I have found a very interesting article regarding the societal attitudes surrounding missing aboriginal women in comparison to missing aboriginal men, there are many parallels to the articles I have written on the attention being given to the epidemic of “femicide” in Mexico when the vast majority of homicides are actually men. I will post the article titled Aboriginal men are murdered and missing far more than aboriginal women. A proper inquiry would explore both in full below (emphasis mine).
Canadian society is witnessing a large-scale and highly vocal campaign to draw attention to the fate of missing and murdered aboriginal women. Calls for a full-scale government inquiry reverberate in our politics, mass media, universities and public debate. And the Conservative government has been assailed for dismissing these calls on grounds that most of the murders of aboriginal women are committed by aboriginal men, usually their partners. We know who killed them, say the Conservatives, so we don’t need an inquiry. The problem for a longtime leftie like me is that this argument is largely correct, even though Stephen Harper says it is.
According to Statistics Canada data compiled by my research assistant Penny Handley, approximately 2,500 aboriginal people were murdered in Canada between 1982 and 2011, out of 15,000 murders in Canada overall. Of the 2,500 murdered aboriginal Canadians, fully 71 per cent — 1,750 — were male, and 745 were female (and one was “of unknown gender”). A further 105 aboriginal women were listed as “missing for at least 30 days” as of 2013, “in cases where the reason for their disappearance was deemed ‘unknown’ or ‘foul play suspected’,” according to a Toronto Star report).
Aboriginal men and women are both much more likely to be killed than are other Canadians. And aboriginal women seem overwhelmingly likely to be killed by aboriginal men, notably their partners or spouses. After initially refusing, the RCMP recently confirmed Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt’s claim that 70 per cent of indigenous women’s murderers are indigenous men.
While the RCMP initially declared it would not disclose “statistics on the ethnicity of the perpetrators of solved aboriginal women homicides,” it did acknowledge focusing on the “aboriginal origin of female victims of homicides.” (Curiously, the RCMP presented this as evidence of “the spirit of our bias-free policing policy.”) Its report found that 62 per cent of perpetrators were either spouses (29 per cent), family members (23 per cent) or intimate partners (10 per cent). Thirty per cent were acquaintances and eight per cent were strangers.
Crucially for a prevailing stereotype related to the issue, nearly 90 per cent of murders of aboriginal women were solved, a rate that barely differed from that of non-aboriginal women (88 versus 89 per cent). Once again, statistics for aboriginal men do not appear to have been compiled or circulated. But given that fully “83 per cent of unsolved homicides overall are male … we can assume the rate for solved murders among Aboriginal males is significantly lower,” writes a perceptive blogger on these issues, Mr. Mônijâw. “Of course, since men are murdered far more often, the larger aggregate numbers of homicide victims obscure the picture somewhat.”
Aside from a scattering of sources, however, the silence around these questions has been deafening. The RCMP shirks even compiling the relevant data, let alone circulating and publicizing them. It has no “plans to broaden the National Operational Overview on missing and murdered aboriginal women to include all aboriginal Peoples,” according to Mountie spokesman Greg Cox. As Mr. Mônijâw scornfully phrases it: “aboriginal men are murdered extremely often, relative to all other groups, and their homicides are more rarely solved. And nobody really cares. And you can even say you don’t care in public, as a representative of the police. Because you know nobody else really cares either.”
As for the missing, the absence of statistics represents a shocking abdication of at least one public institution’s responsibility — perhaps worthy of a Charter challenge. But it is reasonable speculation that missing aboriginal men outnumber aboriginal women, perhaps by a wide margin. One would expect the ratio of murdered-men-to-women to carry over, roughly, to the ranks of the missing. Homeless and street populations in North American inner cities are likewise heavily male, including their indigenous component, and it is surely members of these most marginalized and fragmented communities that are most likely to fall off the precipice. They are probably also the most likely to be murdered by strangers, who are harder to track down than family members or known associates. But we just don’t know. That is shameful, and it requires urgent attention and redress.
It is not just the RCMP and Canadian political institutions that have turned a blind eye. The campaign to highlight the victimization and extermination of aboriginal women has become a feminist cause célèbre (including an aboriginal-feminist one), in a way that has suffocated consideration of even more pervasive patterns of violence among and against all aboriginal Canadians, including men and boys. All such campaigns reproduce, in central respects, ancient patriarchal/paternalistic constructions of women as especially vulnerable, fragile and dependent on outside aid and state intervention. That is an infantilizing framing, one best conveyed by the widely used scare statistics about “women and children.”
There is a casual brutality in the way this discursive strategy effaces the aboriginal male victim. And that effacement echoes beyond the immediate victim. Mr. Mônijâw points out that the narrative places a special burden on those “who have actually experienced the murder of a family member in the most common of ways: their son or husband or brother was murdered by a stranger or acquaintance. I have worked with several aboriginal women who have suffered the enormous tragedy of seeing their son murdered — and they flat out do not have a voice. There is no outlet for them in this narrative. And in all the cases I know of … the perpetrator was also an aboriginal male.”
When I raised these points on my Facebook page, I received a number of intriguing responses. One friend contended that we should welcome the gender-exclusive inquiry into murdered and missing aboriginal women, since it might also serve as a lever for consideration of missing and murdered aboriginal men. This was in keeping with the comments of David Gollob, a Canadian Human Rights Commission spokesperson, who expressed his full support for a women-focused inquiry: “It is conceivable that a public inquiry into murdered and missing aboriginal women and girls could touch on broader issues of violence and victimization of aboriginal people.”
How, I countered, would these respondents view the reverse argument: that we should focus on missing and murdered aboriginal men exclusively (recognizing the large proportion of male murder victims, the pervasive inattention to the missing, and so on), all in the faint hope that it might prompt consideration of missing and murdered aboriginal women? Would not such an arbitrary and inhumane framework spark widespread outrage?
Another friend argued that we should support and applaud the focus on aboriginal women because Canadians, like all humans, are naturally primed and attuned to respond sympathetically to the suffering of these “vulnerable” groups. So the murdered aboriginal teenager, Tina Fontaine, is a literally ideal symbol. Like other exponents of a women-and-children-first framing, he expressed a hope that the traditionally targeted discourse might serve as a springboard for discussing the plight of aboriginal men and boys. In the same way, depicting an attractive young homeless girl, as opposed to a grizzled homeless older man, would be a legitimate way of publicizing and fundraising to assist both.
I still beg to differ, although I recognize that in a way I am – preemptively – trying to “graft” our social norm of concern for women and girls/children in general, and Aboriginal women and girls/children in this context, onto the population of Aboriginal men and boys that is so far conceptually obliterated. But if I were crafting that friend’s campaign for the homeless, I would make sure to represent varied sectors of the afflicted population, in an attempt to be inclusive. I certainly would not strictly exclude the numerically-predominant element of older and younger homeless males.
Let me propose an adjusted agenda for activism and advocacy around the issue of murdered, missing and otherwise-victimized aboriginal Canadians. It seeks to do justice to both the special and the disproportionate vulnerabilities of First Nations women, especially with regard to domestic and sexual violence, and to the so-far ignored population of murdered, missing and otherwise-victimized aboriginal men. What we urgently need is a well-resourced inquiry into the roots of violence in and against aboriginal communities. What could be titled the First Nations Anti-Violence Initiative would assess topics such as the following:
The structural violence of their continuing poverty, discrimination and dispossession from ancestral territories, as well as the reverberating trauma of the residential-school genocide.
Indigenous communities’ homicide and suicide epidemics.
The white/European racism, hubris and obliviousness that continues to fuel the aboriginal social crisis and to prompt violence by whites/Europeans against aboriginal women and men.
The specific and urgent issue of missing and murdered aboriginal women and girls, centred on the domestic violence crisis afflicting aboriginal communities (including child abuse, elder abuse and partner abuse against males, and with attention to issues of alcohol and drug addiction).
The specific issue of missing, murdered, homeless and addicted aboriginal men and boys, and their disproportionate representation among incarcerated juveniles and adults (with due consideration for native females, whose incarceration and institutionalization rates are also sky-high).
The disruption and severing of family and community bonds through social-services interventions to sequester indigenous children, recognizing the need to protect aboriginal children from family and community violence, preferably through solutions designed and overseen by First Nations populations themselves.
The psychological and counseling needs of all aboriginal survivors of violence, and their family members.
The psychological and social afflictions of aboriginal perpetrators of violence, and how to assuage them.
The wide variety of indigenous-generated proposals for change, restructuring, amelioration and restitution, including those directed at indigenous women, men, children and elders.
Such an initiative could be a watershed for aboriginal Canadians, and for all Canadians. It could parallel in its impact, and perhaps even surpass in its material and practical implications, the Truth Commission currently investigating Canada’s past atrocities and injustices against native peoples. The ubiquitous demands for a gender-selective inquiry into violence against aboriginal women, however, are a slap in the face to half the aboriginal population of our (and their) country. They also offend notions of fairness, inclusiveness and equality. The revised proposal would allow for the long-overdue inclusion of aboriginal men and boys in the political and public debate.
I admit there is something presumptuous in a white Canadian pronouncing on aboriginal suffering. I ask that this contribution be taken as a gesture of solidarity with all my aboriginal fellow citizens, sisters and brothers. I want to dedicate it, again presumptuously, to David James Taylor, a 42-year-old Ojibway man and Victoria resident. As I write, Taylor is again walking across the country to Ottawa, a five-month trek, stopping at indigenous communities en route to promote the cause of non-violence. “The walk to end violence is not just for the many murdered and missing women,” Taylor told the Victoria Times Colonist. “It is for indigenous men and youth as well. It’s important to bring back our core values and traditional teachings to deal with this. It affects everyone.”
Some SJW sensibilities of the author show up here, but nonetheless I figured I would post this information as it still highlights the gynocentric tendency for society to ignore male suffering.