Debunking the False Narrative – An Uphill Climb

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RCMP National Operational Review Report

Police don’t give a shit when Indigenous women go missing or get murdered!

That’s the essence of the false narrative perpetuated by Indigenous leaders, politicians and certain elements in main stream media.

To me, it’s not all that surprising a 14-year-old Indigenous girl has developed a belief system based on that kind of racist messaging.

Brianna Jonnie (FB)
Brianna Jonnie (FB)

“The colour of one’s skin, their socio-economic status, or whom their legal guardian is, should not determine the level of assistance and resources put in place to find them if they are missing and yet, it does,” Brianna Jonnie wrote in a letter published in the Winnipeg Free Press.

“If I go missing and the WPS has not changed the behaviours I have brought to your attention, I beg of you, do not treat me as the Indigenous person I am proud to be,” she wrote in a letter to Chief Devon Clunis.

While it’s not clear what “behaviours” Jonnie is referring to, we can assume the young woman is calling out the police service for race based investigative indifference when it comes to investigating crimes perpetrated against Indigenous women.

Jonnie’s article was shared over 136,000 times on Facebook, was tweeted 3,563 times on Twitter and garnered 246 comments on the Free Press website.

Free Press reader Jacob Slipetz was the first person to share his opinion in the comment section;

WFP Comment Section
WFP Comment Section

I was the third reader to weigh in;

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While I’m not concerned with popularity, it was interesting to note my comments received the highest number of “thumbs up” votes in the entire comment section.

Not everyone gave me the thumbs up…

WFP Comment Section
WFP Comment Section

“Sustains one’s own wish to be free of responsibility.”

“It’s their problem, not ours.”

Herein lies the problem regarding societal issues involving race.

We just can’t seem to have a discussion about it without running the risk of being accused of being a racist, bigot or indifferent.

While I won’t dispute the fact many Indigenous people in Manitoba have been exposed to different forms of racism, (covert, overt, institutional, systemic) I vigorously challenge the idea Winnipeg Police homicide investigators make value judgements based on the race of their victims.

You don’t have to take my word for it, that inconvenient empirical evidence exists.

Contrary to the false narrative, police in Winnipeg solve 9 out of every 10 homicides they investigate.  The WPS Homicide Unit has achieved a 90% solvency rate for over 15 consecutive years.

The victims of these crimes include people of all races.

The undisputed fact is police in Winnipeg solve the murders of Indigenous women at almost the same rate they solve the murders of non-Indigenous women.

The WPS Homicide Unit had 100% solvency rates in 1999, 2000 and 2004.

It should go without saying, you don’t achieve a 100% solvency rate if you don’t strive for equal justice for all victims of the ultimate crime.

Statistics released by the RCMP suggest approximately 90% of Indigenous women are killed in the context of domestic or family violence situations or by someone known to them.

The facts don’t bother those who continue to perpetuate the false narrative.

I was stunned when a message from the WPS Public Information Office flashed across my smart phone…

WPS Media Office
WPS Media Office

Cryptic as it was, I assumed the press conference was called to confront the race based allegations made in Brianna Jonnie’s Free Press article.

A quick phone call to the WPS Public Information Office confirmed my suspicions.

I must admit, even I was surprised.

Imagine, a press conference called by Police to tell the public they care about people of all races.


I don’t blame Brianna Jonnie for any of this.

I’m encouraged the young woman has a strong social conscience and is not afraid to confront such a difficult social issue.  That speaks volumes about her character.

My concern lies with the people who create and perpetuate the misrepresentations, the racist rhetoric and the false narratives.

I am also concerned that people in powerful positions do nothing to debunk the myths.

Brianna’s letter was addressed to Police Chief Devon Clunis, Mayor Brian Bowman, Premier Greg Selinger, Justice Minister Gord Mackintosh, Family Services Minister Kerri Irvin-Ross and Northern Affairs Minister Eric Robinson.

Who among these “leaders” will bother to share factual information with Brianna Jonnie?

Factual information might be all Brianna needs to help reduce her fears of becoming the next missing or murdered Indigenous woman.

Factual information might help Brianna recognize the importance of developing healthy relationships with members of her family and friends.

Factual information might help Brianna realize she should educate herself regarding the dangers of domestic violence and the impact it has on the unacceptable numbers of Indigenous and non-Indigenous women killed every year in the Province of Manitoba.

Will someone tell Brianna the majority of Indigenous women are not killed by strangers lurking in back lanes and dark alleyways.

Will someone tell her victim characteristics such as race, gender, religion, sexual orientation or even involvement in gangs and the drug trade are not factors assessed by Law Enforcement Officers to determine their investigative commitment in missing persons or murder cases.

Will someone please tell her.

It’s time to put the false narrative to bed.


What they said;

The Winnipeg Free Press Editors*

“There is also a long-standing belief that the Winnipeg Police Service has been slow to act on reports of missing aboriginal women, to put as much weight behind those homicide investigations as they do with non-aboriginal cases.”

(Perpetuating the false narrative without taking any responsibility to offer balance or publish empirical evidence that de-bunks the “long-standing belief.”)

*Excerpt from Editorial Published March 11, 2016 – “What Devon Clunis leaves behind.” WFP Editors – Catherine Mitchell, David O’Brien, Shannon Sampert, Paul Samyn.

Grand Chief David Harper

“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 outcry on it. Here we have over 1,000 and still no call for a national inquiry.”

Grand Chief Dennis White Bird

“I’m frustrated because there’s 1,100 women that are out there (missing) of First Nation decent and very little is happening.”

(The initial RCMP report indicated 164 Aboriginal women were reported missing, 105 of these women were reported missing by unknown or foul play suspected while 59 were considered missing by non-suspicious circumstances i.e.: runaways, lost, wandered off.)

Gladys Radek – Aboriginal activist

“As far as they’re concerned it’s just another dead Indian, enough is enough, we want justice.”

Leslie Spillet – Member of the Winnipeg Police Board

“The freaking army would be digging up every inch of that garbage dump to find a white child. We know it, we see it. It just tells us who we are.”

“Do you think if a bunch of kids from River Heights started killing themselves or each other that something wouldn’t be done.”

(Perpetuating the idea racialized indifference exists in the Winnipeg Police Service.)

Dan Vandal – Winnipeg City Councillor

“There’s a horrible phenomenon going on in Canada and we have to do all things necessary to try to affect change in a positive way.”

(Perpetuating the myth the killings are mysterious to justify calls for a National Inquiry.)

Violence Against Indigenous Women


  • 3 Indigenous female victims of homicide
  • 3 Indigenous women & 1 Indigenous man charged in the killings
  • Killers were previously known to victims in all cases
  • (1 case remains unsolved – Marilyn Rose Munroe)


  • 3 Indigenous female victims of homicide
  • 3 Indigenous men charged in the killings
  • Killers were previously known to victims in all cases


  • 7 Indigenous female victims of homicide
  • 4 Indigenous men, 1 Indigenous woman and 1 non-Indigenous man (Rayomd Joseph Cormier – Tina Flett) charged in the killings
  • Killers were previously known to the victims in all cases
  • (1 case remains unsolved – Angela Poorman)

(According to RCMP data, strangers account for less than 8% of the killings of Indigenous women.)


The #MMIW End Game – Solution Buried Under the Great Canadian Lie


  1. Hi James,

    Thanks for sharing the statistics that, hopefully, will come out in full bloom during the MMIW study. I certainly support the many comments as discussed and defined by your readership. However I do support the Winnipeg Police getting out in front of the brewing issue dealing with the media advisory inviting a media discussion on the missing persons article from the Winnipeg Free Press- 2016.

    You and I both lived through the 1988 JJ Harper shooting. It was tragic on all accounts and we knew so many of the fine officers involved- as friends, brothers, sisters, sons, daughters of our city. We also lived through the fall-out, blame and accusations on all accounts against the Chief, investigators, attending officers and Bob Cross. Bob was a strong, capable officer, who, on all accounts, also happened to be there at the wrong time. If it wasn’t for a bit of luck on my part, getting injured a few weeks prior during a high-speed chase and subsequent foot pursuit, that might have been me.

    Anyways, the one nagging question I had, which really sent me into a pursuit of understanding the media, was why we were not getting out front and fully transparent on this matter. The answer was simple- we did not know how to handle the media. We entered a ‘bunker’ mentality of hunkering down and letting the bombs fall. It didn’t work and, as a lesson, will never work when we really can address certain points, in a strategic manner- with discussions with public affairs professionals (and probably lawyers). The end decision to release is with the Chief. Transparency emerged and the risk was taken. I have to support that decision.

    I am not sure how this media event played out however it had to be played out.

    We may have had our issues in 1988 but I can honestly say that the men and women I worked with had no intended biases against aboriginals- it was just a matter of constant and continual involvement with the vulnerable victims in a significantly usual circumstance involving alcohol, assaults and robberies. However there was never lessening of the investigation if conditions dictated so. I was proud when I wore the uniform of the Winnipeg Police and prouder to now have my daughter wearing the uniform and carrying on a family tradition- one where our metis background now comes into play.

    Major Mike Lagace, MBA- Public Relations and Communications
    Senior Public Affairs Officer
    Canadian Armed Forces

  2. Am so sick and tired of the catering to the indigenous as we listen to their lies, victim/blame game, hatred and racial slurs. Our police do a great job and it is high time the Aboriginals start to face the truth as to their crime rate, and that their own people are killing their own while they act all pure as the driven snow and superior. Bowman has shown his discriminating colors in not exposing the liars but is catering to those who are making Winnipeg (especially downtown) into a real sh*thole!!

  3. It’s utterly shameful that Mayor Brian Bowman sits quietly at the wayside while the men and women of the WPS are once again being thrown under the bus. He has once again missed an important opportunity to confront wild, erroneous accusations levelled at the police and citizens of Winnipeg. The indigenous community continues to hurl racist and inflammatory remarks with fingers pointing in all directions. His silence speaks volumes.

    Thanks, James, for using your platform to spread truth, facts, and reason. I wish our politicians had a fraction of your backbone.

  4. Elizabeth Luke

    Poverty, addictions and a break down in the family and community structure are the fundamental issues. How can empathy be derived from distrust, disrespect and negative rhetoric. To blame and not take responsibility or provide reasonable solutions will only build walls that become impenetrable. Leaders who will not address the real issues for fear of losing popularity are not leaders. Leaders who propagate fear, distrust and hatred are not leaders.

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