>> Sunday, February 6, 2011
Awhile ago, on Facebook, I joined a group called Red Circle Alert, which was
formed by (Red Power United - Native Rights Movement) to try and help Native Families and Communities find Missing Friends and Family Members.
I have, over the course of my studies, become increasingly aware of, and concerned about, issues of violence against Aboriginal peoples - and especially women - in Canada. It upsets me. I do share the alerts as they are posted or sent to me by email, and I always hope that the person will be found safely. Some are.
Tyeshia Jones was not. Tyeshia was 18 years old and a member of the Cowichan Tribes. She went missing on 22 Jan. 2011; her body was found less than a week later, and autopsy has since confirmed that she was a victim of homicide. This was not a woman living a dangerous life-style. She had been to a party earlier in the evening, and was walking to a store to meet up with a friend from whom she had become separated. She never made it.
Aboriginal women are far too vulnerable to violence in Canada, especially in our western provinces. Although they make up only 3% of the total female population, they represent approximately 10% of the total number of female homicides. They are, too, 3 times more likely than non-Aboriginal women to be assaulted or killed by strangers. And clearance rates for murders of Aboriginal women in Canada are lower. In 2010, for example, charges were laid in 53% of cases involving Aboriginal women, compared to 84% of cases involving non-Aboriginal women.
And contrary to popular (mis)conception, not all of the women and girls who are murdered or missing in Canada have anything at all to do with the sex trade. Certainly, women who are involved in that life are at increased risk - and in some provinces, Aborginal women are seriously over-represented - interestingly enough, a very high percentage of these women are women who were removed from their home communities & families (the so-called Sixties Scoop is a misnomer - the practice of scooping is alive and well, and Aboriginal children are hugely over-represented in foster care and facilities for youth) - but before I get off on another tangent ... in cases where such information is known, turns out that only about 50% of missing or murdered women were, in fact, participating in such risk behaviours.... and even if that stat were higher, that would not negate, or mitigate, the problem.
There is a great deal more information available in the Sisters In Spirit Iniative 2010 Research Report. And there's yet another tangent that I have already been off once and will no doubt visit again .... I am so incredibly angry that the Canadian government has cut funding for the Sisters In Spirit Iniative! Here's a quote that just makes my blood boil:
Con MP Shelly Glover, Parliamentary Secretary for Indian and Northern Affairs :
"That project was finished. Don’t mix apples and oranges. That project
was finished, now we’re working with them to pursue other projects."
I have sent my letter off to a number of politicians - for all the good it does. Did get some (inane) responses though... but that's a topic for another
Anyway ... I really do need to get back to my reading - next up is the Coordinating Committee of Senior Officials Missing Women Working Group. (2010) “Issues Related to the High Number of Murdered and Missing Women in Canada” ...which I have read enough already to know that I shall be doing some more writing about that too...but before I shut up, I wanted to tell you what I actually set out to write about today when I first mentioned the Red Circle Alert - and that is a young lady by the name of Lee-Ann Chyoweth-Pawis.
She is missing... has been since June 2005, at which time she was 17 years old. And she went missing from Midland Ontario - a town about 10km from me. I lived here then - how is it that I have never once heard about her disappearance? I read newspapers, watch the news, see posters... lived here then... the fact that I cannot recall hearing a word makes me unhappy.
As far as I can tell, Lee-Ann is still missing: she is listed on several registries of missing persons, but does not come up at all in a search of Google news. It makes me very sad. Tomorrow, I think I will call the contact number and see if they will tell me if she is still missing - if so, will update this blog, and at least submit the info to the Red Circle Alert group.
I wish there was more that I could do....