For as long as most of us remember the indigenous population of Canada have constantly been suppressed by the police, medical centers, educators, the general population, and all together our own government. I think we can all agree it is about time we put a stop to this outrageousness. The week of March 6th, more precisely International Women’s Week, was celebrated at Vanier College with over 15 events speaking about how we can help promote a change in our society as well as be good allies to the minorities experiencing said discrimination. The last event was called “Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls: How do we End the Violence?” The speaker was part of an organization called “The Iskweu Project”. The Iskweu project is meant to be a bridge between police and indigenous families, they also accompany indigenous women to file police reports as well as escort them to the hospital to make sure they get treated fairly. The sole fact that we need to worry about the people who are there to protect us, and if they will be harming indigenous women is gut wrenching. The Iskweu project shouldnt have a reason to exist in the first place, but sadly it is a necessity in today’s world.
One of, if not the biggest problem when it comes to missing and murdered indigenous women, is the lack of response gotten from the police. In most cases the families of the missing indigenous women get told to “wait more time, they will show up” or “they are probably out partying or running away”. When a white family reports a missing daughter, action is immediately taken to find her. It is a well known fact that the 48 hours after someone has gone missing is crucial to finding them. It can easily be argued that the lack of response from police officers is a determining factor to the higher rates of missing and murdered indigenous women. For a matter of fact, Indigenous women are twelve times more likely to go missing or be murdered than any other woman in Canada.
Not only is the lack of response from police officers a problem, but the trust broken between the first nation communities and the armed forces is too. Firstly the RCMP (Police officers) were the ones who took the children away from their families to bring them to the residential schools, they also abused indigenous women in multiple instances, as well as enforcing a sedentary lifestyle on their communities by killing all of their slay dogs. You don’t have to be very empathetic to understand that these actions taken by our government will clearly have long lasting effects on the indigenous population. The government should be doing more than saying sorry and putting a bandaid on a problem much bigger than a simple scratch on the knee. Because not only has the police broken the trust between them and these communities, but the government has directly done it by putting in place multiple discriminatory laws. For starters, for many decades they have denied women their status as being indigenous for the sole fact of being women, today many are still not considered indigenous and are struggling to find a way to prove they are. Not only this but the separation of their communities to the rest of Canada by putting them in reserves, and letting the reserves stay in conditions that could be considered 3rd world. Not to mention the obvious, the neglectful and abusive residential school that caused unthinkable trauma for the whole community, a trauma that is still being felt immensely today.
But what can we do to help? You may be wondering. You don’t have to spend money on donating to charities (although that would be helpful). You can speak out and confront people when discriminatory events happen, you can inform yourself and inform others, you can message people in power, but most importantly you should go to the vigils, see the effects this has on people in person and understand the change that is needed, not only should you attend vigils but you should attend protests whenever possible. For more information I encourage you to go check out The Iskweu Projects instagram account @iskweuproject.
By: Morgane Paquet