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Silent no more – Aboriginal women in Canada

Silent no more – Aboriginal women in Canada


I didn’t know much about this topic. My Osocio colleague, Tom, brought me into the cold water of information and I am very grateful and honored that I may post about Aboriginal women in Canada.

Indigenous women are going missing and being murdered at a much higher rate than other women in Canada. Ten years ago, Amnesty International published its major report, Stolen Sisters: Discrimination and Violence against Indigenous Women in Canada and till today only what they got is poorly coordinated government response.

I’ve read also the latest media news about Aboriginal women …It’s a political hot button, as my Osocio colleague said, especially since Canada is in a federal election year. The latest information is that Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his ministers still cling to the idea that these deaths and disappearances are crimes without social elements. They didn’t change their Position even after the Indigenous leaders and families, together with representatives from all provinces, territories and the federal government, met for the National Roundtable on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls to discuss the need for action. Politicians are ignoring the facts even though there are the sociological aspects of these deaths .

The statistics published by the RCMP show that Indigenous women are 3.5 times more likely than non-Indigenous women to be murdered by a spouse or family member and 7 times more likely to be murdered by an acquaintance. (These numbers are derived from the RCMP report but not published by the RCMP.) Beatrice Vaugrante, Director-General of Amnistie International Canada Francophone said, “After this latest report, claims that the government is already on the right track in stopping violence against Indigenous women have no possible credibility. Rather than continuing to defend the status quo, governments in Canada should make a clear public commitment to working with Indigenous women to develop the kind of comprehensive national response so clearly required by the scale and severity of this violence.”

How do you tell the story of aboriginal women in Canada today?“ asked  National Post Canada and gave 12 aboriginal teens in Winnipeg cameras to document their lives.

Silent no more. (Source : National Post)
“You can do it with horror stories and grim statistics: 1,200 missing and murdered; 54% more likely to suffer assault, abuse, threats of violence. You can do it with politics: national outrage, political roundtables, calls for a formal inquiry. Or you can reach out to the people most directly affected and give them the tools to tell their stories. This unique project put cameras in the hands of 12 aboriginal girls from Maples Collegiate in Winnipeg and taught them how to document the reality of their lives. We took the conversation to the front lines. Here’s what the girls had to say. We all need to listen.”

There are 12 girls in this classroom, all aboriginal students at Winnipeg’s Maples Collegiate Institute. They range from 15 to 19 — about the same age as Tina Fontaine, whose body was found wrapped in plastic in the Red River last summer, and Rinelle Harper, who survived a brutal assault and was left for dead on the banks of the adjoining Assiniboine River.
The girls at Maples are chosen for a four-day workshop — a partnership between the National Post and the School of Communications, Media & Design at Toronto’s Centennial College — to help them share their point of view. They are also keenly aware of the subtle and not-so-subtle racism aboriginals face – particularly in Winnipeg. The week of their workshop, a teacher at Kelvin High School, across town, wrote a Facebook post about aboriginals that made headlines: “They have contributed NOTHING to the development of Canada. Just standing with their hand out. Get to work, tear the treaties and shut the FK up already. Why am I on the hook for their cultural support?” (The teacher was later put on unpaid leave.) “…

The girls experience reverse-racism as well. They are bullied, and called “whitewashed.” 


Danielle using camera
Danielle learning to frame a photo during the workshop at Maples Collegiate. Photo: Samira Mohyeddin / National Post

And yet they have deep pride in their traditions. They don’t despair about their futures – if anything, they have grand dreams and ambitions, both for themselves and the wider aboriginal community. 
These girls are certainly not victims. 

One girl says, “No one has ever asked us about this before.”
“It’s kind of a harsh realization that we don’t talk about these things,” says another teacher, Ryan Cook. “The more we talk about them, the easier it’s going to get.”

Source : National Post


Let’s read their Stories!
Go to National Post and select the portraits to read their stories.


Belonging to the first generation of true Europeans, with roots almost covering the continent, I spread my life between Germany and Serbia. Read more