Violence Against Indigenous Women in Canada: A Colonial Legacy or Tragedy?
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In 2015 the Canadian government launched its National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIW) (2015), identifying that it was one of the most urgently important issues facing Canadian society. This inquiry marks a pivotal moment in Canadian history where either a true reckoning may begin with regards to the imbedded colonial legacy of violence against Indigenous women in Canada or the status quo upheld. This paper will use Sherene Razack’s research on violence against women (2016) and the concepts of gendered disposability and Indigenous dysfunction to explore this topic. It will examine the murder of dozens of women in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, and the lack of attention given to their plight by the police, as an example of gendered disposability. As Amber Dean (2015) argues, the Downtown Eastside provides a clear example of how disposability and dysfunction work to sanction the physical violence many Indigenous women experience. Ultimately, the three goals portrayed as solutions to the problem of colonial violence are simple. Primarily, to identify measures that will eliminate violence against Indigenous women and girls, to provide justice, and lastly to incorporate practices that address the systemic violence these women face. However, achieving them is the part that remains complex. Can Canada learn about its colonial history and still be doomed to repeat past injustices?
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