Canada raises its voice for the genocide of native women

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In the report 'Reclaiming Power and Place', which investigates the murders and disappearances of indigenous women in Canada, the lags of colonialism are shown

Canada raises its voice for the genocide of native women

When Europeans arrived in America about 500 years ago, behind their civilization discourses, a number of stereotypes were created in front of the natives. This characterization eventually led to the excesses of violence against the Natives, since, for other reasons, they considered them inferior beings, because of their skin color, their beliefs or their customs.

Leer en español: Canadá alza la voz por el genocidio de las mujeres nativas

We all know the consequences: the massacre of entire cultures and other mechanisms of enslavement, the current hegemony of European languages and traditions throughout the Americas, among others. Thus, the autochthonous population in Latin America is a minority that is often vulnerable to the violation of their rights.

However, there have been attempts in recent years to vindicate and make visible that dark side of American history. An example of this is the recent Canadian report, 'Reclaiming Power and Place', published by the commission of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. Since 2016, this commission has been in charge of touring the country to conduct interviews and create meeting spaces through which the reality of violence against indigenous women in the last 60 years has been clarified.

This is part of an initiative of the Trudeau Government, whose campaign promise was to do justice to obscure issues in Canadian history. Thus, as Trudeau himself said in a speech before the General Assembly of the United Nations two years ago, "For the First Nations, the Métis Nation and the Inuit peoples in Canada, those early colonial relations were not about strength through diversity, or a celebration of the difference," rather " The experience was mostly one of humiliation, neglect, and abuse "

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The total cost of the investigation was 92 million Canadian dollars (around USD $ 67 million) and the president in charge was Marion Buller, a retired native judge. As El País recalls, the last report on the number of deaths, made by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, which covers the years between 1980 and 2012, declared that the total number of murdered was 1017 and 164 missings. However, as The Guardian claims, the report gives a figure of around 4000, although an exact number can never be established.

A genocide: the result of the report

The report "Reclaiming Power and Place" had the participation of more than 2380 people, including family members, survivors, experts and Guardians of knowledge, who collaborated in different ways. Some gave their testimony in interviews (468), others in writing (750) and some through the creation of artistic expressions (819). Also, 84 experts, Guardians of Knowledge, Elders, members of institutions that gave their opinion on the subject in 9 hearings, met.

The result of the investigation was that indigenous women and girls have been victims of genocide. Yes, a genocide, the same word with which we describe the massacre of Rwanda or the Holocaust. As stated in the report, "The violence denounced throughout the National Inquiry represents a genocidal, deliberate and racial social practice against the indigenous peoples, which include the First Nations, the Inuit and the Métis, whose objective was particularly women, girls and people 2ELGBTQQIA ".

In that sense, the violence exerted on these peoples works with a racial and ethnic logic, typical of a colonial heritage that does not respect the human rights of these peoples. "Indeed, certain truths emphasized during the testimonies heard and presented throughout this report focus on the actions and inactions of the State that find their roots in colonialism and related ideologies." The problem with this colonial logic is that it rests "on a presumption of superiority, ideologies that served to maintain power and control over lands and individuals oppressing the latter and, in many cases, eliminating them."

The purpose of the report, in addition to clarifying what had happened with these women, was to propose recommendations so that this type of systemic violence could be prevented. With that in mind, 230 recommendations were proposed including, explains Le Devoir, the creation of a 'national police squadron' to which families can go to open up the investigations again. The creation of an independent special investigation unit was also proposed, which would clarify "the omissions of investigation, the misconduct of the police and all forms of discriminatory practices."

Ultimately, as the report makes clear, "Contributing to the changes that are imposed to end violence is not only a matter of public interest policy but also a national and international legal commitment." If the same laws punish gender-based violence and demonstrations of hatred based on race or nationality, it is suddenly possible to prevent more victims such as indigenous women and girls.

Reactions to the publication

The voices in favor and against did not delay in being heard. Among those who praised the report is Trudeau, clearly, who said, in his speech during the launch, that "Many people, not autochthonous as native, many institutions find this report, the truths [that it contains] difficult, provocative, uncomfortable. It's an uncomfortable day for Canada, but it's an essential day," reflects Le Devoir. Despite the praise, the Canadian president did not utter the word 'genocide', which has caused criticism from the natives. For example, Lorelei Williams, an indigenous leader whose aunt is missing and her cousin was murdered, told The New York Times that "Yes, genocide is exactly what is happening, and Canada is still in denial about this."

On the side of those who questioned the report or, rather, the use of the word genocide, is the prime minister, Francois Legault, who believes that maybe went very far with his claims. "It is very serious and does not want to minimize what happened, but at the same time when we see the definition of this word [genocide], one can really ask if it applies," reflected Le Devoir.


LatinAmerican Post | Juan Gabriel Bocanegra

Translated from "El genocidio de mujeres autóctonas en Canadá"

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