Jennifer went missing on her 18th birthday. Our Chief with Lucille holding Jennifer's banner.
I went to a Native rally this morning. The Rally was highlighting the disappearance of Indian women in Canada. Many of them are meeting death, disappearing and their killers are not found, or their bodies are not found. Our Reserve has seen four women disappear or have been murdered in the last few years. One of the women was murdered by the infamous pig farmer, Robert Pickton. Two of the women's murders have not been solved and the other girl has not been found. The number of Aboriginal (Native) women that are killed or disappear in Canada is very high, approximately 500 to date.
The Rally took advantage of the world stage. The Olympic Flame is traveling throughout Canada. Some say it is not the venue for this type of awareness campaign. I disagree. When China had the Olympics most Global North Nations took the opportunity of the world stage to highlight the treatment of citizens within China's borders. Canada is a good country, but it could always be better. Especially when it comes to the treatment of Indian people. Indians in Canada still suffer from a host of ills that mainstream society does not. There is quite a difference between the quality of life for mainstream Canadians compared to that of the Indian. How can you be expected to correct your behaviour if you are not aware of your conduct? That is the point of bringing awareness: you point out shortcomings or mistakes, that in turn gives the person or country the opportunity to address the shortcomings, the chance to correct their behaviour.
With democracies the electorate gives the government the chance to correct their behaviour and if they don't, the people vote them out. In the case for Indians, this is not a viable option due to the scattered electorate and the small number of voters. The Indians cannot affect change in the current voting system. So other avenues must be used to make the government/country correct their behaviour. The chosen way is to let the world know of Canada's conduct involving Indians.
I read with interest the comments made on the Winnipeg Free Press story of the Rally, or as it was put, the protest. It is funny as I was there and I didn't see anyone protesting against the Olympic torch relay. However, the media usually gets things right, at least that is what is the general belief about the media. In any case readers comments on the story were very harsh. The Indian Rally was thought of as a bunch of whiners, tax payer wasters, complainers, money wasters and other nice sentiments about Indians. The Indians shouldn't be going around protesting. People are sick of them crying all the time. That was the general view of the public regarding the Olympic torch rally of Indians.
I have come to realize that a person can not change their way of thinking. They only change if the issues, the theme, the incident coincides with their belief system. No one is really open minded. The number of hate filled comments to the Free Press or CBC feedback forms are not new or startling. It is the feeling that can be freely expressed when they can be anonymous.
I am happy the Olympics are in Canada. I am also conflicted about the issues facing the British Columbia Indian population. There are outstanding land issues being pushed aside in order to accommodate the games. That's the thing isn't it, there are always issues and how can we support all of them.
A portion of the Awareness Rally was on Horseback. It was cool to see and take part.