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

  • Plane caught in power lines after crash in U.S., crews work to rescue 2 occupants

    World News CTV News
    GAITHERSBURG, Md. - A small plane carrying two people got stuck in live power lines Sunday evening in Maryland, causing widespread power outages in the surrounding county as officials worked to extricate the aircraft and its occupants. Source
  • NFL free agent Odell Beckham Jr. removed from Miami flight by police

    World News CBC News
    NFL free agent Odell Beckham Jr. was removed by police from an aircraft before takeoff at Miami International Airport after officials said he failed to respond to requests to buckle his seatbelt and appeared to be unconscious, police and airline officials said Sunday. Source
  • Why anti-poverty researchers bristle at holiday appeals for food bank donations

    Canada News CTV News
    St. John's - Campaigns for food bank donations are a staple of the holiday season, but some Canadian food insecurity researchers say the appeals can be tough to swallow. Josh Smee, the executive director of the Newfoundland and Labrador-based non-profit Food First N.L. Source
  • B.C. announces plan to license more internationally trained doctors

    Canada News CBC News
    British Columbia announced several new measures to bring more doctors to the province, amid an ongoing shortage of physicians and strained emergency departments. Premier David Eby says the province is tripling the number of seats in the Practice Ready Assessment program, going from 32 spots to 96 by March 2024. Source
  • B.C. to license more internationally trained doctors to combat physician shortage

    Canada News CBC News
    British Columbia announced several new measures to bring more doctors to the province, amid an ongoing shortage of physicians and strained emergency departments. Premier David Eby says the province is tripling the number of seats in the Practice Ready Assessment program, going from 32 spots to 96 by March 2024. Source
  • Infant among 7 dead in Italy landslide

    World News CBC News
    Search teams have recovered seven dead, including a three-week-old infant and a pair of young siblings, buried in mud and debris that hurtled down a mountainside and through a densely populated port city on the resort island of Ischia, officials said Sunday. Source
  • Mexico's Lopez Obrador leads massive pro-government march

    World News CTV News
    MEXICO CITY - Hundreds of thousands of people marched in Mexico's capital Sunday in a show of support for President Manuel Lopez Obrador, who before assuming the presidency had led some of the country's biggest protests. Source
  • Hey hey, there's some monkeys! Thai festival honours fuzzy residents

    World News CBC News
    A meal fit for monkeys was served on Sunday at the annual Monkey Feast Festival in central Thailand. Amid the morning traffic, rows of monkey statues holding trays were lined up outside the compound of the Ancient Three Pagodas, while volunteers prepared food across the road for real monkeys — the symbol of Lopburi province, around 150 kilometres north of Bangkok. Source
  • Walmart shooting claims teen, young woman, father, mother

    World News CTV News
    A 16-year-old helping his family. A custodian and father of two. A mother with wedding plans. A happy-go-lucky guy. A longtime employee. That's how friends and family described some of the six people killed at a Walmart in Chesapeake, Virginia, when a manager opened fire with a handgun before an employee meeting Tuesday night. Source
  • Iraqi PM: Probe recovers part of $2.5B embezzled from taxes

    World News CTV News
    Auger-Aliassime, Shapovalov give Canada 1st Davis Cup title Canada won its first Davis Cup title on Sunday, beating Australia behind victories from Denis Shapovalov and Felix Auger-Aliassime. Source