It’s about ending poverty and discrimination

The problem of disappeared women does not lie with the victims of crime and our law enforcement agencies, it lies with us

Wally Oppal’s long awaited report commissioned in the wake of the conviction of serial killer Robert Pickton holds a surprise.

Something had gone tragically wrong with law enforcement. How else could one individual have murdered dozens of women in one location over more than a decade without being caught?

That Oppal’s report would focus on law enforcement failures was to be expected.

What surprised me was the extent to which Oppal wrote about the social and economic reality that is the milieu from which the victims hailed and the extent to which that reality contributed to their disappearance from public consciousness.

The report’s short-title, Forsaken, and its first volume point to the harshness of the victims’ lives, our society’s attitudes and priorities, as being the central issues.

Forsaken — abandoned — applies as much to the many women who disappeared along Highway 16 as it does to the women who disappeared from Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.

Is there a Highway 16 Pickton? That is the wrong question. The question we must examine in the wake of Oppal’s report is this: why have we forsaken, and continue to forsake a segment of our society?

The label “Highway of Tears” used in reference to the disappearances of women along Highway 16 is a distraction.

We shed tears for the women lost and we share in the despair of their families. Our hearts go out to “them”.

We can afford to pity their lot as it is not ours. We are not the forsaken ones. What Oppal is telling us is that we are the ones who commit the forsaking.

No amount of tears we may shed for “them” will change our society’s attitude toward “them”.

If we want to make sure that it never happens again, as we are fond of proclaiming whenever horrible acts are committed in our midst, we have to put an end to our forsaking of human beings in our midst.

The problem does not lie with the victims of crime and our law enforcement agencies, it lies with us.

The victims of such crimes and their families are the forsaken ones; they did not forsake themselves.

We forsake people when we pursue a politic of adulating the global market as our Golden Calf, venerating corporate power and idolizing profit.

Treating people as servants of the global market leads to forsaking them on social and racial grounds. The moniker should be “Highway of Hypocrisy” to remind us of the forsaking done by our society.

The conditions that lead to people being forsaken are man-made. Poverty and discrimination are not natural in the way that being tall, short, blond or bald is natural.

This does not mean that adult individuals bear no responsibility for their own lives and that of their children.

What I am suggesting is that the responsibility for the forming and conditioning of an adult person rests on society more so than it does on the individual.

Poverty, neglect, and abuse are conditions with a perpetual and distinct attribute.

Those who manage to escape from such dehumanizing conditions, to break away from the vicious circles into which they were born are the exception, not the rule.

Oppal’s critique of law enforcement agencies is valid, and I expect that they will review their procedures and protocols.

Our responsibility, our duty and our obligation as citizens in the wake of Oppal’s report is not to shed a tear for the victims and their families and point a finger at the police.

Our challenge is to reflect on our politics and to reset our social, educational, and economic priorities. Are we up to it?

Andre Carrel is a retired public sector administrator living in Terrace, BC.

 

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

Just Posted

Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Sept. 20 to 26

Rabbit Day, Hobbit Day and One-Hit Wonder Day are all coming up this week

What is the future of transportation in Terrace?

Active transportation, transit, road networks to play a big part in the coming years

Single-engine aircraft crashes near Telkwa

Two occupants of the plane sustained minor injuries and were transported to hospital

Terrace firefighters heading south to help battle wildfires in Oregon

Over 200 B.C. firefighting personnel will assist in the U.S.

Cullen announces bid for provincial NDP nomination for Stikine riding

Current MLA Donaldson not seeking re-election

B.C. or Ontario? Residential school survivors fight move of court battle

It’s now up to Ontario’s Court of Appeal to sort out the venue question

B.C. transportation minister will not seek re-election

Claire Trevena has held the position since 2017

Young B.C. cancer survivor rides 105-km with Terry Fox’s brother

Jacob Bredenhof and Darrell Fox’s cycling trek raises almost $90,000 for cancer research

B.C. migrant, undocumented workers rally for permanent residency program

Rally is part of the Amnesty for Undocumented Workers Campaign led by the Migrant Workers Centre

Preparations underway for pandemic election in Saskatchewan and maybe B.C.

Administrators in B.C. and around the country are also looking to expand voting by mail during the pandemic

Nearly 20 per cent of COVID-19 infections among health-care workers by late July

WHO acknowledged the possibility that COVID-19 might be spread in the air under certain conditions

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies at 87

The court’s second female justice, died Friday at her home in Washington

Emaciated grizzly found dead on central B.C. coast as low salmon count sparks concern

Grizzly was found on Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw territory in Smith Inlet, 60K north of Port Hardy

VIDEO: B.C. to launch mouth-rinse COVID-19 test for kids

Test involves swishing and gargling saline in mouth and no deep-nasal swab

Most Read