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Feminism Around the World: Details Emerge About Canada’s Investigation Into Murdered/Missing Indigenous Women

Welcome to Feminism Around the World, a weekly feature here at TMS where we focus on women’s lives and feminist concerns… around the world. TMS is a US-based website, but we think it’s important to connect with women all over the globe to applaud successes, report injustices, and amplify the conversation around solutions to gender-based inequality. We’ve written about women in other countries before, but we’d now like to make it a more consistent priority. Because “Until we are all free, we are none of us free.” – Teresa

Canada: Details Emerge About Upcoming Investigation Into the Cases of Murdered/Missing Indigenous Women

We’ve been hearing about an upcoming investigation into the cases of over 1,000 missing or murdered Indigenous women in Canada since the end of last year. Today, the Canadian government has released details about how the investigation will be approached and what methods may be used.

According to NPR, the investigation will begin at the beginning of next month, and will continue through 2018, with an estimated budget of $53.9 million Canadian dollars (more than $40 million U.S.).

As reported by the CBC, Marion Buller, British Columbia’s first female First Nations judge, was revealed as chief commissioner of the five-member panel running the investigation. She says, “The spirits of the missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls will be close in our hearts and in our minds as we do our work. The families’ and the survivors’ losses, pain, strength and courage will inspire our work.”

Buller’s commission will have the authority to summon witnesses and compel documents. They will also examine the many factors involved with the numerous, systemic deaths and disappearances of Indigenous women, and they will look into the roles of institutions like police forces, local governments, and coroners’ offices in helping to combat the problem.

The commission will also review various federal and provincial laws, but will not find criminal liability. It’s here in the area of liability and law that some activists have concerns. Families will not be able to reopen cold cases at this time, which means that some Indigenous families that have already been treated unfairly by law enforcement won’t have an opportunity to secure justice. Dawn Lavell-Harvard, president of the Native Women’s Association of Canada, told the CBC that “Families made it very clear that they wanted answers, that many cases they felt were closed prematurely, that they don’t accept the conclusion. They wanted those reopened.”

Lavell-Harvard is also currently reviewing the the commission’s other plans. Namely, the $16.17 million over four years that is being allotted to create family liaison units in each province and territory, as well as give funding toward culturally appropriate victims’ services. Families will be able to take their questions there regarding individual cases, as well as petition police and other institutions for answers through those services. Lavell-Harvard has expressed the desire for more time to look into these services to ensure that they will provide families what they need.

While the investigation isn’t perfect, the fact remains that this is the first time that these missing and murdered Indigenous women have been this much of a national priority in Canada. Here’s hoping that, in addition to figuring out what caused these tragedies in the past, this investigation will be a help in developing solutions to prevent further tragedies in the future and care for a community that has been marginalized for way too long.


NEWS FROM ELSEWHERE THIS WEEK

INTERNATIONAL: “IT’S BEGUN” (Jezebel, 8/3/16) – There will be a lot of international women’s sports news happening soon! The Opening Ceremony for the Summer Olympics in Rio isn’t until Friday, but Women’s Soccer has already started, and Sweden and South Africa are duking it out RIGHT NOW. (P.S. I know this is an international column, but we’re always hype for the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team!)


If you have a story you think should be included in a future Feminism Around the World column, please email it to teresa@themarysue.com with “Feminism Around the World” in the subject line. Please note that this column is exclusively reserved for stories related to women in countries outside the U.S. Please send current stories that have been posted/printed within a week of the previous FATW column. Thank you, tipsters!

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