RCMP reports over 1,000 missing Aboriginal women
This year, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police released a report stating that since the 1980s up until 2012 there have been a total of 1,181 cases of missing and murdered Aboriginal women in Canada. According to the report, 225 of these cases remain unsolved.
The Native Women’s Association of Canada initially began collecting data before the report was compiled. However, due to limited resources, they were unable to acquire all of the correct numbers.
Consequently, NWAC urged the RCMP to collect data from all police forces across Canada regarding missing and murdered Aboriginal women in order to advocate the necessary resources for combatting mistreatment of Aboriginal women.
Michèle Audette, president of NWAC said, “Aboriginal women seem to be like a target … Aboriginal women are the most vulnerable group here among Canadian sisters and the rest of Canadian people in Canada.”
According to Audette, the atrocities done toward Aboriginal women are most commonly occurring around British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, however there is also a prevalence of human trafficking in Ontario. Despite the focus on these provinces, the problem of violence against Aboriginal women is nationwide.
“It’s a situation that exists across Canada. The violence that Aboriginal women are facing is everywhere, in the community, urban or rural,” Audette explained. “The discrimination is also everywhere. It’s another layer.”
Following the release of the report, the incident received huge media attention from Canadian mainstream outlets. These news sources served the purpose solely to inform the Canadian public about the report that was released by the RCMP.
According to Audette and Kandice Baptiste, Aboriginal students recruitment and retention officer at Wilfrid Laurier University, the media could have provided the Canadian public with a different perspective in order to further stress the importance of raising awareness.
“It was really a public security perspective. I am sure they were biting their tongues or lips for not saying there is a need for national public enquiry,” Audette said.
Baptiste explained, “Our communities have been calling for an inquiry into missing and murdered women for a long time, and that hasn’t been one that the Canadian government has been willing to move.”
Instead of furthering research into inquiry, the government is allocating their resources to punishing perpetrators more severely and strengthening the Criminal Code.
According to Baptiste however, this is an inadequate solution. In order for the problem to be eradicated, further awareness needs to advocate to non-indigenous peoples in Canada.
In response to the report, the RCMP implemented four major recommendations regarding the victims, services and exchanging information, but this may still not be enough.
“We have to put in place a mechanism where we are able to evaluate what they are proposing, and it is really accurate and the performance is good,” said Audette.
The problems being faced by indigenous women are far from solved, but the RCMP and NWAC are slowly coming together in order to collaborate and solve problems. The announcement of the report was the first step in addressing the present problems.
“We have to stop to normalize violence of as a part of our life,” said Audette.