MMIW report’s notable omissions lead to some bewildering recommendations
Chris Selley – Post Media
Much of the immediate commentary and discussion about the final report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, which was released Monday, concerns its characterization of the titular issue as “genocide.”
“The violence the National Inquiry heard amounts to a race-based genocide of Indigenous Peoples, including First Nations, Inuit and Métis, which especially targets women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people,” the report declares. Among the first headlines was one noting that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau “avoided” using the G-word in his remarks on its findings, settling for “shameful” and “unacceptable.”
The inquiry’s legal analysis concedes it is a novel deployment of the term. It seems far more comfortable alleging a historical genocide against “Indigenous Peoples” that involved specific targeting of women — for example through forced sterilization, which is acknowledged as a genocidal technique in the 1948 UN convention — than it does a genocide against Indigenous women and girls specifically. But the insistence upon the term speaks volumes about this peculiar inquiry’s tortured birth, and about some of its more perplexing recommendations.
Indigenous women have certainly been targets for violence and discrimination in particular ways throughout Canada’s history. Today they suffer disproportionately from violent crime, relative to Indigenous men, in a way that non-Indigenous women do not. The rate of self-reported sexual assault among Indigenous women in the 2014 General Social Survey (GSS) was more than triple that of non-Indigenous women. An astonishing 61 per cent of Indigenous women aged 15-25 reported violent victimization in the previous 12 months — nearly six times the rate for Indigenous men the same age.
But if Indigenous victims of violence even today can be said to be casualties of colonialist genocide, then the subset who are by far the most “especially targeted” — which is to say dead — are men. Between 2014 and 2017, Statistics Canada reports there were 139 Indigenous female homicide victims, and 428 Indigenous male victims — three times as many. (Similarly, non-Indigenous men were murdered two-and-a-half times more often than non-Indigenous women.)
Two years ago, there was some perfunctory consideration of “including men” in the inquiry. That didn’t happen, and the inquiry’s findings and recommendations labour under that omission. You simply can’t separate the two phenomena.
Statistics Canada’s analysis of the 2014 GSS data found that Indigenous identity wasn’t a risk factor for the overall Indigenous population. “Rather, the higher rates of victimization … appeared to be related to the increased presence of other risk factors among this group — such as experiencing childhood maltreatment, perceiving social disorder in one’s neighbourhood, having been homeless, using drugs, or having fair or poor mental health.” – Post Media
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I still maintain that the solution to many Indigenous peoples social woes is located in the home community. The reserves. If you want change, that is where it needs to be made.
Remote locations. Social isolation. Incompetent band administrators. No jobs. Substandard education. No future. Addictions. How can anyone thrive under those conditions?
If the City of Thunder Bay is considered a Utopia compared to your home community, then your home community has serious problems.