Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women: Book review
What it is: A book
Length: 189 pages
Author: Katherine McCarthy
Cost: $12.83 CAN or $9.86 US
Rating: 5 stars ++
Invisible Victims: Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women: Such an excellent book
Where to start…. I have not written on this website in a few weeks. Not because I am out of ideas. But rather because I was not passionate about any of them . Until now. I saw this book by coincidence on Amazon and ordered it right away. I started reading it less than a week ago and every spare moment I have had this week was spent reading this book. If you are familiar with this site, you might know that I am more than passionate about our missing and murdered Indigenous women (MMIW). I will refer you to a few past articles of mine on the topic (see here, here and here). Read them in that order to get a good idea of this issue and where my passion comes from.
For those who do not know, I live in BC, Canada and I work in an area called the “Downtown Eastside” (DTES) otherwise known as the “Skidrow” of Canada. A place that most fear, most avoid and where people can just be forgotten by the rest of the society. A place where a very high number of Indigenous women go missing each year, each month, each day. Many are sex trade workers. Coincidence? No. As they are seen as people who will not be missed or reported missing. Easy targets. Just writing that down makes my blood boil.
Why? Because I work with those women. Because I see them every day. I ask them how they are doing, I give them a safe place to go, even if it is just to take a nap. I also know many individuals whose friend or sister, mother, aunt, daughter went missing in this big “wave” of MMIW. In Canada, in BC in particular, the issue of MMIW is huge. But it is only starting to get recognition with the beginning of the inquiry into the MMIW that was launched based on the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Committee (TRC, read about the purpose of the committee and its recommendations here).
I want to say that for those who are not very familiar with the MMIW or any issues faced by the Native population (including the huge history of trauma and genocide), this book is the perfect start. For those like me, who dedicate all their spare time on the topic (I am barely exaggerating), it is still such a good book to have. Part of a series “Crimes of Canada”, it presents a succinct account of the tremendously long and painful history of injustice against the Native people, including but not limited to residential schools (learn about them here), the Sixties Scoop, forced sterilization and the ongoing violence against our Indigenous women.
The issue of MMIW as addressed in the book: the women
After a discussion of the history of trauma, the author focuses on the “problem” or “issue” of MMIW (I honestly do not think either of those terms are good ones to use but I am not sure what else to use other than an “epidemic”). The author explains how the numbers in regard to the MMIW are often skewed for various reasons. For example, many women are not reported missing, their deaths have been deemed as accidental or a suicide or are not even being tallied in 2 provinces. Further, there also seems to be a desire to skew those numbers toward family violence (stating that violence against our Indigenous women is committed by a family member, who is also Indigenous). How convenient is that. Because then as a society, we are exempt from looking at our role in the problem. “Oh well, it’s a Native problem, a NDN problem, they are killing each other”.
But no actually. Most murdered Indigenous women, whose murder was solved, were killed by a white man….Well look at that…And the author backs her facts and stats with data and sources that are hard to beat. The exact number of MMIW in Canada is unknown (due to the numbers being skewed). But it is estimated to be between 1200 (conservatively) and 4000 (number presented by grassroots organizations). I personally think it is closer to 4000 than 1200. And out of that number, numerous murders and disappearances remain unsolved. And as the author explains so well, many men accused of those murders, rapes, kidnapping, were somehow acquitted of the crimes, notwithstanding much evidence against them. And that makes me soooooo mad! The author, however, manages to discuss in a very sensitive and caring way the story of some of those women, making them more “human” for the population.
After discussing a few individual cases of MMIW in Canada and how they were handled, the author focuses on the killers. Most of the ones discussed committed their crimes in Western Canada, particularly in BC. One of them, I have actually met in a professional context, before I knew who he was! I cannot elaborate on this matter but please read my About me page to see where I probably met him. Probably the most famous serial killer of our MMIW has to be Robert Pickton, also known as the “pig farmer”. This man right here:
Just looking at him, I want to punch him. A sorry excuse for a human being. And that’s me being very very polite. He is currently incarcerated in the maximum security prison in BC for 6 counts of second degree murder. That’s right, not first degree murder, second degree murder! A man who admitted to an undercover police officer to killing 49 women and feeling pissed that he could not make it an even 50! Wow, what a great justice system we have. Even though that man will spend the rest of his life in prison, many families will not get the closure they so wish for. Because he was never convicted of those 49 murders (the confession was deemed inadmissible in court). But below are some of his victims, because they should be remembered. And although the VPD would like to think they did a good job, check this out. As the author relates, several years before Pickton was arrested, the VPD received a tip that Pickton’s freezer contained human remains. The VPD followed up on the tip and went to see Pickton at his farm, who agreed to let them in. But for some reason, the two officers who attended then decided not to investigate further and left. Like holy shit! How many lives could have been saved!
If I have not made it clear, go buy this book now. Like now. It is one of the best I have ever read (and very well priced). An emotional read but so well written that it is easily understandable, even by those who have limited knowledge on the topic of MMIW (if that’s you, please click on the links I have included throughout this article to learn more). The language used is easy to follow and makes it seem as though the author is right there with you having a conversation. A painful conversation but a much needed one. More attention needs to be brought on the MMIW because they deserve it! Their life was worth it. Their families deserve closure and justice. Let’s start now. #MMIW
Buy the book by clicking on the image below or by clicking here.
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