Monday, April 13, 2015

The Human Face of Lost Women

Roxanne Marie Isadore, 24, was mother to Gaile, Connor and CJ when her sister saw her for the last time in Edmonton in September 2007.

Recently I phoned my cousin Susan in Whitehorse to let her know that my elderly mother had moved to a new residence. I could tell she was bracing for news of Moms death -- we aren't a close extended family and it had been a while since we had talked. We caught up on family news including the reality that she is retiring and joining all her siblings. The youngest, Pauline, is doing well, which is a little miracle. Pauline was adopted as a baby, a Coast Salish First Nation child. She struggled with her obvious differences from her Caucasian family and early in her teens she began running away from home. Soon she was a sex trade worker in downtown Vancouver and she appeared to be lost to her family.

I knew that she had been working the streets during the Robert Pickton years and during his trial for multiple murders of women she reported on events for a local newspaper. But I hadn't realized until this conversation that she knew Pickton.

I always think of Pauline when I hear of the aboriginal women who have disappeared in this country. Instead of being a terrible statistic of more than 1,000 women dead and missing, there is a human face. The CBC has started a project to tell the stories of these women, an ambitious and important enterprise. The stories are difficult to hear, but they bring home the tragic loss.

Our federal government seems to want to minimize the need to know more, and recently the RCMP told the public that seventy percent of murdered aboriginal women have been killed by aboriginal men. Why does that matter? What purpose does that serve?When have we ever heard about the race or ethnicity of other murderers in this country?

The United Church has supported the call for a national inquiry into the disappearance of aboriginal women and so do I. I hope we all pay attention to the human stories of those who are gone and those who love them.



Frank said...

I'm just in the process of reading John Ralston Saul's recent book "The Comeback". It's asserting the argument that we are now at a unique point in our history with our aboriginal neighbours to restore a decent, respectful relationship and resolve so many ongoing issues. Conducting an inquiry into missing aboriginal women would be one tangible thing that would help us accomplish this goal.

Laurie said...

I am also reading "The Comeback" great book. I did suggest to a couple of book clubs to do this book, but no interest in it. So sad, because I believe it should be addressed, our lack of interest in our Natives. If anyone wants to have a discussion about this book, count me in.

David Mundy said...

Two strong endorsements! Thank you for letting us know about The Comeback. I will start with The Inconvenient Indian on Ruth's recommendation & then find it.