Your mother had just given birth to you. The intense labour pains she experienced seconds ago suddenly disappear – your grandmother places you into her arms for the very first time. Smiling from ear to ear your mother rocks you gently and strokes your smooth cheeks with her warm finger. Your father, knelt down on the side of the bed, kisses your forehead while gripping tightly onto your mother’s hand…he lets out a huge sigh and begins to cry. Grandmother comes over to him and starts singing a prayer…your mother begins to cry also. Although your parents are overjoyed to have brought you, a beautiful baby girl, into the world they are also filled with fear and grief because they know the odds that you are now up against: 4-7 times more likely to be murdered, 3 times more likely to be assaulted by your future spouse, 3.5 times more likely to experience violence, and the crimes that are committed against you will most likely not be reported to the police.
In Canada this is the sad reality that First Nations, Inuit, and Metis women and girls face compared to their non-Indigenous counterparts. From my understanding there has been an ongoing crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls in this country since the 1970s (and much earlier if you were to count the ones from the Residential School System Period). In recent times Amnesty International has called this level of violence “a national human rights crisis” and the United Nations Human Rights Committee has accused the Canadian government for “failing to act on the missing and murdered [Indigenous] women.” Although there has been some media coverage on this injustice, from the conversations I have had with some First Nations women and from the cases I have researched, I believe this is a silenced national crisis. I can guarantee that the average citizen is unaware that this exists in their country.
I want to conclude this post by honouring Loretta Saunders. Every time I think about her I get goosebumps. She was a 26 year old Inuk woman who was murdered by two of her roommates in February 2014. What makes her death so eerie is that she was a university student who wrote her thesis on the missing and murdered Indigenous women crisis. She was an Indigenous women who brought awareness to this crisis and she became another victim to this crisis. When I first heard about this story three years ago I was deeply deeply saddened. Alongside Loretta and the Indigenous community I will continue to do my best to bring awareness to my fellow Canadians in hopes of sparking active compassion.
If you have more information or insight into the missing and murdered women crisis please feel free to share in the comment section.