“Dismissive.” “Out of touch.” “A travesty for the victims.” With these forceful words, one of the world’s leading human rights organizations fired back at Canada’s national police force and the federal government for their response to the group’s report alleging gang-rape, sexual assaults and other abuses of Native women by those charged with protecting them.
Canada’s national police force insists it is taking seriously allegations of widespread police misconduct and abuse against Native women, including several rapes, death threats and violence, brought forward by the U.S.-based Human Rights Watch (HRW).
Human rights and indigenous groups in Canada are celebrating after Parliament voted unanimously on February 27 to launch a special committee on missing and murdered Native women.
Carrying red and yellow roses symbolizing the 600 aboriginal women murdered and missing, respectively, thousands marched in cities across Canada on Valentine’s Day, banging on the door of the Prime Minister’s office in Ottawa and bringing outrage to Vancouver’s police station steps.
Explosive allegations of gang rape, widespread abuse and anti-Native racism have rocked Canada’s national police force, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), which vowed on February 13 to investigate the claims by one of the world’s leading rights groups.
Idle No More’s founders and leaders are determined to keep the movement’s momentum going and to maintain pressure on aboriginal leaders and the federal government to enact concrete change.
When the housing crisis in Attawapiskat First Nation made headlines worldwide in October 2011 after the community declared a state of emergency, few had heard of the band’s chief, Theresa Spence. Now, because of a hunger strike she launched in the shadow of Parliament Hill, Spence has become a household name across Canada, and a symbol of the still-growing Idle No More movement.
The release of Wally Oppal’s scathing final report from B.C.’s missing women inquiry was met with sobbing, drumming, and anger on Dec. 17 as families and friends began the next stage of grieving for their lost ones, and rights groups rallied around the call for a Canada-wide investigation.
As one of the four Saskatchewan women who founded the Idle No More movement late last year–a phenomenon which in only two months has transformed the conversation in Canada around Indigenous People – Sylvia McAdam has faced a steep learning curve about social activism, political manoeuvering, and media spin.
As Idle No More prepares for its next day of action on January 28, Indigenous activists and thinkers are taking time to reflect on the grassroots movement