2016—2017 · Vol. 44 No. 2



Murdered and missing indigenous women and girls—Canada’s Crisis

When a mother receives the news that her daughter is missing, she is, of course, overcome with worry and alarm. And when she receives the devastating news that her daughter has been found murdered, the pain is almost unbearable. Each year, on October 4, vigils are held around the country to remember and demand justice for more than 582 women and girls who, according to the Native Women’s Association of Canada, are either missing or murdered. The majority of the cases in the database happened from 2000–2010, but we know that missing and murdered indigenous women and girls have been reported since 1944. The RCMP’s own report states that there are more than 1200 indigenous women and girls who have been murdered or are missing in Canada. Over half of these cases remain unsolved. This is a crisis in Canada.

The Canadian government has finally launched an inquiry into the systemic causes behind the violence that indigenous women and girls experience and their greater vulnerability to that violence. Dr. Linda Many Guns, Native studies professor at the University of Lethbridge, says that, “the focus needs to be on developing a system that’s going to stop the murders rather than just identify people who are missing.”

Regrettably, the violence doesn’t only affect the women who are missing or killed. This violence is intergenerational. Most of the missing and murdered women had children, and of the missing and murdered women who are in the Canadian database, half are under 31 years of age. Aboriginal women and girls are three and a half times more likely to be killed by a stranger than non-Aboriginal women. The inquiry will hopefully explain this enormous difference.

These women and girls have been largely forgotten by our society. Only through years of vigils and outrage expressed through demonstrations has the government finally felt compelled to answer the demand for a proper inquiry. We must never forget these women and girls, and we must never stop fighting to end this violence.

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