Ottawa, Canada (DailyHaze) – Canada has a problem that not many talk about and some even consider to be nothing more than folklore. Each year indigenous women go missing and get murdered in alarming numbers. Families have screamed for help from the government, only to have their screams fall on deaf ears.
The stories of these missing women has been forced into the shadows. A dark secret that for many years went unspoken. A fact sheet fromNative Women’s Association of Canada released in 2010 gives a glimpse at the dangers of being an indigenous woman in Canada.
According to the fact sheet, between 2000 and 2008 Aboriginal women and girls represented 10% of all female homicides in Canada. While they may not seem like an alarming number at first glance, when you consider Aboriginal women only make up 3% of the female population, the severity of the situation becomes clear.
Out of the 582 cases the NWAC gathered at that time, 67% were murder cases, 20% were still missing and 4% were cases of suspicious death. The suspicious death cases represent deaths that were declared natural or accidental by the police, but questioned by family members or the community. The remaining 9% were cases unknown in nature. Which means it was not clear if the women were still missing, murdered or died under suspicious circumstances.
The oldest case in the NWCA’s database happened in 1944. At the time of the fact sheet, 39% of the cases had occurred after the year 2000 and 17% occurred in the 1990s. But 2% of the cases occurred before 1970, leaving a twenty year gap that could hold many undocumented cases. This has been one of the biggest problems in tracking these missing women, no one is sure exactly how many are going under the radar. Women who are simply gone without a trace.
The women are normally younger, with 55% of the women being under the age of 31. Women and girls under the age of 18 make up 17% of the cases. Only 8% of cases involved women over the age of 45. But the majority of these women in the NWCA’s database were mothers, leaving at least 440 children without their mother. To make matters worse, there is very little information available about what happens to these children after they lose their mother.
After years of pleading for help, families may finally start to receive it. In December of last year, the government finally announced that they would do a public inquiry into the missing and murdered women. While this announcement gave many families a sense of hope that they would finally be receiving answers, advocates are a bit less trusting. They are concerned whether or not families are going to receive the solutions they desperately need. The solutions they deserve. Some of these families have been waiting for this announcement for over twenty years.The majority of cases reported are in the British Columbia area, with Alberta following in second. More than half of the NWCA’s cases occurred in Western provinces. The South (Quebec, Manitoba and Ontario) made up 29% of cases, then 6% in the North and 2% in the Atlantic provinces. Surprisingly, 70% of women disappeared from, and 60% were found murdered in, urban areas. Rural and on-reserve cases made up 7% of missing cases and 13% of murder cases. Over half of these murders have gone unsolved. Which that alone is a terrifying thought.
The NWCA is also saying that the inquiry must look into the disappearance of indigenous women on ships from Thunder Bay, Ontario. The NWCA believes that human trafficking is playing a strong role in regards to these missing women. Reports of the indigenous people beingsold into the sex trade on these ships began in 2013. The sex trade on ships has been going on for generations, according to people in the community.
It is being said that the inquiry will be looking into the claims of people being sold into the sex trade in Thunder Bay. Up to this point, reports of indigenous women being prostituted on ships has been viewed as nothing more than a “urban myth” by law enforcement. Families who have had their loved ones go missing from these ship stand firm that the claims are true.