relationship
- 30% – Other Acquaintance
- 8% – Stranger
- 1% – Unknown
The RCMP report concludes that 90% of all Aboriginal female victims of Homicide knew their killer.
Murdered 1980 -2012
The following statistics are contained in the RCMP report;
- 20,313 – Total number of homicide victims
- 6,551 – Total number of female victims
- 5,439 – Total number of Non-Aboriginal Female (83%)
- 1,017 – Total number of Aboriginal Female (16%)
- 95 – Unknown Racial Origin (1%)
The RCMP report indicates Aboriginal Women represent only 4.3% of the Canadian female population yet represent 16% of the total number of all female homicides in Canada. The data suggests Aboriginal Women are grossly overrepresented in these tragic numbers.
The questions that need to be asked are;
Do we need a National Inquiry to recognize that Domestic and Family Violence are significant causes of our National tragedy?
Do we need a National Inquiry to recognize that family dysfunction, substance abuse, addiction, unemployment and poverty are all significant causes of our National tragedy?
I can tell you a few things we don’t need.
We don’t need anymore misrepresentation, finger-pointing or participation in the blame game.
Our ability to develop effective strategies to deal with our National tragedy is only limited by the level of our commitment, desire and ability to innovate.
I’m still not sure where that leadership is going to come from!