I watched a devastating movie recently called Wind River. Set in the United States, the series of events painfully drew attention to the lack of effort put in by authorities when indigenous women are murdered or go missing.
The story describes the experiences of those who mourn the loss of missing or murdered loved ones. The movie also depicts how abuse is often overlooked by authorities in Indigenous communities.
This past week a longtime advocate for missing and murdered indigenous women, Bernie Williams, gave final words to wrap up the national inquiry. Williams, now in her 60s has led the fight for women on the East side of Vancouver for 30 years. She shared her own story of abuse which started at the age of 3:
“As many of you know, I don’t wear shorts very often, because I have cigarette burns all through my legs right up to my back. … This is what we endured. We were just kids. At the age of 11 to 12 years old, six of us girls were sold into the sex trade work.”
Her three sisters and mother were all murdered and Williams questioned why it has taken 4,000 missing and murdered girls and women to bring about an inquiry.
Williams insists that it’s time that the wave of violence is stopped.
The inquiry will continue to carry on privately, and was initiated by the federal government in 2015. It was intended to investigate the high number of missing and murdered indigenous women across Canada and to give family members of the girls and women a chance to be heard.
Chief Commissioner Marion Butler has shared that the inquiry needs to continue on. Butler spoke with the Canadian Press and indicated that so far, the inquiry has produced enough material to draw up a report, but that the findings only scratch the surface of the stories that remain untold.
The Commissioner has asked the federal government for a two-year extension on the inquiry. There needs to be an emphasis put on cases involving Indigenous women and girls that are not yet solved. All murdered, missing and abused people deserve the same respect and attention to be paid, regardless of race or nationality. It is also necessary for authorities to determine what is at the core and root of the violence so that women are not the target anymore.