Wednesday November 26, 2014

Missing women inquiry unnecessary


View from the Cheap Seats is kind of an extension of the newsroom. Whenever our three regular reporters, Calvin Daniels, Thom Barker and Randy Brenzen are in the building together, it is frequently a site of heated debate. Should there be a national inquiry into murdered and missing women.

Problem is clear

The growing calls for a national inquiry into the issues surrounding missing and murdered First Nations women across our country is an undertaking which would only slow this country taking measures to address the situation.

There are those who feel an inquiry is needed to determine the reasons behind the growing list of missing and dead women, but the reasons are already stunningly clear.

The situation is a result of two main factors, both which government and the non-aboriginal public would like to ignore.

The first is the socio-economic situation of far too many aboriginal people in this country.

Too many reserves are little better than ghettos where career opportunities are limited and that drags families into issues with drugs, alcohol, dropping out of school and in the end pushing too many women to a life on the streets.

Overlaying the socio-economic problems are a continued level of racism which permeates too much of our country.

The result is missing aboriginal women do not make the media headlines, they do not elicit the public outage which pushes progress, and at times the diligence of pursuing such cases may even be compromised.

The two factors are a recipe for indifference as the list of missing and murdered women grows.

The reasons are understood, the solutions can be recognized from there.

And that puts the time and effort of an inquiry better invested in a consolidated approach among law enforcement coast-to-coast to deal with the missing.

Paralleling that effort needs to be a political effort to work with aboriginal peoples to lift them out of the mire of unemployment and lack of education too many now experience.

If we can find a way to achieve true equality independent of race and religion, it will be far more effective than an inquiry seeking to identify already clear root problems.

- Calvin Daniels

Bad attitude

Stephen Harper is right that further study of the issue of missing and murdered women is unnecessary.

The problem with a national inquiry, aside from taking a long time and a lot of money, is that under the best circumstances all it will do is tell us what we already know from exhaustive research by the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) and the RCMP.

We already know that this horrific national tragedy is a sociological problem related to poverty, addiction, racism, sexism, domestic violence and institutionalized discrimination.

We know that the only way to end this nightmare is to wake up and address the underlying sociological issues.

Unfortunately, while the prime minister is right that it is time for action, not more study, he refuses to acknowledge the sociological phenomenon at the root of the problem.

It doesn’t matter, he says, who the victims are, it is a law and order issue.

As long as this attitude prevails in government, nothing is going to change. Catching and punishing the perpetrators of these crimes after the fact is not enough. We must, as a society, decide once and for all to end the circumstances that make women more vulnerable than men and aboriginal women more vulnerable than non-aboriginal women.

- Thom Barker

Time for action

Every once and awhile the Cheap Seats column takes a look at a serious situation or story.

This is one of those times as the topic is the national inquiry into the missing and/or murdered women.

Personally I think that an inquiry is pointless.

We already know as much as we will know about the situation and problem. I’m not going to go into depth on the reasons simply because I have a feeling my two colleagues, Thom Barker and Calvin Daniels, will both list off roughly the same thing I’d say (great minds think alike, but fools seldom differ and we are sometimes like the Three Stooges).

Instead of spending money on an inquiry, why don’t we just put that money towards, you know, trying to solve the problem?

Or at the very least put it towards cutting down the amount of women who fall victim in this country.

And for the record, it’s not just Aboriginal women. Yes, they are the reason it’s being brought to the forefront and yes, the amount of First Nations women being reported missing or murdered is shocking and outrageous, but let’s be realistic: it’s not just Aboriginal women.

Women or European, African and Asian descent are also being murdered or reported missing.

And that just should not happen. Stop the inquiry, start with action.

- Randy Brenzen



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