Vic­tim’s fam­ily calls out ‘white-pass­ing priv­i­lege’

Tues­day, Oc­to­ber 31, 2017

Metro Canada (Calgary) - - CANADA - THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

Fam­ily mem­bers of a mur­dered Inuk woman said Mon­day that merely ap­pear­ing to be white of­ten height­ens po­lice and pub­lic in­ter­est in a crime or miss­ing per­son case in­volv­ing an abo­rig­i­nal per­son.

Loretta Saun­ders’ sis­ter Delilah Saun­ders and their mother Me­riam made the com­ments as they de­scribed the 26-year-old woman’s life and vi­o­lent death — and the les­sons her ac­tivism has sparked in their own lives.

They were speak­ing dur­ing the first of three days of hear­ings be­ing held by the Na­tional In­quiry into Miss­ing and Mur­dered Indige­nous Women and Girls in Membertou First Na­tion in Cape Bre­ton, N.S. Loretta Saun­ders

Saun­ders’ body was found at the side of a New Brunswick high­way in a bag in Fe­bru­ary 2014, lead­ing to mur­der con­vic­tions against Hal­i­fax res­i­dents Blake Leggette and Vic­to­ria Hen­neberry, who were tenants of Saun­ders.

Me­riam Saun­ders said that in the early days of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion of her daugh­ter’s death, po­lice ad­ver­tised the case as a miss­ing white woman.

She said she found it more dif­fi­cult to get in­for­ma­tion from of­fi­cers af­ter they started to cor­rectly re­fer to her as an Inuk woman.

Delilah said prior to her mur­der, her older sis­ter had talked to her about the phe­nom­e­non of “white-pass­ing priv­i­lege,’’ where peo­ple who ap­pear white, but are not, are treated favourably.

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