When it comes to the unsettling it may not be wise to rely on “official” versions or numbers, and I suspect that’s the case with Canada’s missing and murdered indigenous women.
As a demographic the first nations people of Canada compose about four percent of the population and something like sixteen percent of murdered women.
There are those who dispute the victim count asserting it is higher, and I suspect they are correct in doing so – either way though it’s somewhat simplistic to say the numbers are merely disproportionate or something to argue over as though numbers are just figures on a piece of paper.
That isn’t to say more women of different ethnicities should go missing or murdered to balance the scale, rather that indigenous women are being targeted and the Canadian government needs to step up and proactively address the issue.
The relationship between the Canadian government and the first nations mirrors that of the relationship between the U.S. government and it’s own indigenous people, strained, and often indifferent is to put it mildly.
On both sides of the border poverty and disenfranchisement characterize the indifference, and it is axiomatic that the treatment of the least among any nations population to great degree define the national governmental character.
In the day to day world of the individual truth can at times become inconvenient, but I’m of the opinion that this inconvenience and discomfort factor is multiplied when viewed through the lens of politicians and office holders as the truth often comes in the form of an indictment – they will and can talk the talk but exhibit difficulty in waking the walking and following through.
The human aspect becomes secondary to the perceived “problem” and gives rise to terms like the “ndn problem.
A “problem” that continues to exist and inexorably linked to history – the history of genocide, conquest, reserves and reservations more fittingly referred to as gulags, policies past and present, and the very disenfranchisement and poverty that have resulted.
No one can deny that women are murdered and abused on the rez by individuals residing within their own communities, but it would be a lie to ascribe the disproportionate number of missing and murdered women to that circumstance – yet it too though it may be an inconvenient truth needs to be addressed.
What fuels the numbers beyond the rez can be attributed to the drug trade and human trafficking, the connection between the two are undeniable to me.
On the surface at least it seems doubtful that there isn’t a woman alive anywhere who couldn’t become the victim of an abuser or sexual predator, and that’s a pretty sad societal commentary.
But the farther down a woman is on the socio economic ladder the risk increases, and it would be difficult to find a more impoverished demographic within the U.S and Canada than indigenous people.
The “ndn problem” is a created one, there is no traditional foundation for it’s existence, and as such obliges those who created the problem to address it if not in a caring and compassionate manner then in a conscientious way.
Addressing such an issue can only bear fruit if done so in a cooperative way between nations, communities, and governments.
Distrust and suspicion will have to be overcome, no small task all things considered, but since the nations are no longer sovereign in the truest sense of the word there doesn’t seem to be any other viable approach.
As a people we can control what takes place in our communities if we have the will and determination to do so, but that ability incrementally decreases the moment we leave them and we find the same dependency that haunts us on the rez follows us around like a shadow.
People everywhere dream of a Utopia, a return to Eden, and that’s exactly what it is, a dream.
Too many global, national, and environmental problems for the so called Age of Aquarius to take place – what we are left with is an individual and communal responsibility to be and live strong, to have values and adhere to them, to remember and not forget what it is to be a human being and settle for nothing less than for our women, our children, and ourselves to be treated as such.