Over the last few weeks we’ve heard an international amber alert to bring back the nearly 300 Nigerian girls who were recently abducted by a notoriously violent Islamic militant group from their school dormitories.
To imagine little girls being brutally kidnapped simply for their desire to get an education is a horror to imagine, yet here we are. As the world holds out hope that these young women will be brought home safely, I ask that you add another group of women to your thoughts and prayers: Canada’s aboriginal women.
A recent report from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) has found reports of more than 1,000 missing or murdered aboriginal women in the country. Eighty-seven percent of these women are mothers. “If you put it into context, it means that over the last 30 years, 40 aboriginal women and girls didn’t — every year — did not come home to see their families,” said New Democratic Party status of women critic Niki Ashton.
Despite cries for a national government inquiry, the government has been uncooperative and instead offered to conduct another study regarding the missing women. Prime Minister Stephen Harper has said, “Our government from the very outset has said, as one of its priorities — one of its most important priorities — tackling crime including violence against women and girls.”
If that were true in practice, the government would be taking real action to find justice for these women, not conducting another study that will inevitably show how many aboriginal women have been endangered.
In Nigeria the government has also been slow to provide any support to finding the missing girls. There are even reports linking the First Lady of Nigeria to the arrest of Naomi Mutah Nyadar, the leader of the #BringBackOurGirls protests.
Despite government inaction, the global call to bring these girls safely home has been tremendous, especially on social media platforms like Twitter where the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls has been trending for the last two weeks.
But where is the international outcry for Canada’s aboriginal women? Where’s the clever hashtag spotlighting the issue online for all to see?
It might pull at your heart strings more to imagine young girls being kidnapped from school, but imagine all the young girls in Canada who are now motherless due to this horrific injustice. Canada’s missing and murdered women and mothers will not be dismissed or forgotten here.
Whether it be school girls in Nigeria or aboriginal women in Canada the message for both is the same: girls and women aren’t valued.
In order for there to be any real protections for women and girls in Canada, Nigeria, or anywhere in the world for that matter, we need to first understand why women are so vulnerable to violence and then break down the societal beliefs that make it impossible for women to be seen as equals. Until then women and girls will continue to be the targets of violence, and governments won’t feel the urgency to find justice for its victims.
You can help the aboriginal women of Canada by signing our petition demanding that the government conduct a national inquiry on the matter.
Photo Credit: BiblioArchives via Flickr