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Editorial: Twenty-four years of activism; little change

by The Concordian February 17, 2015
Editorial: Twenty-four years of activism; little change

Missing and murdered aboriginal women cause still prevalent issue in Canada


It’s been 24 years since feet first hit the pavement for missing and murdered Aboriginal women. In 1991, the first march took place in Vancouver, calling attention to the epidemic crime against women in Aboriginal communities. They denounced the government’s inaction; the police’s cold shoulder; the RCMP’s deaf ear.


They are familiar words.


It’s been 24 years. What has changed?


In a 2014 RCMP report, the agency conceded that “Aboriginal women are over-represented among Canada’s murdered and missing women” and “that the total number of murdered and missing Aboriginal females exceeds previous public estimates”. The document goes so far as  to look at probable cause: they estimate only one per cent of missing Aboriginal women are runaways. Comparatively, unknown circumstances and foul play represent a 37 and 27 per cent, respectively.


In cases officially deemed a homicide, Aboriginal women have been consistent and familiar victims for decades. Over a 32-year period, Aboriginal women represented 55 per cent of all female homicide victims in Saskatchewan. Fourty-nine per cent in Manitoba. Nationally, 16 per cent of all female homicide victims are Aboriginal; but Aboriginal women only account for 4.3 per cent of the female population.


24 years. What has changed?


Not enough.


The fact that this is a topic still worthy of an editorial shows how much we have failed. Decades of marching has offered awareness, but not justice. Authorities offer kind words and inquiries, but not solutions. Aboriginal women continue to be over-represented in crime, and under-represented in policy. They continue to vanish on our highways, in our streets and in their homes.


Canada as a country has blocked its ears to Aboriginal plight since its inception. Today, we look back on colonization and residential schools as an evil of the past, as a transgression we have atoned for through kind words and public knowledge. But as long as the voices calling for justice remain marginalized, until our country raises its voice as one community seeking justice, we will be doomed to repeat past mistakes.


History repeats—has been repeating—for 24 long, long years: nothing’s changed.


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