Good Sunday Morning!
It has been so lovely to be home this weekend. Hope to see some of you at this evening’s Sidney Santa parade – Sidney Sparkles. Then back to Ottawa for parliament and to Montreal for COP15. Sad to have so little time at home before the holidays.
John and I are so looking forward to our holiday. We are taking the train across the country to join other family members in Toronto. The risk is that I may sleep the whole way! We will have Christmas Day on the train. John has been brushing up on Christmas Carols on his guitar. I am sure we will end up with many new friends from around the world by the time we reach Toronto.
The news that preoccupies me as I write this is as far from holiday cheer as the mind can reach. Tuesday is the 33rd anniversary of the Ecole Polytechnique killings. I will hope for unanimous consent to allow me to speak on behalf of Greens to share our collective commitment to end violence against women.
This week we had news of the police conclusion that three Indigenous women, and potentially four, were killed in and around Winnipeg by the same man. I remember the rising sense of panic reaching all the way to Ottawa. Here we were, pontificating on a nearly daily basis about how Canada would act on the calls to justice of the Inquiry on Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls, 2S+ peoples (MMIWG), and it seemed the killings were on the rise. I remember Leah Gazan (NDP MP for Winnipeg Centre) saying her community was ground zero for murders of Indigenous women. She spoke of genocide. I agreed.
I do not have any Indigenous women friends who have not lost a mom, an auntie, a sister or a cousin to violence. Not one. Too many to mention. And I realized almost none of my settler culture women friends had that experience.
It was so common as to be almost normalized in Indigenous communities. Right after the MMIWG was released in June of 2019, we gathered in Victoria to discuss the report. We were settler culture women and Indigenous women. I will never forget the shock when one of my friends whose non-traditional name is Rose Henry and whose traditional name is Grandma Losah, spoke almost casually. I had known her for years. She had come to our wedding two years earlier, and I had had no inkling of the violence in her past. “I was left for dead in a dumpster,” she said. She had been much younger. How she had the courage and emotional strength to recover from that to be a resilient community organizer is a miracle.
But the attacks on Indigenous women and girls just keep increasing. Like the murders of 26 women by the monstrous Robert Pickton, (or Toronto men in the Gay community, for that matter), it seems clear that the police take some crimes more seriously than others. Marginalised and Indigenous women are prey to monsters more often than the white and privileged.
The recent news adds to the litany of crimes against Indigenous women. Arrested for the killings is Jeremy Skibicki, 35. The women were all murdered within the same year. Rebecca Contois, a beautiful young 24-year-old woman was murdered most recently – her body found in a landfill in May of this year. He is also charged with the deaths of Marcedes Myran, 26 and Morgan Harris, 39. A fourth woman who hasn’t been identified, is likely Indigenous and thought to be in her mid-20s. The accused maintains his innocence.
The MMIWGI has a long list of critical recommendations. Hardly any of them have been met. Prime Minister Trudeau parses his words carefully. It always sounds as though the government accepts the recommendations as it announces billions of dollars on programmes that are all good things. This is how Trudeau responded to the failure to meet the MMIWG demands, on the inquiry’s second anniversary: “We will continue to respond to the National Inquiry’s Final Report in a way that honours those we have lost, leads to transformative change, and protects current and future generations.”
The way to respond is to actually commit to the calls to justice in the report. Many of them were already Green policy before the MMIWG report was released:
- Bring in a Guaranteed Annual Income to eliminate poverty for all.
- Provide safe and affordable public ground transportation throughout Canada.
- End the use of “man camps” worker sites for massive resource extraction projects.
As well, there were many specific and immediate needs for support in reporting crime. Counselors for trauma and on and on.
The first recommendation of the MMIWG was for all Canadians to read the report. The next is to act on it and not allow the calls for justice to gather dust.
As I sign off, I want to share Priscilla Ewbank’s great local news story in The Driftwood about the retirement of the Mayne Queen ferry. It does remind me of how much I miss Island Tides and Priscilla’s regular Saturna reports there! Thanks again to Christa Grace-Warwick for decades of local and global news in Island Tides!
Until next week!
Love and gratitude,
Some highlights of work in the House this week:
Saanich-Gulf Islands Greens