Sometimes my books are a little prescient. That’s not always good, particularly when it’s a future I don’t much like. And that’s the case with book three in the Inspector Ramirez series, which sees Inspector Ramirez investigating murdered jineteras in Cuba while Anishnabe detective Charlie Pike investigates the murder of Aboriginal prostitutes in Ontario.
Early in the book, I have the Canadian federal government and provinces arguing over whether to create a task force to look into the deaths. These are mostly Aboriginal women, after all, and no one really cares: they were hookers, they don’t vote. (Not my point of view, to be clear: the underlying political one.) And because the deaths cross multiple jurisdictions, this allows for the typical governmental finger-pointing that accompanies most Aboriginal issues, which means nothing gets done until the media picks up on the story. (I experienced this for decades as a negotiator and lawyer on the First Nation side; it’s endemic. I wrote a whole non-fiction book about it, Lament for a First Nation. Read it and weep.)
Charlie Pike is pretty disgusted by the way that the deaths of these women have been shunted aside. Some of the victims may have been prostitutes but they were also sisters, mothers, daughters, nieces, neighbours, and friends.
The manner in which 600 Aboriginal women have gone missing across this country in real life should shock and disgust all of us, including our political leaders. Or so you would think. But yesterday, calls for a national inquiry into the 600 documented cases of missing Aboriginal women across Canada were rejected by the federal government, despite the support of the provinces. And why?
Because the federal government doesn’t think an inquiry is necessary. They prefer “action.” Here’s what they had to say:
A spokeswoman for Justice Minister Peter MacKay says the government has already taken concrete action, including passing legislation that gives women living on First Nations reserves access to emergency protection orders.
Paloma Aguilar says it has also provided new tools to law enforcement and worked to improve the justice system, such as creating a National Centre for Missing Persons.
That would almost be laughable if it wasn’t so sad.
These women went missing on the highways on places like the Trail of Tears in British Columbia, where they were forced to hitchhike because they had no other means of transportation. They’ve gone missing in the inner cities, where men like Willie Picton picked them up, took them to his farm for sex, and then slaughtered and fed them to his pigs.
Exactly how is an”emergency protection order” supposed to stop any of that? A hitchhiker is picked up by a killer; a prostitute by a violent john. And then there are the girls and women who simply went out for a few hours and were never seen again. Exactly when are they supposed to apply for an order? How is a national centre going to stop a single Aboriginal woman from being murdered?
These “actions” show such a disconnect from the reality of what has happened to these women that all I can do is shake my head in anger and despair. 600 women have been murdered, and the government is patting itself on the back because it created a national centre to catalogue their deaths? It’s such a bureaucratic, legalistic, Euro-centric response to this horrific situation; it blows my mind.
As my pal, author Wayne Arthurson, has pointed out on Facebook, if there were 600 missing or murdered white dudes in Canada, we’d have had a Royal Commission decades ago. Shame on the federal government for marginalizing these women yet again.