Two weeks ago Prime Minister Stephen Harper was in Whitehorse, NWT as part of his regular tour of Canada’s north. Shortly before Harper’s trip to the north, a 15 year old girl named Tina Fontaine was murdered, wrapped in plastic bags and her body dumped into the Red River in Winnipeg.
The death of this young girl has sparked a renewed call for a inquiry into why it is our nation’s aboriginal women (and women in general) continue to go missing at such an alarming rate.
Harper addressed the murder during a press conference in Whitehorse saying the death of Fontaine and subsequently the ongoing disappearances and slaying should be viewed as crimes and not a sociological phenomenon. Harper’s continual refusal to investigate the issue makes him appear the proverbial ostrich with its head in the sand; refusing to acknowledge something in hopes it will disappear.
Fontaine marks yet another name to the list of over 1,100 women that have been murdered or gone missing over the last three decades. She also serves as a stark reminder that these tragedies are still on going. It is a reminder that Vanderhoofian’s know all too well, having experienced first hand the tragedy and unfathomable pain of losing some of their daughters.
Perhaps the reality of these ongoing crimes are lost on Mr. Harper, but it isn’t lost on those of us who live along the aptly named Highway of Tears.
Harper’s refusal to even consider an inquiry into these killings and disappearances seems to me like a slap in the face to everyone who has lost their daughter, mother, sister, wife, girlfriend or friend.
It seems insulting to the Tina Fontaines, Madison Scotts, Emmaculate Basils and Loren Donn Leslies of the country and it needs to stop.
Aboriginal women, whom are the primarily victims of this ongoing tragedy, make up just 4.3 per cent of Canada’s population. Despite this, aboriginal women account for 16 per cent of female murder victims and 11.3 per cent of Canada’s missing women, Canada wide.
It should be noted that while Harper and his government refuse to address the issue, every other province and territory in Canada is in favour of an inquiry.
Harper’s opponents also weighed in on the controversial remarks and positions with Justin Trudeau and Kathleen Wynne both advocating for an inquiry and condemning Harpers attitudes as out of touch and on the “wrong side of history.”
It’s a touchy subject and rightfully so given the pain communities like Fort St. James, Vanderhoof, Prince George, Prince Rupert and many others have endured.
What is clear is that Harper is out of touch with the reality of what is happening here and is choosing to focus his attention elsewhere in hopes that the issue will go away. Harper is quick to condemn the acts of injustice of other nations like Russia all the while ignoring the injustice happening in communities like ours across the country.
Enough is enough; it is time for an inquiry, it is time for a change of players if our current government will not step up to the plate. These women are all of our mothers, daughters, sisters, wives, aunts, friends and girlfriends and we have a duty to bring home the Madison Scotts of the world and ensure that no more of our sisters go missing. You can bet that if Harper’s family members went missing we’d have gotten to the bottom of the issue by now.
A society is measured not merely by its monetary wealth, but by the way it treats its most vulnerable citizens, something we’re content to ignore it seems. Step up to the plate, Mr. Harper, bring back our girls.