The Injustice Against Aboriginal Women
Updated: Jun 2, 2020
There is a stigma that has been following the aboriginal people and adding a second layer of discrimination as a woman is all too impossible to comprehend as a Canadian. In the last few months there has been a focus in the media as to the disappearance of and assaults against the aboriginal women, and the lack of interest this subject matter holds in our justice system.
There has been an evolution of our understanding of the aboriginal people, and it needs to be recognized that to a certain extent our perception has gotten more positive. However, the life of the aboriginal people is seemed to still be seen in a “second class” view compared to a Canadian life, especially within the SPVM and Quebec Prosecution.
Lately, there has been numerous coverage as to the hardships the aboriginal women have faced. Two of which is their disappearances and assaults that do not get investigated. The coverage is due to one of the promises made by the Trudeau government in his election to create the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, which came into effect on December 8, 2015. Through this inquiry, many cases came to light as to how the aboriginal women were being treated in our justice system.
Any law student who has attended their first criminal law class would be able to determine that unless the police starts an investigation it never actually gets in the system to be prosecuted. The mere fact that the police does not take any actions, despite being reported, means that the family of the victims never truly get justice for what occurs to these women.
In the 1980s, Deborah Einish was brought to the police station in Schefferville and incarcerated for a night. During which time, a police officer drugged her. When she awoke, she was found without her pants. In the last year, she placed a complaint with SPVM against the officers who assaulted her. In last November, she was informed by the prosecutor that this would not be pursued. The injustice here is stagnant. It is hard enough that as a woman, the assaults made against her was by a police officer, but that it goes without even an investigation?
In another case, Ms. Jourdain has alleged that she was violated by a police officer in Schefferville. This lead her to depression and abuse of drugs and alcohol. She has attempted to commit suicide three times. Now she has dedicated herself to helping women who have been assaulted.
In 2011, an aboriginal teenager was kidnapped and when her adoptive mother made complaints with the police, they did not take her seriously. They have made assumptions that she might have ran away, as opposed to being kidnapped. The adoptive mother went through the organization Enfants-Retour to be able to find her daughter. She was found 5 weeks later, beaten, assaulted and burned by cigarette butts. If somebody goes missing, as citizens in Canada, we expect that police officers to take us seriously and to commit to an investigation. However, in this case they simply shrugged it off that she must have run away. Even if there is a high rate that every single teenager in an aboriginal community runs away, when a parent comes to the police with concern, it is hard to be faced with a shrug and an assumption that she must have simply ran away.
In another 2011 case, a teenager, Adèle Patricia Vachon-Bellefleur, was murdered when she went on an outing with her friends to the Pessamit community. Her body was found in the parking lot of the community hall. It was said that she fought with other girls in the community. A young adult was accused for her murder. However, the public minister withdrew the accusations. To this day, the family members of the victim has been waiting for closure.
In many of these situations, it is the way the victims and their family are treated that is repugnant. The justice system is there to service us all, yet somehow, through the eyes of the beholder, it escapes the aboriginal community. It is hard to believe that aboriginal women make up only 4% of women in Canada, yet 16% of women who have been assassinated are aboriginals. With such a high rate of homicide in this targeted group, the justice system needs to be more prevalent in how they handle these matters. If it were not for the National Inquiry these cases would not have come to light, and we would not be aware of them. It is a desolate situation that such an inquiry is necessary for the crimes against aboriginal women come to light and for the authorities to take these matters seriously.
Photo tirée de l'article "Statement on Terms of Reference for the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls in Canada", du site internet d'Amnesty International Canada