Research Paper on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women in Canada


It was the summer of 2017 when Savanna LaFointe-Greywind, a pregnant Indigenous woman, was murdered by her next-door neighbour. The malicious act involved cutting Savanna open conducive to their intent of raising the child. This incident proves the pervasive issue of murdered and missing Indigenous women. The incessant matter has exacerbated due to the Government's lack of action and insufficient education on the topic. The current crisis of MMIW is a direct result of a history of government inaction, colonization, and public ignorance.

Over the years, the Government has demonstrated a proclivity to give lower priority to cases involving Indigenous women. Some of this inactivity is inadvertent, and Government officials have failed to take action. On December 8, 2015, "the Federal Government of Canada announced an independent National Inquiry.... with a $53 million budget" (Justine, Awaiting Justice, gale.com). The inquiry had a three-year deadline to ameliorate the issue but struggled to make any progress. "Jenny Lay, whose mom was murdered, got an email saying that the inquiry lost her file" (Justine, Awaiting Justice, gale.com). Throughout the inquiry, the Government faced many barriers involving meeting delays along with postponements. Furthermore, many significant inquiry members resigned, which sequentially resulted in a lack of communication and an unsuccessful inquiry. The inadvertent inactivity by the Government is a result of limited data, resources and numerous authorities. Families of missing and murdered women have claimed that "Governments... responded with significantly less financial and human resources" (Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, gale.com) in comparison to non-Indigenous cases. The scope of the problem is "Overlapping authority which has caused confusion and resulted in insufficient enforcement of laws" (Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, gale.com). Additionally, law enforcement agencies aren't always provided with specific instructions or required data, resulting in mishandled cases. Margaret Moss, an associate professor of nursing and director of the First Nations House of Learning, articulated, "Very little has been done to address these shocking and sad realities at the federal level" (Margaret, An epidemic on both sides of the Medicine Line, gale.com). Although the Government's inactivity has had a significant effect on Indigenous women, this discrimination began in the late 1800s.

The cases of missing and murdered Indigenous women date back to the establishment of the Indian Act in addition to women's oppression. Preliminary to focusing on sexism, the significant pertinent issue is colonization. "Aboriginal peoples in Canada are oppressed through ideological domination and the imposition of colonial culture, which denies them access and opportunity in society" (Kaitlyn, The Role for Grassroots organization and Social Media in Education, gale.com). This particular oppression is a result of stolen Indigenous lands and other culture's dominance. The significance of colonization is that Indigenous women tend to refer to their culture over their gender. Part of the Indian Act from 1876 directly targeted the rights of Indigenous women. "Women could not own property, and once a woman left the reserve to

marry she could not return because non-Indians could not reside on the reserve even if a divorce had occurred." (Kaitlyn, The Role for Grassroots organization and Social Media in Education, gale.com) In turn, a vulnerable and powerless perception of Indigenous women was formulated by society, making them an easier target. This acknowledgement has led to increased violence against Indigenous Women and these particular perpetrators' tendency to get away with their malicious actions. "In 2016, the National Institute of Justice reported that 84.3 percent of Indigenous women in the United States experienced violence during their lifetime". (gale.com, Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women) Are we really a nation that accepts the fact that these women are being violated and individuals are getting away with it? If we want to alter our future, we must implement the teaching and understanding of Indigenous women's hardships.

A significant source of missing and murdered Indigenous women involves the lack of education on this particular topic. The media has held a negative representation of Indigenous Women and influenced our perceptions and knowledge on the issue. "Media reports about missing and murdered Aboriginal women and girls frequently sensationalize the incidents, while saying little or nothing about the woman or girl and her unique experiences" (Kaitlyn, The Role for Grassroots organization and Social Media in Education, gale.com). Stories involving violence against Indigenous women tend to receive less attention and respect in comparison to cases involving non-Indigenous women. This dilemma is significant considering the RCMP reported that the Aboriginal female victims of homicide between 1980 and 2012 represented around 16% of all female homicides. Stories about missing white women happen to be more prominent in the news, habitually include more detail on the issue, and are usually evident on an article's front cover. Kevin Kumashiro, a writer and activist, suggests that "an education that changes students and society requires an understanding that "oppression is produced by discourse, and in particular, is produced when certain discourses are cited over and over." (Kaitlyn, The Role for Grassroots organization and Social Media in Education, gale.com). When European colonizers arrived, they established that Indigenous women were vulnerable, sexual objects, contributing to these individuals' being viewed as easy targets. This discourse has become a pertinent issue, so there has to be a change in the education system. Today's education should incorporate the accurate pre-existing history involving genocides of Indigenous women in addition to modern-day problems where these women stand alone together. Why should these women suffer from a flaw in the education system? 

The history of government inaction, colonization and public ignorance has contributed to the prevailing crisis of MMIW. Many families have become disappointed in the lack of Government resources and initiative, which has led to lost cases and mistrust. This issue has also revolved around colonization in addition to the vulnerability experienced by Indigenous women. To move forward, the media and the education system must provide society with accurate historical facts and a better understanding of the hardships experienced by Indigenous women. If we don't act immediately, the crises involving missing and murdered Indigenous women may become acceptable to modern society.

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