Not like the glassy, frenzied eyes of a dope-addled teen; nor the leery gaze of a sex worker on the stroll of a rotting urban core; not the bloodshot weariness of an alcohol-ravaged single mother.
Now, forget the bloody puppies. It’s a lie. I made it up. Sue me.
What is true is that almost 1,200 aboriginal women have been murdered or disappeared in this country in the last 30 years, and very few people seem to talk about it. Over the last few of those years, there have been calls – increasingly louder – for a national public inquiry into the tragedy.
I don’t know if an inquiry is the right answer. It might just serve as mere distraction from issues like abuse, drugs, desperation, poverty, racism, isolation, cultural deracination and the like. Maybe we’ll eventually talk about violence against vulnerable populations, how easy it is to beat and rape and ultimately kill a transient addict, or a native with no Facebook account, and few friends in the big city to notice their selfies have waned.
Knowing government? Figure three months to get it running; six to gather and hear witnesses; two to navel gaze; and then another six months for a report, followed by three months for government to respond. So a safe bet is two years before we get talking points on how to proceed. It will probably have something to do with cultural sensitivity, community policing, anti-violence initiatives; better outreach to traditional leadership; increased vigilance of transient natives, and a lot of talk about ‘healing’.
When an RCMP report last year pegged the number at 1,181 reported cases of murdered and missing aboriginal women over 30 years, it was higher than even the Mounties had estimated. I mean, 1,200 people all fitting one single glorious demographic—native and female—are ghosts. Where does one look for the answers?
The response is to actually LOOK. I knew about this disturbing reality and my mind relegated it to icy dark corners of western Canada. But on second regard, I remember faces I’ve seen in bars, parks and bus stations of this city; soundly cleaved from their roots, where things make sense, by years of booze, sex and forced or self-imposed isolation. It’s easy. It’s almost damn expected that young women can slip away almost unnoticed, that their ephemeral lives vanish into the Canadian ether.
Who would miss them? The hooker on the next block? The bartender who tosses them monthly? The cops who are fed up with victims who won’t press charges? The shelter that can’t keep track of them? Last spring, a federal government committee submitted a report to the government that responded with a plan that includes cash for shelters, a DNA-based missing person’s index, anti-violence programs in high risk communities, education and added resources for regions targeted by the RCMP.
If we can call inquiries into doping in sports; Brian Mulroney’s business dealings; the few million stolen by Montreal bureaucrats, engineers and contractors; hell if Côte St. Luc can have a bloody cat committee, then let’s get this bloody party started…
Don’t these women and their families merit a bit of the regard we had a few minutes ago for dogs? If it helps, just imagine those big sad eyes. Hell, do whatever works to make this happen.
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