The Canadian Government announced the official launch of a national inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women (MMIW) on Aug. 3.
It’s about time, given the RCMP report stating there are a total of 164 missing women and 1,017 homicide victims in Canada — a total of 1,181 MMIW — between 1980 and 2012.
Those are staggering numbers, especially if we assume they have gone up since 2013.
To those who say, ‘Violence in the indigenous community is indigenous-on-indigenous violence, therefore it’s an indigenous problem’ — I have a response.
Here in the Robson Valley, we have the Simpcw First Nation remembering the 100-year anniversary of their forced relocation at the same time our Federal Government takes aim at truth and reconciliation.
In August of 1916, as many as 60 people, mothers, fathers and children, were forced by the government to leave Tête Jaune Cache and travel to Chu Chua, B.C., to live at Simpcw First Nation’s main reserve, according to Celia Nord, archives coordinator for the Simpcw First Nation.
This month, the Simpcw people will have their symbolic return to Tête Jaune Cache.
We — as a nation, as a society — need to take responsibility for past mistakes, mistakes such as the forced relocation of an entire population.
This is without even getting started on the completely unnecessary and irreversible effects of residential schools, the last one having just closed in 1996.
Our society must acknowledge its impact on indigenous peoples, the effects that we still see — perhaps violence within the community, among other things.
So, to the people with the aforementioned mentality: the way I see it, any problem within the indigenous community isn’t just an indigenous problem — it’s a Canadian problem — a problem for us all to rectify.
I think, while our government works toward truth and reconciliation, and the Simpcw First Nation remember the 100-year anniversary of their forced relocation, the rest of our society should be celebrating the survival, and (hopefully) ever improving relationship with our indigenous peoples.
And the Simpcw First Nation is a perfect example.
We should be so thankful to have a First Nation in this valley so engaged in community projects, such as their involvement in the proposed VGD resort. There is a healthy relationship between the Simpcw and other local communities, active dialogue allows for a give-and-take between everyone.
The Simpcw’s territory within the Secwepemc Nation is being increasingly recognized, Chief Nathan Matthew says on the Simpcw website, and the First Nation is working toward a balance between cultural heritage values and economic growth.
“Our membership is well educated, healthy and economically stable,” says Matthew via the website.
“We can look forward to supporting our members by continuing to deliver effective education, social and health programs and services… Our future is in our hands,” he says.
I agree with Chief Matthew, maybe even in a broader sense, but as a society — our future is in our hands.
By remembering and acknowledging our society’s past mistakes, and celebrating the successes and the rights of oppressed communities, I believe we can continue to rectify the current shortcomings of society.
The inquiry into MMIW is just the beginning.