Feminism missing from consultations on murdered women's inquiry: advocates

VANCOUVER -- A chairwoman of Vancouver's annual memorial march for missing and murdered aboriginal women says she's concerned a national inquiry will leave out a crucial issue -- feminism.

See Full Article

Fay Blaney, who co-chairs the February 14th Women's Memorial March Committee said the starting point of an inquiry must be the barriers indigenous women face in Canadian society.

Indigenous Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett is touring the country to meet with families, survivors and aboriginal representatives to hear what they want from an inquiry.

Blaney attended an all-day meeting in Vancouver last Wednesday and wants to meet with Bennett to discuss the inquiry's parameters.

"It needs to proceed from a feminist perspective. This is an issue of indigenous women's equality," she said. "I didn't hear that coming from them."

Her fears are part of a broader concern among front-line workers and advocacy groups that they are being shut out of the process. Blaney said the consultations appear to be focused on families, and while it's important for them to have a voice, they're only one perspective.

"Each one has a unique story to tell and it's instructive in terms of the data and information that comes from those stories, and it can lead to healing of the families involved," she said.

"But my position is that the women in the Downtown Eastside and other urban centres across this country are estranged from families."

Blaney's committee advocates year-round for women in the city's troubled Downtown Eastside and is one of several groups, including Vancouver Rape Relief and Women's Shelter, that have sent a letter to Bennett asking for a special meeting.

Rape Relief spokeswoman Hilla Kerner said approaching the inquiry using a feminist framework would mean examining the power relationships that have an impact on aboriginal women.

"Aboriginal women are vulnerable to male violence first and foremost because they are women, then because they are aboriginal, and then because they are poor," she said. "The intersection between colonialism and sexism plays a crucial role."

Dawn Lavell-Harvard, president of the Native Women's Association of Canada, is also calling on the government to hold separate meetings with front-line workers and grassroots groups.

She said she was told before the meetings started that they were for families only.

"We absolutely understand and respect the need for the families to go first," she said. "We just want to make sure that there is an opportunity for those meetings with those people who do the work on the ground."

Sabrina Williams, a spokeswoman for the ministry, said front-line organizations are invited to the meetings, which are scheduled to end in Ottawa on Feb. 15.

She said participants have stressed the need for an inquiry to have an indigenous perspective and address the root causes of violence and the effects of residential schools.

Some families have complained that the meetings are being rushed. Williams said every effort was being made to ensure relatives have as much notice as possible to participate.

"We are trying to find the balance between people who want us to get on with the inquiry but also the fact that we want to get it right," she said in a statement.

Candice Stevenson, whose mother went missing 33 years ago, said she only had a week's notice before the Vancouver meeting and she felt like she had to compete for a chance to talk.

"Everybody's rushed, rushed, rushed. People don't get to really speak their minds," she said.

But she said the government shouldn't wait for the inquiry to take action on missing and murdered women, including increasing police resources to investigate cases.

"We already know what's wrong. The violence against women, the systemic racism -- we already know those problems exist."



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Far-right groups hurting Quebec's image internationally, minister says

    Canada News CTV News
    Quebec's international reputation is taking a hit due to the increased visibility of homegrown far-right groups, the province's international relations minister said Wednesday. The province must continue to project an image "openness," despite the actions of far-right nationalists, Christine St-Pierre told reporters before a cabinet meeting. Source
  • Quebec minister: Far-right groups hurting province's image

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    Quebec’s international reputation is taking a hit due to the increased visibility of homegrown far-right groups, the province’s international relations minister said Wednesday. The province must continue to project an image “openness,” despite the actions of far-right nationalists, Christine St-Pierre told reporters before a cabinet meeting. Source
  • University librarian suffers stroke after Charlottesville protest injury

    World News Toronto Sun
    University of Virginia librarian Tyler Magill was among the counter-protesters surrounded by torch-bearing white supremacists Friday night at the school’s famous Thomas Jefferson statue. On Sunday, Magill was shouting down and disrupting a press conference by Jason Kessler, who organized Saturday’s so-called Unite the Right rally that devolved into violence, including the death of 32-year-old Heather Heyer. Source
  • 5 missing after U.S. Army helicopter goes down, items found

    World News Toronto Sun
    HONOLULU — A multi-agency team scoured the ocean off Hawaii on Wednesday for five people aboard an Army helicopter that went down during a nighttime training exercise. Officials at Wheeler Army Airfield near Honolulu reported losing communications around 10 p.m. Source
  • Newfoundland's Chase the Ace draw reaches $1.4 million with 10 cards remaining

    Canada News CTV News
    Newfoundland’s newest millionaire could be declared tonight at a Chase the Ace draw worth $1.4 million, a massive jackpot that’s been steadily growing since last October. Hundreds of hopefuls turned up in the Goulds neighbourhood of St. Source
  • Family settles with PETA after removal, death of girl's dog

    World News Toronto Sun
    NORFOLK, Va. — A family has settled a lawsuit against the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals for taking a girl’s unattended dog and euthanizing it, ending an attempt to effectively put PETA on trial for euthanizing hundreds of animals each year. Source
  • The alt-right? They’re alt-Reich

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    A so-called “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia last weekend ended in violence and tragedy. There were many groups in attendance — on the left and the right — and while both sides engaged in violence, the alt-right has blood on its hands. Source
  • U.S. doctor identified as victim of Vancouver tour bus crash

    Canada News CTV News
    A Massachusetts hospital group says one of its doctors was struck by a bus while on vacation with his family in Canada and killed. The chief executive physician at Baystate Health in Springfield said in a statement to The Republican newspaper that Dr. Source
  • Alabama sues Birmingham for boarding up Confederate statue

    World News Toronto Sun
    BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Alabama’s attorney general is suing the City of Birmingham and its mayor for obscuring a Confederate monument in a downtown park. Legislators passed a law earlier this year prohibiting the removal of historical structures including rebel memorials. Source
  • Arctic explorer's ship to return to Norway after 90 years in Nunavut

    Canada News CTV News
    CAMBRIDGE BAY, Nunavut -- Nearly 90 years after she sank into Nunavut's Arctic seabed, the ship that took famed explorer Roald Amundsen on his second polar expedition is finally ready to sail back home to Norway. Source