Canadian activists don’t just sit down, and they’ve responded to the ongoing issue of MMIWG, through protesting and spreading awareness in various ways. On the other hand, the Canadian government has done nothing but kept quiet and has made no effort to solve this issue. However, I praise👌 Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for at least recognizing this as an issue.
To a crowd in Vancouver he said “We accept their findings, including that what happened amounts to genocide” refers to the number of murdered and missing Indigenous women.
But his cabinet has yet to do anything about the issue, while activist groups like Assembly of First Nations, Native Women’s Association and Indigenous Services Canada have made some ground.
Indigenous organizations continue to spread the word and rebuild communities
Even though the government seems to lack interest in Indigenous issues, organizations like the National Inquiry of MMIWG have spread awareness and tried to rebuild communities. They have held protests and supported research programs to find evidence that back MMIWG. In total, this organization has spent $92 million on National Inquiry into Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls. The organization has determined murders and disappearances of Indigenous women a ‘Canadian genocide’. In 2017, they’ve held 24 hearings and events to gather statements across Canada. 2,380 Canadians attend the events. Many survivors of violence, family members of missing and murdered women and girls, Indigenous knowledge keepers, experts and officials attend the meetings. With the money put into research they’ve found out over 4000 Indigenous women have died in the past couple of decades.
They also claim that police racism is the reason why many of the cases of MMWIG hasn’t been solved.
According to Fay Blaney, a First Nations activist “It’s the reason why Indigenous women’s cases are never resolved, because of police racism. And if you’re not actually looking at police racism then you’re not looking at what the problem is — you’re dancing around the outside.”
Another amazing organization that I feel that had helped Indigenous women the most is the Native Woman’s Association of Canada. They’ve provided Indigenous skills & employment training, scholarships and bursaries and an Entrepreneur navigation program for Indigenous women. Apart from that, they also raised questions about genocide to the Canadian government and created polices sections.
Anti-Indigenous racism seen across Canada, affecting the most Vulnerable
I never thought I would associate racism with Canada, however, Anti-Indigenous racism has been a plague that has been affecting them for generations. It mostly affects the vulnerable ones in the community being the women, as they are more likely to be discriminated against.
The police are known for failing to protect Indigenous women, and often abuse them instead. According to Human Rights Watch, abusive policing has failed to protect Indigenous women but instead harms them. The relation between the RCMP and Indigenous women is dysfunctional, as they are known to abuse them. HWR has documented the RCMP violating the human rights code, by pepper spraying, tasering and attacking young Indigenous women by officers who were called for help. Male officers strip-search and these women are often severely injured after being arrested. Disturbing allegations of rape were brought up, and particularly a case in 2012 said, that officers would threaten to kill victims who would speak out. This has led many Indigenous women to distance themselves from police officers, and often avoiding them during dangerous times.
When I was a child I thought of Police officers were our friends, someone who protected criminal activity. However, today I realize how racism is deeply rooted in the police force in Canada, and why many Indigenous people refrain from interacting with them.
Going back to the novel The Break, it clearly shows systemic racism against Indigenous women, leading to unresolved cases of MMIWG. Vermette has shown prejudice shown by the police in many ways with the character Christie.
She writes, “ ‘Ah, you getting your poll-eece in-stinked on, son?’ Christie laughs. He has one of those congested smoker laughs. ‘I wouldn’t worry about it May-tee. She’s just a crazy bitch is all. Dime a dozen, those kinds.’ Tommy just cringes. She was troubled, that’s for sure, dishevelled and clearly emotional. ‘I don’t think it’s a sex assault,’ Christie says, with authority,”(Vermette 70).
This quotation refers to the white police officer Christie ignoring the claim of a sexual assault of Indigenous women by an Indigenous woman who witnessed the crime in front of her eyes. Instead of looking into the crime scene, he ignores he claims immediately and describes her as a “crazy bitch”.
In my opinion, this depicts prejudice in our police system, and I think this was a very good idea for Vermette to place this issue in her book.
Indigenous Resistances seen across Canada, as Protestors continue to seek justice
Indigenous people are not the type of people to be toiled with. They are often seen standing up for each other in horrible times. This has shown me how strong of a community First Nations and Metis people are. I’ve learned that Indigenous resistance can be seen in Canadian history. For example, in the Oka Crisis, the Mohawk tribe protested against the government who were planning to extend a gold course over their ancestral burial grounds. I would be very pissed off if the Canadian would do that to my people, and I feel why Mohawk people stood up against the racist Canadian government.
That was a prime example of Indigenous people showing resistance and we’re able to see that when they protest for the Missing and Murdered Indigenous women. They are known to hold peaceful protests in front of the government, often causing no harm or distractions. I believe the protests are held to educate people like me, who might not know as much about these critical issues that occur in Canada. In 2019, they held a silent protest in Montreal metro during rush hour to honour MMWIG victims.
Even in my culture we see forms of resistance, in the forms of rallies, protests and boycotts. Indians are known to not sit down and let colonialism trample them, and this was shown by many freedom fighters such as Mahatma Gandhi and Subhas Candra Bose. Gandhi was known for peaceful protests, just like Indigenous people fighting for the justice of MMIWG. And with resistance we’ve been able to seek independence from British colonizers. He was known for the great salt rally, where many salt mine workers left their jobs and protested with Gandhi for freedom.