Why I support a public inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women

The tragic death of Tina Fontaine has brought renewed calls for a public inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women.

There may be some who worry that a public inquiry will turn up things that cast a negative light on our history as a nation. That may be true. But facing the truth will not weaken us, it will strengthen us, both now and in the long run. It takes true courage and strength to face our past in an open and honest way.

The fact is that this is an ongoing problem. So it’s not enough to investigate deaths after they happen. We need to find a way to prevent the deaths from happening, and an inquiry could help achieve that goal.

A public inquiry would accomplish something else of importance as well. It would send a clear message that the issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women is seen as worthy of national attention.

Injustice and despair thrives in the shadows. An inquiry could bring these things into the light. An inquiry would send a message that, while we can’t change our past, we are willing to learn from it.

Yes, an inquiry could bring up some dark truths. Yet, by facing those truths with clear eyes and open hearts, we can learn, grow, and respond together, as one nation.

I believe that Canada will not achieve our full potential until all who live within our borders feel respected and valued, and feel like an equal part of our Canadian family.

A public inquiry would be an important step along the road to healing, and greater security for all. That is why I support a public inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women.


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  1. Hundreds of Manitobans attended a vigil at Alexander Docks in Winnipeg, Man., on Tues., Aug. 16, 2014 to honour the memory of two aboriginal people.

    The bodies of Tina Fontaine and Faron Hall were found in two separate recoveries on Sun., Aug. 17, 2014. (Brook Jones/QMI Agency File)
    Before we rush out and spend tens of millions of dollars on a national inquiry to figure out why so many aboriginal women have been murdered over the past few decades, maybe we should start looking at who’s doing the killing.
    According to an RCMP report released in May, the vast majority of murdered aboriginal women were not killed by strangers, they were killed by spouses, boyfriends, family members or acquaintances of the victims.

    “Female homicide victims generally know the person who kills them — more than 90%
    had a previous relationship with them,” said the report. “This is true for aboriginal and non-aboriginal female victims.”
    We know who’s killing aboriginal women. Most of them are men — 89%.
    Close to 40% of the killers were either the spouses or boyfriends of the victims,
    23% of them were family members, and 30% were acquaintances.
    Only a small minority of the killers were strangers — 8%.
    So the picture that the aboriginal lobby is trying to paint, that aboriginal women and girls are being plucked off the street randomly by strangers and are being killed, is false, according to the facts.
    In the vast majority of the killings, aboriginal women were murdered over arguments, frustration and despair or jealousy with their spouses, boyfriends, family members or acquaintances, according to the report. And in most cases, they were murdered in someone’s residence.
    Instead of targeting the people who are actually doing the killing, though, the aboriginal lobby wants to blame it on society as a whole, including government and police. They want to blame the Harper government for not calling a national inquiry. And they want to blame police, even though the clearance rate for all murdered women — including aboriginal women — is close to 90%
    They don’t want to talk about the people doing the killing because the killers, for the most part, are also aboriginal. Aboriginal men are killing aboriginal women.
    It’s so politically incorrect to talk about that, not even the RCMP were willing to put it in their report. They broke down the perpetrators by age, their relationship to the victim, their employment status, whether they collected welfare and if they had previous criminal involvement. So they obviously know who the killers are.
    Yet they don’t identify them by race. So it’s OK to identify the victims by race — more than 1,000 murdered aboriginal women between 1980 and 2012 — but it’s somehow not relevant to identify the race of the offender.
    The reality is, the profiles of those who murder aboriginal women and the circumstances surrounding those killings are almost identical to those of all murdered women, regardless of race, according to the RCMP report.
    In the vast majority of murders against women, the perpetrator knew the victim, the killings were over issues like arguments, jealousy, despair, and most of the homicides occurred in residences.
    This is a problem of violence against women generally, not just against aboriginal
    women or any other race of women.
    So why are the aboriginal lobby and many in the media calling for a national inquiry into the murders of aboriginal women?
    Because it’s politically fashionable.
    It sounds compassionate.
    Some people want to feel like they’re part of Canada’s intelligentsia so they jump on the bandwagon and call for a national inquiry into murdered and missing aboriginal women.
    Even if a national inquiry into violence against women generally — regardless of race — is a good idea, then proponents of one should give us concrete reasons why this type of probe would help. I mean specific reasons, not vague pronouncements about opening the door to new funding opportunities or better programming.
    That’s gibberish. It has no meaning.
    We know the people who are doing the killing. It’s time to stop putting our heads in the sand and start being honest about who is killing all women, not just aboriginal women.
    The race-card approach is getting really old.

    Perpetrator Spouse
    Aboriginal 29%
    Non-Aboriginal 41%

    Perpetrator Other family
    Aboriginal 23%

    Perpetrator Other intimate
    Aboriginal 10%

    Perpetrator Acquaintance
    Aboriginal 30%
    non-aboriginal 19%

    Perpetrator Stranger
    aboriginal 8%
    non-aboriginal 7%

    perpetrator Unknown
    aboriginal 1%
    non-aboriginal 0%

    Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women:
    A National Operational Overview (RCMP, May 2014)

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