Gladue All Over

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An Inuit family, in better days. CBC news claims today to have an advance copy of the immanent final report of the national inquiry into murdered and missing indigenous (First Nations) women. I wonder if it is legitimate. Based on the quotes in the article, it sounds like a […]


An Inuit family, in better days.

CBC news claims today to have an advance copy of the immanent final report of the national inquiry into murdered and missing indigenous (First Nations) women.

I wonder if it is legitimate. Based on the quotes in the article, it sounds like a parody.

Beginning with the quote in the article’s headline: “National inquiry calls murders and disappearances of Indigenous women a 'Canadian genocide.’”

“We do know that thousands of Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA (two-spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex and asexual) have been lost to the Canadian genocide to date.”

Did you miss it?

“The national inquiry's findings support characterizing these acts, including violence against Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people, as genocide.”

According to the RCMP statistics, 70% of murdered indigenous women were killed by members of their indigenous community; often members of their own family. The inquiry has apparently declared these official figures “unreliable ... (It) should not be considered as an accurate or complete statement of the perpetrators of violence against Indigenous women and girls.” But they seem to be the best we have, politically inconvenient as they may be. Is there any evidence that the Canadian government or any other outside group is secretly trying to exterminate the Indians? If so, it is not mentioned in the CBC summary of the report.

One might also quibble that the deaths of 2,000 women sets a low bar for genocide, but let’s not. One person murdered is too many. Yet to call this genocide is like calling a suicide a murder. It is a level of hyperbole that really looks like parody.

One really should not joke about such things. What could be more objectively evil than trivializing genocide?

And then there is that here-repeated and still-expanding term “2SLGBTQQIA.” As if the report wants to draw attention to it, irrelevant as it is to its own mandate. For fun, try to pronounce it. Surely that too sounds like parody? The length and lack of vowels has to be humorous.

The CBC article ends, helpfully, with this slug, in bold type:

“For immediate emotional assistance, call 1-844-413-6649. This is a national, toll-free 24/7 crisis call line providing support for anyone who requires emotional assistance related to missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. You can also access long-term health support services such as mental health counselling and community-based cultural services through Indigenous Services Canada.”

Does this sound like the utterly fearless warriors who, in less politically correct days, were commonly called, and called themselves, “Braves”?

So the most probable explanation for this unauthorized version of the report seems to be parody.

But the Inquiry itself has not issued a denial.

Here, then, is a second possibility: someone leaked it to test the public reaction. This may have been done either with the consent of the inquiry, or by some renegade bureaucrat fearing for their career from being associated with it. If they hear neither outrage nor howls of laughter, out it comes as scheduled. Otherwise, release may be held up, or something different may be tabled.

From the beginning, of course, the inquiry, like the Truth and Reconciliation Commission before it, was faced with an impossible task. They were obliged by their actual mandate to find some government responsibility for the deaths of the indigenous women, and come up with things the government should do.

But the real problem is obvious, and everybody knows it: it is the failure of the Indian family. This leaves Indian adolescents, especially adolescent women, tragically vulnerable.

But that is not the sort of thing the government can easily fix.

Many fixes have been tried in the past. That was the intent of the residential schools. They were largely orphanages. But now the government is condemned for the residential schools.

That was the point of the “Sixties scoop.” Now the government is condemned for the Sixties scoop.

Faced as a result of this family breakdown with a disproportionate number of Indians in the prisons, the courts then instituted the “Gladue principle”: Indians systematically got lighter sentences for the same crimes.

Now, inevitably, the present report blames the Gladue principle for the deaths of aboriginal women. This is genocide. Those who kill aboriginal women should automatically face stiffer sentences than others.

Gentlemen and ladies, we are running in circles. We have been for perhaps two hundred years. And, of course, throwing out vast sums of money in the process.

And each government intervention makes things worse instead of better.

As the slug that ends this CBC story, perhaps inadvertently, demonstrates: what we have here is learned dependency.

Government intervention is the problem. The structure of dependency it has set up—and this emphatically includes the all-powerful band councils, which are not at all a part of traditional Indian culture—has undermined the family. It has conditioned the First Nations, originally perhaps the most individually self-reliant of all the world’s cultures, to permanent dependency, and to always expecting the government to magically appear and fix any problems. And, in turn, blaming the government and the “white man” for everything.

This is the essence of colonialism, but in its most extreme form.

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