Once upon a time in Canada,
Care bears were perpetuating systemic violence…
Native American women in Canada represent approximately two percent of the entire population (Statistics Canada, 2017). In contrast, they are overrepresented in prostitution, as Farley et al., (2005) demonstrated, approximately 52% of the women in prostitution in Vancouver, British Columbia, are Native American. Through different studies, Kingsley and Mark (2000) confirmed this very high proportion of one third to one half. There are different proportions of Native American women in prostitution in other Western provinces, starting from 32% in Alberta, between 50% and 90% in Manitoba and 100% in Saskatchewan (DeRiviere, 2006; Nixon et al., 2002; Sikka, 2009). A multitude of factors like racism, colonialism and the legacy of boarding school have contributed for years to the exploitation of these women (Bourgeois, 2015).
There is also an overrepresentation of Native American women in the Canadian criminal justice system; in 2015 they were 12 times more likely to be in custody than any other women in Canada (Justice Gov. Canada, 2017). Sikka (2009) stated that this contributes and facilitates their entry into prostitution, since they have few options for employment, and suffer from the legacy of abuse and neglect.
Native American women are also overrepresented in missings and murders cases across Canada. Approximately 1181 Native women disappeared between 1980 to 2012 (RCMP, 2017) and according to Statistics Canada (2014), the average rate of Native female victims of homicides was six times higher than homicides of non Native female. These figures clearly demonstrate the discrimination and systemic violence they suffered for decades.
Throughout the years, the law enforcement, the state and the community have failed to respect, protect, support and resolve the issue of prostituted Native American women in Canada. The police and the citizens’ misconduct towards them through verbal, physical and sexual abuses are reported in numerous research and investigations within the country. The stereotypes of worthlessness, blameworthy victims and lack of credibility (Strega et al., 2014) conveyed in the media, fuel violent behaviours which results in harassments, insults, beatings, rapes and murders. In a welcoming and developed country such as Canada, prejudice, racism and indifference still remain the primary causes of misleading investigations in the cases for missings and murders of Native American women (Stolen Sisters, 2004). This should be highly condamned, not accepted nor normalised.
Literature is beneficial to raise awareness on this issue and adequately tackle the shameful indifference of the Canadian society towards Native American women (NWAC, FAQNW). I encourage you all to take few hours of your time to read about this issue and to discuss about it with your friends and family in order to cease the perpetuation of prejudice. SPEAK OUT and SHARE. Their lives matter, all lives matter. I believe that together we can end this slow genocide.