The Race to Forget

Mother and child

The RCMP study showing that 70% of Aboriginal female murder victims were killed by Aboriginal men, is leading to a very disquieting assumption – that being that because the so-called “solved” cases of murdered Aboriginal women shows that 70% of their killers were Aboriginal men, therefore 70% of those responsible for the missing victims must also be Aboriginal men. Such a conclusion lies behind the Minister’s statement that Aboriginal men have to learn how to treat Aboriginal women better. Yet to make such a leap from solved cases to unsolved cases is a potentially huge mistake.

Firstly the data does NOT tell us whether the 70% conclusion is accurate. It may be but we don’t know. We have not been given enough information about the investigations that were conducted, and whether the “murder” led to a murder conviction.

We don’t know whether women whose deaths were attributed to suicide or accident or overdose, or freezing temperature, or drowning, may in fact have been murdered.

We do know from studies and inquiries that Aboriginal people generally are more likely to plead guilty to crimes they did not commit than non-Aboriginal accused for a lot of reasons.

We also know that police are sometimes prone to closing a file as solved even where a conviction has not been entered because they are sure of the perpetrator’s identity.

In addition, the majority of killers of female murder victims will be someone the victim knew (and therefore someone from their family or ethnic community) no matter which community you look at.

However, when it comes to unsolved murders and missing women, the fact that an Aboriginal victim’s perpetrator is NOT easily and quickly identified, is highly suggestive of the likelihood that her perpetrator is not Aboriginal.

That issue is being overlooked in this race to forget.

About Senator Murray Sinclair (retired)

Ojibway Anishinaabe Inini Mizhanagheezhik (n’dizhinikaaz) Namiigoonse (n’dodem) Lawyer, Mediator, Public Speaker Currently Canadian Senator for Manitoba Justice of the Court of Queen's Bench of Manitoba (2001-2016) Associate Chief Judge off the Manitoba Provincial Court) (1988-2001) Co-Commissioner of the Aboriginal Justice Inquiry of Manitoba) (1988-91) Paediatric Cardiac Surgery Inquiry Judge (1997-2000) Chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (2009-2015) Thinker, poet, writer, philosopher, speaker.
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