“It isn’t high on our radar, to be honest.” This is what our Prime Minister of the better part of a decade, Stephen Harper, has to say about the need for a national inquiry on missing and murdered aboriginal women in the country he governs. The subtext is that our Prime Minister is both a racist and a misogynist.
You think I’m being too harsh? As I see it, the only possible justification for ignoring this issue is a form of racist and sexist hatred. After all, we have more than enough evidence that the issue of missing and murdered aboriginal women is a national crisis.
According to the RCMP’s report on missing and murdered aboriginal women, aboriginal women make up 4.3% of the total female population in Canada; however, they make up approximately 11.3% of missing women in this country. The authors of the report even admit that it is possible this number is low.
In light of the evidence from these government- sanctioned statistics, the only possible justification for Harper’s apathy is racism. When the numbers show us that 4.3% of your population are so vulnerable, not caring why they are or how this vulnerability could be lessened is unconscionable.
The Prime Minister has the power to launch a national inquiry into this issue, an inquiry which could potentially develop ways to save lives, yet has repeatedly said no. If you do knowingly do nothing when you have the power to save lives, doesn’t that make you partially responsible?
Having the power to save people and choosing not to do so is an unforgiveable action. Fortunately, there will be a federal election in 2015, whether Harper likes it or not. This time, everyone who agrees that aboriginal women’s lives matter must unite. We must make the issue of missing and murdered aboriginal women an election issue. We must use letter-writing campaigns, town halls, protests and social media to force our leaders to pay adequate attention to this crisis. We must also make it clear we expect our leaders not just to discuss this important issue, but that we expect them to find strategies that will improve the situation in the future.
We can all do our small part to take a stand against this gendered and racialized injustice. Please visit the No More Stolen Sisters website here for more information on the campaign to end violence against aboriginal women in Canada.