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

This Crescent Beach home, located at 12505 22 Ave., was subject of a police search warrant June 18. (Google image)
Civil Forfeiture Office alleges Crescent Beach home used to launder money

Court documents request the home, and $85,000 to be turned over to the government

Surrey firefighters battle a house fire near the 70A Avenue and 126A Street intersection early Sunday morning. According to a witness, it appears that the occupants were able to get out without injury. (Shane MacKichan photos)
PHOTOS: Fire causes extensive damage to Surrey home

Occupants able to escape without injury: witness

NDP headquarters on election night, Oct. 24, 2020. (Katya Slepian/Black Press Media)
ELECTION 2020: Live blog from B.C. party headquarters

BC NDP projected to win majority government – but celebrations will look different this election

B.C. Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau outlines her party's climate action platform at Nanaimo's Vancouver Island Conference Centre earlier this month. (News Bulletin file photo)
Green leader Furstenau declared victor in her home riding on Vancouver Island

Cowichan Valley voters elect freshly minted party leader for her second term

John Horgan has been re-elected the MLA for Langford-Juan de Fuca. (File-Black Press)
Horgan trounces challengers to be re-elected in his Vancouver Island riding

MLA has represented constituency of Langford-Juan de Fuca and its predecessors since 2005

An animated Gordie Hogg introduces his 'Community Connections' videos. (YouTube screenshot)
Community Connections: Gordie Hogg speaks with Glenn Rose

Former mayor, MP began posting conversations on YouTube in June

FILE – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau greets Premier John Horgan during a press conference at the BC Transit corporate office following an announcement about new investments to improve transit for citizens in the province while in Victoria on Thursday, July 18, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Trudeau congratulates Horgan on NDP’s election victory in British Columbia

Final count won’t be available for three weeks due to the record number of 525,000 ballots cast by mail

Comedic actor Seth Rogen, right, and business partner Evan Goldberg pose in this undated handout photo. When actor Seth Rogen was growing up and smoking cannabis in Vancouver, he recalls there was a constant cloud of shame around the substance that still lingers. Rogen is determined to change that. (Maarten de Boer ohoto)
Seth Rogen talks about fighting cannabis stigma, why pot should be as accepted as beer

‘I smoke weed all day and every day and have for 20 years’

Provincial Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau speaks at Provincial Green Party headquarters at the Delta Victoria Ocean Pointe in Victoria. (Arnold Lim / Black Press)
VIDEO: Furstenau leads BC Greens to win first riding outside of Vancouver Island

Sonia Furstenau became leader of BC Greens one week before snap election was called

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

NDP Leader John Horgan elbow bumps NDP candidate Coquitlam-Burke Mountain candidate Fin Donnelly following a seniors round table in Coquitlam, B.C., Tuesday, October 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horgan, NDP head for majority in B.C. election results

Record number of mail-in ballots may shift results

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
Mounties looking for teen boy ‘unlawfully at large’ from Riverview psychiatric hospital

Nolan Godron left the hospital, located at 2721 Lougheed Highway in Coquitlam, without consent on Saturday

The Canadian border is pictured at the Peace Arch Canada/USA border crossing in Surrey, B.C. Friday, March 20, 2020. More than 4.6 million people have arrived in Canada since the border closed last March and fewer than one-quarter of them were ordered to quarantine while the rest were deemed “essential” and exempted from quarantining. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Majority of international travellers since March deemed ‘essential’, avoid quarantine

As of Oct. 20, 3.5 million travellers had been deemed essential, and another 1.1 million were considered non-essential

Most Read