Toronto MP Carolyn Bennett is sworn in as Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs

Toronto MP Carolyn Bennett is sworn in as Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs

BC VIEWS: Missing women inquiry pre-determined

Indigenous Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett's position boils down to blaming racist, indifferent cops

The federal government’s National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls is preparing to get underway in September.

With five commissioners led by B.C. judge Marion Buller and a budget that has swelled by a third to $54 million before it even starts, this inquiry has one big advantage over all the previous studies of Canada’s intractable problems of poverty and violence in aboriginal communities.

In this case, the politicians all agree what the outcome is going to be. They’ve been saying so for months, since the Justin Trudeau government got elected on this and other passionate, if questionable, promises.

Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould, a member of the We Wai Kai Nation on the B.C. coast, a former Crown prosecutor and chair of the B.C. Treaty Commission, announced the terms of reference last week. She stressed that the inquiry will not attempt to retry cold cases, but to examine the “root causes” of the high numbers of missing and murdered women.

Next up was Indigenous Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett, who has no doubt at all what those “root causes” are: racism, sexism and the lingering effects of colonialism. Bennett has been meeting steadily with grieving families since being appointed, and now accepts that racist, indifferent cops are the main “root cause.”

Bennett explained this conclusion from New York in April, while attending a “Women of the World” summit. It’s an “uneven application of justice,” she told The Globe and Mail, a phrase we’ll hear again and again.

“You end up with people who have been told it’s an overdose, or a suicide or an accident,” Bennett said.

RCMP have reported close to 1,200 unsolved cases of murdered or missing indigenous women since 1980, a figure that Bennett scoffs at. What’s her evidence? She’s talked to families, and knows it’s “way more” than that.

One of the previous inquiries was by a United Nations official, James Anaya, in 2014. He noted the alarming statistics of education outcome and violent offences against women, and referred to 660 cases documented by the Native Women’s Association of Canada. He also described being besieged by demands for a national inquiry, as he went through the stacks of studies that have already been done.

“Since 1996,” Anaya wrote in his UN report, “there have been at least 29 official inquiries and reports dealing with aspects of this issue, which have resulted in over 500 recommendations for action.”

As the latest inquiry was being launched, Perry Bellegarde, the current Assembly of First Nations national chief, recited Bennett’s speaking points about the conclusions it will reach.

Bellegarde told CTV the problem is vastly under-reported because “…oh, it’s an accidental death. Oh, it’s a suicide.” Then he called for more money for housing and other programs via the failed Indian Act system.

There are several glaring factors that apparently will not be discussed, because they fall outside the politically correct boundaries of this pre-determined narrative.

One is the even more alarming number of aboriginal men and boys who are victims of violent crime.

Another is the rate of domestic abuse reported by indigenous women, which Statistics Canada estimated this year at about 10 per cent of their population. That’s three times the national average, but it was not mentioned amid the demands for justice at the inquiry.

Another key issue that is forbidden from discussion is the social and economic viability of remote communities. Some of them haven’t been able to maintain clean water and safe housing, much less education and employment, despite billions in spending every year.

Tom Fletcher is B.C. legislature reporter and columnist for Black Press. Email: tfletcher@blackpress.ca Twitter: @tomfletcherbc

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Nurse Vicki Niemi administers a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to Joyce, 88, on Mar. 23, 2020 at the Terrace Sportsplex. All adults in Terrace are now eligible to register for a COVID-19 vaccination. (Ben Bogstie/Terrace Standard)
All adults in Terrace can now register for a COVID-19 vaccine appointment

Community members can register by calling 833-838-2323 or visiting getvaccinated.gov.bc.ca

April 2020 to March 2021 was the second wettest year on record since at least 1969, according to Environment Canada. (Ben Bogstie/Terrace Standard)
VIDEO: Terrace records wettest spell in over a half-century

Terrace saw close to 1,500 millimetres of precipitation between April 2020 and March 2021

Terrace fire department responded to a call from Skeena Saw Mills at the early hours of Friday morning. (Binny Paul/ Terrace Standard)
UPDATE: Fire crews respond to early morning incident at Skeena Sawmills

No injuries were reported as mill workers immediately alerted the fire department after seeing smoke

Terrace Tim Hortons on Keith Ave. experienced a fire during the morning of April 4, 2021. (Ben Bogstie/Terrace Standard)
Nature of Tim Hortons fire made it difficult to detect: Deputy fire chief

Fire likely burned undetected inside a wall, resulting in extensive damage

Restaurant patrons enjoy the weather on a patio in Vancouver, B.C., Monday, April 5, 2021. The province has suspended indoor dining at restaurants and pubs until at least April 19 in B.C. due to a spike in COVID-19 numbers. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. sets new COVID-19 daily record with 1,293 cases Thursday

New order allows workplace closures when infections found

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and Premier John Horgan describe vaccine rollout at the legislature, March 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
1,262 more COVID-19 infections in B.C. Friday, 9,574 active cases

Province’s mass vaccination reaches one million people

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod, seen here on April 9, 2021 with four-year-old sister Elena and mom Vanessa, was born with limb differences. The family, including husband/dad Sean McLeod, is looking for a family puppy that also has a limb difference. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. family looking for puppy with limb difference, just like 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy McLeod born as bilateral amputee, now her family wants to find ‘companion’ puppy for her

A vehicle that was driven through the wall of a parkade at Uptown Shopping Centre and into the nearby Walmart on April 9 was removed through another hole in the wall later that night. (Photo via Saanich Police Department and Ayush Kakkar)
Vehicle launched into B.C. Walmart removed following rescue of trapped workers

Crews cut new hole in parkade wall to remove vehicle safely

Four members with Divers for Cleaner Lakes and Oceans were out at Cultus Lake on March 28 and 29 hauling trash out of the waters. (Henry Wang)
PHOTOS: Out-of-town divers remove 100s of pounds of trash from Cultus Lake

Members of Divers for Cleaner Lakes and Oceans hauled out 470 pounds of trash over two days

As of Saturday, April 10, people born in 1961 are the latest to be eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine. (Black Press files)
B.C. residents age 60+ can now register to get their COVID-19 vaccine

Vaccine registration is now open to people born in 1961 or earlier

A new saline gargle test, made in B.C., will soon be replacing COVID-19 nasal swab tests for kids. (PHSA screenshot)
Take-home COVID-19 tests available for some B.C. students who fall ill at school

BC Children’s Hospital plans to provide 1,200 kits to Vancouver district schools this April

Ruming Jiang and his dog Chiu Chiu are doing fine following a brush with hypothermia that saw several people work together to get them out of the Fraser River near Langley’s Derby Reach Park on March 25, 2021 (Special to the Advance Times)
Man finds men who rescued him from drowning in B.C.’s Fraser River

A grateful Ruming Jiang says he will thank them again, this time in person when the pandemic ends

Tyson Ginter, 7, is proud of his latest Hot Wheels he recently received by Quesnel RCMP Const. Matt Joyce. (Photo submitted)
B.C. Mountie handing out toy cars to light up children’s faces

‘A lot of times it will be the only interaction they have with the police,’ says Const. Matt Joyce

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam speaks during a technical briefing on the COVID pandemic in Canada, Friday, January 15, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s ICUs see near-record of COVID-19 patients last week as variant cases double

Last week, Canadian hospitals treated an average of 2,500 patients with COVID-19, daily, up 7% from the previous week

Most Read