THUNDER BAY – The Ontario Native Women’s Association (ONWA) is shocked and appalled by an article published today by the Globe and Mail entitled “Posturing is the only reason for a missing women inquiry.”
“The epidemic of missing and murdered Aboriginal women is a systemic problem that affects all Canadians and needs to be treated as such,” stated Dr. Dawn Harvard, ONWA President. “Mr. Simpson’s article fails to mention that Aboriginal women are losing their lives at alarmingly higher rates than non-Aboriginal women. This is the atrocity! To downgrade this tragedy to an issue that lies solely within our communities’ shows a complete and utter disregard for the seriousness of it. This is demeaning to the mothers, sisters and daughters who have senselessly lost their lives to violence.”
In a media release issued on August 27th, ONWA says, “The article not only disregards the true magnitude of the problem Canada has with missing and murdered Aboriginal women, but makes the blatantly racist and stereotypical assumption that all Aboriginal women are killed by Aboriginal men: ‘Although the report does not say so directly, the data strongly suggest that aboriginal women were (and are) largely being victimized by aboriginal men, which means that solutions to the problem lie not within a public inquiry, but within aboriginal communities about why this is happening – and, of course, in a wider reflection on the disadvantaged situation of aboriginals in Canada,’ states the article written by Jeffrey Simpson”.
ONWA states, “It is important to clarify for Jeffrey Simpson, and the Canadian public at large, that the RCMP report makes no reference whatsoever to the race of the perpetrators who have been convicted of killing Aboriginal women. While it does state that most homicides are most often perpetrated by spouses or someone known to the victim, it is nothing more than a stereotypical assumption that all Aboriginal women are married to Aboriginal men and that all their known acquaintances are Aboriginal. Furthermore, to imply that the over 1200 cases of missing and murdered Aboriginal women are simply the result of ‘Aboriginal-on-Aboriginal crime’ is nothing more than shameful victim blaming and a desperate attempt to negate Canada as a whole of any responsibility to the issue”.
“Furthermore, making a false assumption that it is primarily Aboriginal men who are killing Aboriginal women only perpetuates racist attitudes and divisiveness in this country, and it certainly does not negate the need for Canada to get involved by means of a public inquiry. The focus needs to be on WHY this it happening at such alarming rates. We need to look at this from a broader perspective and examine the underlying socio-economic issues that are contributing to the violence. This is not the time to be pointing fingers.” continued Harvard.
The Globe and Mail is not the only media outlet that is guilty of publishing such damaging and racially motivated content. ONWA is calling on all media to honour their responsibility to the public to ensure that what is being published does not perpetuate racist attitudes and beliefs that leave Aboriginal women even more vulnerable to violence than they already are..