Since initially publishing Six Nations Councillor Helen Miller: ‘Stop blaming colonization & residential schools‘ VoiceofCanada has been made aware of an excellent article about violence against native women by a woman – whom I have met personally – with a 30-year connection to aboriginal communities and, as she says, “great respect for the indigenous way of life.”
She wrote to tell me how pleased she was to have read Helen Miller’s observations about the futility of constantly blaming colonization and residential schools since she had written nearly identical words in her own article – before having read Miller’s letter.
Violence Against Aboriginal Women
CounterPoise.ca, May 27, 2011
On March 25, 2011, the Canadian House of Commons all-party Standing Committee on the Status of Women tabled Interim Report: Call Into the Night: An Overview of Violence Against Aboriginal Women (the final report should be ready by the fall of 2011). Hedy Fry (Liberal, B.C.) is the chair of this committee, and Irene Mathyssen (NDP, Ontario) and Tilly O’Neill-Gordon (Conservative, New Brunswick) are the vice-chairs. The committee traversed the country between April 2010 and February 2011, meeting with reserve, rural and urban stakeholders. More than 150 witnesses provided testimony. In her press release regarding the interim report, Fry said the problem was getting worse.
A Statistics Canada report, released May 17, 2011, provides chilling validation of the committee’s findings. In Violent Victimization of Aboriginal Women in the Canadian Provinces, 2009, author Shannon Brennan noted that nearly 67,000 aboriginal women reported they had experienced violence in the previous 12 months. This represents 47% of aboriginal women, 15 years and older, in the provinces. (The territories (Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut) were not included in this study.) Aboriginal women were nearly three times as likely to self-report these incidents, as compared to non-aboriginal women. Males acting alone were primarily responsible for the altercations.
I was saddened to learn the situation remained as bad as this. More than 30 years ago, I worked in a native organization in which most of the aboriginal women on staff were getting beaten up on a regular basis. I strongly advised one of my co-workers to leave her abusive male partner, which she eventually did. However she had to live with a permanent reminder of the failed relationship: a skeletal disfigurement.
Why does the violence continue to get worse? I would argue that the constant blaming of forces such as colonization and the residential schools has not helped move the dialogue forward. Yet many witnesses who presented evidence to the Status of Women committee included these two factors among the main causes.
Don’t get me wrong. I know that colonization and the residential schools have contributed substantially to the dysfunction, but I maintain it is completely unrealistic for some people to insist that all aboriginal misfortune only started when non-aboriginals arrived on this continent. […]
Read the rest of this article…
- Counterpoise, May 27/11: Violence Against Aboriginal Women
- VoiceofCanada, June 10/11: Six Nations Councillor Helen Miller: ‘Stop blaming colonization and residential schools’
- VoiceofCanada, June 10/11: Gary McHale to Six Nations: Beware what you teach your children
- Counterpoise: www.CounterPoise.ca