I think it goes without saying that I am a woman. I am also a woman of First Nations descent (which can be a little less obvious than the former).
I have also been subjected to different forms of domestic abuse in my past, and am lucky to still be here to tell you about it.
The reality is far from lost on me, that I live within an elevated risk level to one day become one of those missing and or murdered aboriginal women that we have been hearing about so much lately.
The RCMP held a press conference on May 16, in which they released an alarming report involving the actual estimated numbers of just how many documentable missing and murdered aboriginal women there have been in Canada, in the past 30 years.
The report not only detailed the gross difference in prior estimates, it also revealed an apparent sense of national urgency the RCMP claims to be limited to act upon.
From prior media reports, we tend to hear lots about generalized statistics involving missing and murdered aboriginal women in Canada, along with reports of awareness-related events to the cause.
All of these sanitized numbers tend to lose in translation the actual human element behind each and every incident of loss, which continues to affect aboriginal women as a collective whole.
If I were to go missing today, how would my disappearance or death be publicly reported?
Would the details of my absence be buried behind pages of scandalized mayors in other cities, celebrity infidelities, hockey scores or visiting pandas?
Would my friends and family be comforted, knowing that their community was dedicated and doing everything in their power to help locate me?
Would my female cousins watch my situation play out with a sense of dread and futile resignation — feeling almost as though they are next? Many of my cousins have multiple missing or murdered women in their immediate and extended families, and so they live in a realm of desensitization.
According to Statistics Canada, in 2011 there were more than 600 First Nations/Indian bands in Canada. With a total of 1,181 either missing or murdered women, this number equates to almost two women per band.
If I were to go missing, would my sons spend the rest of their lives in a cloud of wonder at where their mother is and what happened to her?
If I were to go missing, would society drudge up every negative detail in my past or make assumptions about my lifestyle to justify a blind sense of apathy?
The report which the RCMP released to the public should not be buried in the minds of our nation. These women’s stories and lives should be emblazoned in our hearts and conscience. The loss of a family or community member is an immeasurable tragedy for any race, and our aboriginal women are not any different.
If a non-native girl were to go missing at the same time I did, would she even be wondering any of these questions at all?