April 11, 2012

Missing Women inquiry ignores racism

This Missing Women inquiry has been going on for months. Normally I wouldn't call it a pop-culture issue, but now Natives are boycotting the inquiry. The reason: because the commission is ignoring Canada's "systemic racism and aboriginal stereotypes."

Racism expert withdrew report because Missing Women inquiry ‘would not fulfill its mandate’

By Brian HutchinsonAn expert in systemic racism and aboriginal stereotypes withdrew from the troubled Missing Women Commission of Inquiry after deciding the commission “would not fulfill its mandate,” the National Post has learned.

UBC anthropology professor Bruce Miller was contracted by the commission as an expert witness and was expected to testify at public hearings that began last fall. He says he submitted a report in advance of his testimony, but by September had informed the commission that he no longer wished to participate in the process.

Growing numbers of individuals and groups have criticized the inquiry for paying little attention to the roles that negative stereotyping and racism played in police failures to investigate Vancouver’s missing and murdered women, many of whom were aboriginal.
And:Over a dozen aboriginal and women’s groups have accused the commission of “failing to address” issues such as systemic racism, sexism and discrimination. They raised their concerns again Tuesday morning, at a press conference a few blocks from the inquiry hearing room. Fifteen organizations issued an open letter to Mr. Oppal, explaining their decisions to “boycott” evidentiary hearings—which are to conclude later this month—and public policy forums.

“The Commission has lost all credibility among Aboriginal, sex work, human rights and women’s organizations that work with and are comprised of the very women most affected by the issues this Inquiry is charged with investigating,” the letter reads. The inquiry “has served to repeat the same discrimination and exclusion that we had hoped it was going to uncover.”
Canada’s Missing Women Inquiry Faces Renewed Community Boycott

By David P. BallBritish Columbia’s inquiry into missing and murdered women—many of them aboriginal—faced a new setback Tuesday, as Canada’s largest human rights and Native groups renewed their boycott.

Citing the province’s refusal to fund legal representation or extend the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry’s June deadline, 15 organizations rejected pleas to rejoin the hearings.

“We get one shot at a public inquiry, and the way it’s being conducted right now, it’s turning out to be a sham,” women’s advocate Marlene George told a press conference on April 9 on behalf of the Women’s Memorial March Committee, which organizes an annual rally to honour Canada’s 600 missing or murdered aboriginal women, among them victims of convicted serial killer Robert Pickton.

An open letter—signed by Amnesty International, the Assembly of First Nations, the Native Women’s Association of Canada and 12 other groups—decried the inquiry into why police failed to catch Pickton sooner. In 2007, he was convicted of six murders, although 33 women’s DNA was found on his farm and he confessed to killing 16 more.
Comment:  For more on the subject, see Negative Stereotypes in Blackstone and Stolen Sisters CD Raises Awareness.

Below:  "Cee Jai Julian (L), Marlene George and Mna Woodward voice their anger over what they see as the failings of the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry at a press conference in Vancouver on Tuesday."

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