David P. Ball/The Tyee
What we can't afford is the loss of more indigenous women. Women's Memorial March, Vancouver, 2012.

We Can Afford a Missing Women's Inquiry: It's Not Just Another Study

Niki Ashton, The Tyee
4/10/15

Editor’s note: This opinion piece originally appeared in The Tyee on February 27. There are still a few days left to help this outlet of independent journalism reach its fund-raising goal of $75,000 for federal election coverage by April 13. More information is here. Reprinted with permission.

RELATED: Time Is Running Out to Support Pro-Native Journalism in Canada; Help Fund The Tyee!

If the Harper government has been successful at one thing, it is perpetuating the myth that indigenous peoples in Canada can either have an inquiry or they can have "action" to end the epidemic of missing and murdered indigenous women. Many have challenged this notion presented by federal ministers on a near daily basis.

Challenging this false exclusivity is important for me as the Aboriginal Affairs critic for the federal New Democratic Party. That our government would choose against taking steps to end violence against indigenous women is as offensive as the thought that aboriginal families do not deserve a thorough inquiry into the deaths and disappearances of more than 1,200 women.   

Indigenous women not only deserve a government that will do both, but it is their right to demand that they do. Governing is about priorities, and when Harper and his ministers tell indigenous people that they must choose between justice and safety, they are telling them that the memories of their loved ones and the future safety of their daughters are in competition with one another for funding, and that neither are true priorities.

Today, families, the 13 provinces and territories, national aboriginal organizations, and two federal ministers will gather in an Ottawa hotel to listen and be heard on the subject of missing and murdered indigenous women. It is worth noting that the federal government has not organized or paid for any part of this gathering. In fact, it took many months for the minister of Aboriginal Affairs and the minister of the Status of Women to commit to attending. The prime minister has not made it a priority and is not attending.

First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities are debating the merits and potential outcomes of such a roundtable. Without speculating as to its effectiveness, I believe in the merit of an official meeting of families, governments and national aboriginal organizations. Indigenous peoples have called for the provinces and Ottawa to sit down with them and engage formally on this subject for many years. This roundtable is symbolic of the fact that Canadians have recognized that this problem is endemic, systemic, and that we all have a role to play in addressing it.

What Does Harper Fear?

Unfortunately, I know that the federal representatives will use this opportunity to recite their favourite talking point: they'll say we can have either an inquiry or "action," because inquiries are very expensive. They'll say we don't need an inquiry, that it's just another study, and we already have lots of studies.

The truth is that Canada can afford both an inquiry and anti-violence services and programs. Canada can afford these things if we make them a priority. The Harper government has spent over $2.3 million photographing federal ministers. This is an example of one of their priorities.

What we can't afford is to lose more indigenous women.  

An inquiry is not the same thing as a parliamentary study. An inquiry is arm's length, has the ability to compel truthful testimony, and will be empowered to probe into the RCMP and legal justice bodies in a way that a parliamentary committee never could. The recommendations from an inquiry are objective and widely publicized.

It's true that we have conducted several parliamentary studies on the issue. I've sat through several. The parliamentary studies are not objective. The fact that they have gone nowhere and yielded little action is precisely why we need an arm's length inquiry. Perhaps the inquiry can look at the studies that have piled up and question why successive Liberal and Conservative governments have not followed up on their recommendations.

We must ask ourselves why Stephen Harper so emphatically rejects the idea of an inquiry. Is he worried that it will raise questions regarding the government's continued underfunding of First Nations schools, shelters, housing and health services? Is he is frightened by the deeply rooted, systemic racism that it might expose in our country?

Without knowing the answers to these questions, I am left to wonder. One thing I do know, however, is that the reason Canada has not yet struck a national public inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women or committed to comprehensive action is not because we can't afford it.

Niki Ashton is the MP for Churchill, Manitoba and the New Democratic Party (NDP) critic for Aboriginal Affairs.

You need to be logged in in order to post comments
Please use the log in option at the bottom of this page

POST A COMMENT

Comments

David E.H. Smith's picture
David E.H. Smith
Submitted by David E.H. Smith on
More POLITICAL INTERFERENCE of RCMP Investigations 'kills' Female Aboriginal Advocates, RCMP officers' morale & DE-RAILS & Controls 'INQUIRIES'/Commissions. Do Native Women, et al, Have the Right to Freedom of Fear of Retribution; "DISAPPEARED" & "SUICIDE-D" Activists along "DEATH-POTS" Highway (#16)? Native Women, et al, Expectations of Freedom from Fear of Retribution in Due Diligence Info SHARING & Consultations; Deliberate,'Illegal', &/or, Unethical DEPRIVATION of INFO Re; 'Domestic' & Foreign Treaties Basis for Suing Corp.Can. & its Global Assocs. Corporate Assocs. to Sue Corp.Can. for Fraud While Reopening Both Treaties to Guarantee Provisions of The WAD Accord & Transparent Negotiations to Access Natural Resources? HUMAN NATURE; How Cultures & Traditions can be used to explain Corruption, Info Deprivation & Bullying to Protect the Power of 'Death-Pots'. Does CORPORATE CANADA Prefer Limelight on 'Race' not Shareholders' Dividends versus harmless NON shareholders, both; Native & non Native? CorpCan's 'FOREIGN' ASSOCIATES, TERRIFIED if Native Male Political Leaders Implicated in 'Disappearing' Native Women's Advocates. After reading about the fears of retaliation of the Native Canadian women at the Special House of Commons Committee on Violence Against Indigenous Women, by powerful chiefs & councils for questioning & improving the chiefs/councils plans & decisions, etc., it has been suggested that it might be easier to minimize any potential for negative 'stereo typing' of Native chiefs & their councils by: 1) the most vulnerable Native community members (95% - 99% of the members of Native communities), 2) non Native funders of Native communities & 3) et al, by pointing out once again, but, with greater emphasis, that the most vulnerable community members, both; Native & non Native, are slowly & painfully becoming aware of the threat that is posed to the bullying, information depriving despots (Death-Pots) by way of the sharing of the relevant information, in forums that have eliminated the fear of retaliation. And, therefore, in regard to the recent, June 5, 2014, comments by the grand chief of the Association of Iroquois and Allied Indians Gordon Peters about negative 'stereotypes', it has also been suggested that Mr. Peters needn't be concerned as Native & non Native Canadians have made: 1) the distinctions between the bullying despots & the most vulnerable community members & 2) the distinctions between those chiefs & councils that want/need their community members to start getting the relevant information, including the information & questions in The WAD Accord & its Compensation and those chiefs & councils who need to keep their community members in the dark in order to supplicate the most 'vulnerables' to limited beliefs & 'hopes' and thereby, maintain, &/or, enhance their abusive powers. Perhaps, Mr. Peters can take some solace in knowing that he may be able to learn more about which bullying, information depriving despots are presently being 'de-stereotyped'. Some of the chiefs & councils may even graciously admit that some of the more abusive aspects of human nature are being used & rationalized by despots by claims that the abuse of their power is based upon tradition, &/or, culture that excludes the comprehension of the abuses by non Natives. Doesn't this suggest that unless you are in the position of being able to be bullied, etc., then you are incapable of, &/or, should be prohibited from helping those who are being bullied by providing the information & safe forums for the discussion, sharing, improving information, plans, etc. before they become a decision that are acted upon & the human costs are added up? There are many examples of this 'helping' precedent in other human communities around the globe. The potential sponsors of this 'helping process' understand the importance of identifying, investigating, prosecuting & enforcing the prevention of the abusers from continuing their abuse. Similarly, the potential sponsors can assist the most vulnerable community members to ascertain the amount of compensation they are due for previous abuse. These sponsors who are being considered have also observed & understand that the political abuse of the RCMP is causing a great deal of morale problems within the non union service (see; Paul Palango; 'Dispersing the Fog'). Therefore, it is for the aforementioned reasons that the potential sponsors would like to be considered to help the most vulnerable community members eliminate their fears & help the most vulnerable develop the natural resources that are accessed by way of the community's lands. These are also the lands that have already been secretly 'negotiated', &/or, are in the process of being secretly 'negotiated' within Canada by way of the despots & without the full due diligence sharing of the information with the most vulnerable community members. There are several reasons why some of these foreign corporate sponsors might be considered. They are: 1) basically, to understand & perhaps prevent bullying despots from making secret arrangements whereby, in exchange for: a) the despots' cooperation to endorse the last minute 'new' &'improved' environmental & safety standards, etc. for their projects that may be derived from the C – CI Treaty, the EU – Canada CET Agreement, the TP Partnership, et al & b) the 'protection' provided by the bullies for the potential foreign participants/ investors from the most vulnerable community members, the potential foreign participants/investors may exclusively & secretly reward the bullies financially & thereby, further legitimize the bullies power & control by way the bullies' mechanisms of fear. 2) some of the potential foreign participants are as disgusted with the 'unethical' & 'inhumane' arrangements of corporate Canada & their representatives in the government of Canada as many Native & non Native Canadians, et al, are. One potential participant said: 'It's not that we are racist when it comes to dealing with Canadians, it's just that we can't stand the way that you suck up to us'. That is to say; while corporate Canada & its political representatives 'suck up' to the 'coveted' foreign investor, the 'Canadians' also 'shi...', uh, “purge down”. It may be regrettable that this bullying is just part of human nature? Isn't our job to identify & to minimize, &/or, eliminate it. Therefore, while the most vulnerable Native community members may be looking for a much 'better' deal that protects their rights to live & express themselves in the absence of fear, isn't it reasonable to assume that they can also expect to start getting the aforementioned relevant information for their humble consideration, including The Compensation that is embodied in The W.A.D. Accord? So, does the 'much better deal' by way of these 'foreign' countries include: 1) the elimination of the bullying by the information depriving despots, & 2) enabling the employment opportunities that can equal those non Native Canadians & then use the “better deal” to shrink the financial disparity between: the 95% - 99% of the communities' most vulnerable members & the 1% - 5% of the existing political & financial bullies, both; Native & non Native? & 3) et al. But, aren't the above reasons why The W.A.D. Accord (aka; The Australian Question) was developed in the first place? That is to say, The Accord was developed in order to ensure that the most vulnerable community members are getting the relevant information & are getting the opportunity to consider, to discuss, to ask questions about it, to improve, to create alternatives, to reject, etc., the information & questions in The Accord, including The Compensation that is embodied in it? By way of closing, now that Mr. Peters' concerns about negative stereotyping have been laid to rest, the most vulnerable community members, et al, might also consider some of the other areas of information that they are continuing to be deprived of that can be, &/or, are being abused by the the aforementioned bullies in order to strengthen their, the bullies', 'legitimacy' besides: 1) the on going land settlements & treaty rights negotiations, 2) the development of Aboriginal self-governance & 3) et al? And, finally, how do you, the readers in North America, China, the European Union, the Trans Pacific nations, et al, think that these human nature issues can be redressed by The WAD Accord? I look forward to reading about your questions, your comments, your improvements, etc., regarding the above & the information listed below. Sincerely, David E.H. Smith - Researcher - “Qui tam..." ****** Also see; "HELP IS ON THE WAY; UN's Mr. Anaya, et al." ****** Please consider sharing the enclosed information & questions with 10 friends who will share it with 10 others & so on... ****** To SHARE Information & Questions re; The Relationship between Human (Nature) Rights & Economics in 1) the C-CI Treaty, the CET Agreement, TPP, et al, and 2) Native Canadian Treaties via The WAD Accord & to access the List of RECENT ARTICLES, LETTERS & NOTIFICATIONS by DEHS. see; davidehsmith.wordpress.com
1