Monday, September 8, 2014

Put the Blame for Missing & Murdered Inidgenous Women Where It Belongs

Writing on, Sarah Hunt has drawn the most predictable (and racist) conclusion regarding murdered and missing indigenous women: blame whitey.

"Over the past few weeks, we have seen a rise in media coverage of violence against Indigenous girls and women following the murder of 15 year old Tina Fontaine. Discussion reached its peak last week during the annual meeting of premiers, which was seen as a venue to push for action to address the root causes of this ongoing atrocity. Yet as the meeting fades out of memory and Tina becomes the latest in the seemingly endless string of murdered young women, I fear that this flurry of dialogue and public outrage has yet again failed to bring about real change.

I fear that no amount of increased awareness and political organizing will actually end the violence if we continue along this current trajectory because we are still not shining a spotlight on the real causes of violence. No, I'm not talking about the drug use and street involvement that some journalists have drawn attention to in their portrayal of Tina Fontaine's final days. I'm also not talking about widespread poverty on reserve, or even the myriad factors that systematically marginalize Indigenous girls and women.

What this latest round of media coverage has failed to address is simply this: white male violence.

Indeed, the erasure of that violence as a topic of social and political concern is arguably a form of violence itself, as it serves to remove white men from the equation. White men get away with being unmarked by the violence they perpetrate, not at fault for carrying out a form of violation that is as old as colonialism itself. They also disassociate themselves from the institutions and systems that serve to normalize violence against Indigenous people -- systems that were designed and are largely upheld by (you guessed it) white male leaders.

For example, we have heard very little about the fact that the multiple murder trial of a 24 year old white man, Corey Legebokoff, is wrapping up this week in Prince George -- an area associated with the Highway of Tears. Indeed, no one has been connecting the dots between Legebokoff's multiple killings and the widespread violence against Indigenous girls and women in that area.

Apparently, Hunt resents the tragic facts of Tina Fontaine's last days being recounted because it impedes her agenda of just blaming the white devil. So instead she moves on to drawing some rather bold conclusions from the Corey Legebokoff trial: the white man is to blame after all.

The especially interesting thing about this is that Legebokoff is on trial for murdering four women. Of those four women, two were white and two were aboriginal. (Legebokoff is literally an equal-opportunity murderer, so far as race is concerned.) And so on the basis of half of Legebokoff's victims, Hunt casts the finger of blame at white people (especially white men) for the murders of indigenous women.

In social science, this is called a sampling error. It occurs when a subset of a statistical sample is used to draw conclusions about the sample as a whole.

So far, Hunt has found two murdered indigenous women killed by a white male. And based on this sample (of two) she draws her conclusions about the entire sample.

Well, the RCMP did not draw its conclusions based on a subset as small as two. They drew it based on the entirety of a sample of 1,181. Based on that sample of cases, this is what they concluded:

-The solve rate for murdered or missing indigenous women is practically identical tothe solve rate for non-indigenous women.
-Indigenous women were most likely to be murdered not by a stranger such as Corey Legebokoff, but by someone known to them. Either an acquaintance (30%), their spouse (29%) or other family member (24%). More than 90% of murdered indigenous women knew their killer in some way.
-The bulk of the killers of these women were men with criminal records, attained via previous violence against the women they eventually killed.

So the overwhelming majority of the murderers of indigenous women were indigenous men already known to the victim. Somehow Hunt has managed to look at this and conclude that "white male violence" is the underlying root cause.

The only way that Hunt could have even possibly reached these conclusions is to wilfully disregard the results of the exhaustive RCMP study and simply create her own out of whole cloth, with nothing more than a sampling error to support them. Why would motivate an academic to do such a thing?

It turns out that the answer is in her bio:

"Sarah Hunt (PhD) is a writer, educator and activist currently based in Lkwungen Territories (Victoria, BC) and is of Kwagiulth (Kwakwaka’wakw), Ukrainian and English ancestry. She has more than 15 years’ experience doing community-based work on issues of justice, education and cultural revitalization in rural and urban Indigenous communities across B.C. Most recently, Sarah’s research investigated the relationship between law and violence in ongoing neocolonial relations in BC, asking how violence gains visibility through Indigenous and Canadian socio-legal discourse and action."

It's only natural Hunt would be wilfully blind to the grim realities reflected in the RCMP report. Simply put: she, and the kinds of policies she has advocated, has a direct hand in this matter becoming as out-of-control as they have gotten. While indigenous women have been murdered by the violent thugs sent loose by a justice system instructed to go easy on them because they're aboriginal, she and her ideological cohorts have been telling us that if you can just hug a thug hard enough, everything will be OK.

With 1,181 murdered and missing indigenous women to show us how wrong Sarah Hunt and her cohorts are, I say "enough. It's over. You're done."

It only reaffirms my belief that there should be a Parliamentary Inquiry into Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women, but not the one that Sarah Hunt and her ilk imagine. They imagine an inquiry as a soapbox from which they can disregard the facts, invent their own, and push their failed agenda. The result will be more missing and murdered indigenous women.

Canada needs a very different inquiry: more of a trial, with Sarah Hunt and her cohorts in the docket, answering for the policies they pushed. One in which they will not be able to evade the blame for softening Canada's criminal justice system so that it no longer even tried to protect the women who eventually wound up murdered at the hands of those who had already victimized them. A trial that will discredit them so thoroughly that, PhD or not, the public will recognize their unworthiness and we will never hear from them again. They will be relegated to the irrelevance they have so richly earned.

Then the rest of us will go on with the business of protecting indigenous women by an act so simple, obvious and intuitive as keeping their assailants in jail so that they cannot harm their victims again.

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