MMIWG inquiry is wasted ef­fort

The Prince George Citizen - - Opinion - NATHAN GIEDE

Ev­ery year, we First Peoples of Canada are granted a new spell to con­jure guilt in all non-In­di­ans. The curse du jour is “geno­cide,” thanks to the Na­tional Inquiry into Mur­dered and Miss­ing Indige­nous Women and Girls’ fi­nal re­port, which states: “[col­lected] in­for­ma­tion and tes­ti­monies... pro­vide se­ri­ous rea­sons to be­lieve that Canada’s past and cur­rent poli­cies, omis­sions, and ac­tions to­wards First Na­tions Peoples, Inuit and Métis amount to geno­cide.”

The MMIWG inquiry cost nearly $100 mil­lion to reach that con­clu­sion, a hefty price tag for sup­pos­edly se­ri­ous peo­ple to mis­in­ter­pret his­tory and facts so brazenly. One might won­der if there wasn’t a hid­den agenda for us­ing the “g-word” in or­der to gain more at­ten­tion and fund­ing.

Geno­cide is de­fined by the United Na­tions as “acts com­mit­ted with in­tent to de­stroy... a na­tional, eth­ni­cal, racial, or religious group.”

Canada has com­mit­ted sins against abo­rig­i­nals. But the worst tres­passes of the In­dian Act and res­i­den­tial school sys­tem were never a Holom­dor or Holo­caust. Marginal­iza­tion, segregatio­n, even apartheid-like be­hav­iour at times?

Yes. But state en­forced famine cleans­ing?

No, and the re­port’s au­thors are woe­fully off base to say oth­er­wise.

The inquiry’s ti­tle hinted at pur­poses be­yond po­lar­iza­tion. But what is re­ally hap­pen­ing to Indige­nous women and girls can’t be said be­cause of po­lit­i­cal cor­rect­ness: a ma­jor­ity of vic­tims are tar­geted by men (and women) from the same pop­u­la­tion.

Of the re­main­der, many are the vic­tims of preda­tors and se­rial killers, par­tic­u­larly on our High­way of Tears.

Fi­nally, the poverty on re­serves makes women and their chil­dren, es­pe­cially daugh­ters, vul­ner­a­ble to cy­cles of abuse.

All of this has been well known for decades but, iron­i­cally, eco­nomic so­lu­tions are those shouted down the loud­est.

Im­prove­ments on re­serves re­quire changes to the In­dian Act, which threat­ens the power en­joyed by fam­i­lies who dom­i­nate chief and coun­cil; thus more fund­ing is de­manded, in­stead of the liberty and en­fran­chise­ment, no­tably pri­vate prop­erty, that might end the so­cio-eco­nomic

re­al­i­ties that make Indige­nous women and girls sus­cep­ti­ble to ex­ploita­tion.

Some­day, a di­rect con­nec­tion be­tween the Amer­i­can money fund­ing abo­rig­i­nal groups’ in­junc­tions against eco­nomic op­por­tu­ni­ties in Canada and the choices lead­ing to the abuse or death of fe­male In­di­ans will be drawn, re­veal­ing a calumny and blood guilt that damns us all.

But out­side the cal­lous hearts of Abo­rig­i­nal activists and oli­garchs, the worst crimes com­mit­ted against women and girls ought to be an­swered with re­in­stat­ing the death penalty.

It’s cold com­fort to the mourn­ing fam­i­lies, but at least the pub­lic would know jus­tice was done.

The law should ap­ply retroac­tively and those quib­bling about “ex post facto” are wel­come to ex­plain to Cana­di­ans why we are feed­ing and shel­ter­ing mon­sters who were proven guilty in open court.

Of course, more re­sources must be pro­vided to po­lice to find the re­mains of vic­tims and, in turn, ob­tain DNA pro­files of the per­pe­tra­tors in or­der to nar­row down the long list of suspects.

The re­port does call for more com­mu­nity re­sources, ed­u­ca­tional aware­ness, etc. – all the usual boil­er­plate poli­cies that cov­ers the au­thors’ der­ri­eres and, even­tu­ally, politi­cians who need to demon­strate their “deep con­cern.”

But new women’s shel­ters from Alert to Wind­sor can­not cure the malaise of cycli­cal poverty and vi­o­lence that has long haunted our Indige­nous com­mu­ni­ties.

A change in cul­ture, fos­tered by in­di­vid­ual re­spon­si­bil­ity, is needed to amend the state of In­di­ans’ af­fairs.

That will re­quire tackling the un­touch­able po­lit­i­cal class, rewrit­ing or dis­card­ing the In­dian Act, and grant­ing au­ton­omy to all First Peoples so they can im­prove their sta­tion, as well as that of their fam­ily and com­mu­ni­ties, with both hands free.

Un­til then, the MMIWG inquiry will be just an­other sad chap­ter in a cen­tury-long his­tory of de­spair, for­got­ten sooner than most.

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