Call For Inquiry-
Earlier this week I was fortunate to have been invited to a panel discussion on the missing and murdered aboriginal women in BC. Many of these women have gone missing from an area known as the Highway of Tears.
I found the space was a little impersonal, perhaps not enough student’s students showed up as there were many empty seats and the group was very dispersed. I sat in the third row, not too sure what to expect.
The first speaker, Carleen Thomas, was incredibly emotional. Once she mentioned her grandmother , I realized this discussion was going to be difficult to witness without becoming emotional myself. Thomas explained the dynamics of her family, how respected and loved her grandmother was as the leader of the family. Thomas’ grandmother had inspired her to pursue her potential, to take matters into her own hands and to realize her role as a leader.
Thomas described the missing and murdered women as a “gross symptom of this country .” Referring to the entire issue as something Canada is plagued with, alike a disease. In order to cleanse this disease, Canada will need to change. To be a “symptom” of the country implies the way the country functions has something to do with the issue. She went on to remind us that in Coast Salish history men and women are equals , in every sense of the word. Sshe indicated this was because there needs to be balance. Before colonizationcolonization, there was balance and harmony within families and this harmony was reflected in the communities. Thomas suggested we consider the root causes of these cases of missing and murdered women… . It seems a very prominent root cause is the vulnerability of the women . Thomas suggested the women were not aware of their potential. Perhaps they were uneducated about the dangers of hitchhiking and prostitution.
Next, the Liberal representative from the North Vancouver riding spoke. Johnathon Wilkinson had a similar view on the topic as Thomas, calling it a “national disgrace and a national tragedy.” He continued to explain how his party believes it is imperative to call for an inquiry. Much like Thomas, Wilkinson also suggested we look to the root causes of these tragic outcomes, and perhaps if we can correct the issues of vulnerability and poverty we could be successfully preventing such issues from reoccurring.
I was less impressed with the Green Representative’s outlook on this topic . The representative was Claire Martin, and, I feel as though she may have gotten off topic when it was her turn to speak. Rather than focus on the topic, Martin expanded and discussed pay inequality. I felt it was awkward and a little inappropriate to speak about pay inequality when there were people opening their hearts and sharing stories of their missing family members. The purpose of this panel was to discuss the missing and murdered indigenous women in BC. She did mention that the green Green party Party is intent of on calling for inquiry. That was the most important thing she spoke of in relation to this topic.
When the others spoke, they shared personal accounts of women in their lives who are missing or murdered. This was difficult to hear. Lilian Howard spoke with such compassion and sincerity, she softly spoke and a resonating quote of hers is how I will leave this: “Your story is going to help our story come out .” I hope this post inspires you to question what you can do to pressure our government to call for inquiry. I hope together we can discover the root causes and take initiative to correct the issues that cause people to be in these situations. For example, when discussing this topic with my mom, who works in operations with Translink she suggested transportation alternatives. The highway of tears is one of the main areas where women go missing, usually because they are hitchhiking and are picked up by terrible people. Should there be alternative transport like a bus or a train, perhaps these young women would have safer and easier options.