Shawn Brant Mohawk Spokesman

Shawn BrantMohawk Nation News

Canada Refuses to Investigate Thousands of Murdered Women

Download audio file 14 May, 01:00

For over a decade hundreds of innocent young girls and women have been disappearing in Canada. School girls under 11, teenagers and young ladies have all disappeared or have been found beaten, raped or dead in dumpsters, ditches, by the side of the road and in landfills.

While the Canadian Government sends assistance to Nigeria, to make political points pretending to assist in finding over 200 hundred girls it cares nothing about, it continues to ignore and refuses to investigate the over 1,425 cases of missing girls and murdered young ladies in Canada. Why has Canada ignored these crimes? Because the murdered girls are Native Americans. We spoke to Shawn Brant, a Mohawk Nation and Wolf Clan representative about this issue and more.

This is John Robles. You are listening to an interview with Shawn Brant. He is a member of the Mohawk Nation and the Wolf Clan representative, a Mohawk Indian activist and a spokesperson for the Warrior Society of Tyendinaga.

Robles: Hello, Sir. How are you this evening?

Brant: I’m very well, thank you for having me.

Robles: It’s a pleasure to be speaking with you. I’d like to find out some details, if you could, on a very serious issue that has been taking place for a long time and not getting any coverage at all almost in the major media. I’m talking about disappearance of what could be thousands of Native American girls, women and schoolgirls.

Brant: Sure! Certainly the issue is one that affects women and girls in Canada. It involves recently, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Canada here confirmed that some 1,200 aboriginal women have been murdered since 1980s. Another 225 have been identified as missing and presumed murdered. And that is women and girls across the country.

It’s a crisis that has been ongoing, the crisis the Government has been aware of and one that has been ever escalating.

Certainly, in the past 20 years the number of women that have gone missing is catastrophic and it’s a crisis and one that women and girls had been begging the government in Canada to look into and find… to investigate, to have police investigate, to have various governments take some responsibility and oversight in making a determination about what is happening within our communities and within urban centers here in Canada.

The average age of the women that are going missing is about 20 years old. About 10% of that 1,200 murdered women are under the age of 11.

They have been raped, abducted, tortured, murdered. They’ve been cast in garbage bins, they’ve been tossed out of vehicles in ditches from one end of this country to the other and the Government has refused at every turn to investigate. They’ve refused to, in any meaningful way, take any responsibility.

And whenever the issue is raised before the public, they attempt to convince the rest of society here in Canada that these are women that are involved in the sex trade and demean and diminish their integrity. And that is simply not the case.

We’ve recently been taking a more militant stand against the government. There have been closures of roads, there have been closures of rail lines, there’ve been attacks against the Canadian economy. All in an effort to have the government take a serious look at this issue and provide some answers.

Robles: I understand you were involved in shutting down the Canadian railroad. Can you talk about that?

Brant: Absolutely! We put it to government and there has been a general call in this country, both in the Native Community and in the non-Native Community that there needs to be a national oversight and national strategy and inquiry to provide some answers into this phenomena: murder and disappearance of these women and girls.

And so, the government has maintained the position that it’s simply doing whatever it can and nothing more can be done, and that has been unacceptable.

So, here, in our community, we are situated between Toronto and Montreal, which is the CN mainline. And more goods pass through this one area than any other place in the world by train, highway and through the seaway.

And systematically what we’ve been doing is targeting that trade route and we’ve been shutting down the mainline, which impacts the Canadian economy about $160 million dollars a day.

We’ve taken a position that if the Government is unwilling to step up and meet the very-very basic, decent social demands that are being made by our people for intervention and investigation into this crisis, that we’re prepared to target the economy of Canada and bring it to its knees, if necessary, in order to have justice to be brought to our women and girls and we’ve been doing that.

We’ve been doing that on a regular basis and while may not reach out beyond this country or out into the mainstream media, we are confident that we are having a significant impact on the Canadian economy and are prepared to continue in that.

Robles: I don’t want to get off the topic, because this is a serious topic and it is one we need to focus on, and it is one that, as you just said, is not getting coverage, when it absolutely should be and must be. If we can get back to the girls now, in your opinion, who is responsible for this? Is this an organized group in the government? Is this a continuation of genocide? Who is behind this?

Brant: This is the continuation of the same old adage of colonialistic apartheid policies and laws that Canada is engaged in against the indigenous people here.

Canada is a colonial country, it has no legitimacy or basis. And part of Canada’s policy is: in order to maintain the exploitation of resources and the theft of resources of our land, they maintain a state of sadness and despair in our communities and by doing that they think that they are able to keep us in such a state of sadness, that we are unable to mobilize against the state and large corporations that are engaged in the theft of our resources. And so, Canada’s policies of not investigating, of not caring, they simply allow for a perpetuation of despair that allows for the theft to continue.

But certainly, recently, in last November, an organization: the International Human Rights Watch, documented some 50 different instances in which the Royal Canadian Mounted Police themselves, Canada’s “police force” was engaged in the abduction, sexual assault, torture, kidnapping of First Nations’ women.

17 of their officers were identified as having engaged in this type of behavior, where they themselves, the police would abduct women and girls, engage in sexual assaults and then threaten to either have them disappear or threaten to have their family disappear if they ever spoke.

So, this was well documented by an accredited international human rights agency in a report that was tabled before our parliament in February of this year. And the government simply looked at it and said: “Well, if there are complaints to be made, then these women should come forward and complain against these specific police officers involved.”

But what people don’t understand is that the police officers that are perpetrating these crimes are officers that live in the communities and are involved in policing of those same communities where the women live. So, it is a situation where women would have to come forward and make complaints to the perpetrators themselves, and that is simply not possible.

So, when you asked me about who is involved, directly involved in the acts themselves include: military personnel, it includes Canada’s police forces and by extension the government itself is aware of who is committing the crimes.

And that is simply why they don’t want to take any type action or any type of government oversight, because it would expose not just the hypocrisy of government, but it would expose the complicity of Government in what is happening against the indigenous people and they are just not prepared to go there.

We know what is happening, we know who is committing these crimes, we simply don’t have any body of people that we can approach that would take any meaningful steps to change or correct the situation of the crisis that we are involved in now.

Reminder

Robles: We are hopefully exposing it now and hopefully, maybe, this will have some effect on getting some justice done I hope. Well, that’s my hope.

Brant: We are not naïve people and, as we’ve discussed earlier, when we hear leaders in the world that express concern and genuine regard for their people wherever they live, and offer and afford protections for their people, as Russia has done in Ukraine and other regions, that really appeals to us.

We’ve been reaching out, we don’t have a government that affords protection to its people. And that is a burden that we bear, we don’t have the protection of government, like Russian citizens do.

Robles: Do you have an opinion on what is going on in Ukraine?

Brant: I absolutely do! When the protection of citizens becomes fundamental, when it is an absolute fundamental right for a nation to protect its citizens, and that’s being demonstrated around the world (whether it is to the Israeli government, whether it is to the government of the US, whether it is through the Russian Government), there is a fundamental notion of sovereignty and integrity, and justice that the government must protect its citizens and must cross borders and regions, and must protect them where they live from any type of oppression, any type of act of aggression that is taken.

We sympathize with the people of Russia and the Russian speaking population within Ukraine. And it is fundamentally just for a country to be able to intervene and protect its people wherever they live. And we absolutely support that.

Robles: Russia so far has not really intervened. I mean, if you are talking about militarily. But that would be a good thing for the junta government in Ukraine to hear right now: that a government should protect its people. Here they are waging a war against their own people. They are killing and slaughtering their own people. If that is not a sickness, I don’t know what is, anyway…

Now how long has this been going on with the girls missing?

Brant: It was first identified in 1994. And at that time there was 24 women that government acknowledged as having been murdered. And activists at that time had said that the number was closer to about 80 and that was in 1994.

Since that time the number now is: as government released a report on Friday of last week which identified 1,200 murdered First Nations’ women, and the activist community, we believe that the number is closer to about 3,100-3,150. So those numbers that have increased from that time, have increased in a very short length of time, in approximately 20 years.

And so, it isn’t as though there has been some sort of intervention that has allowed for that to scale back. Those numbers have been increasing exponentially each and every year. And the range of the attacks has increased. They are targeting our girls now as young as 6 and 7 and 8 years old.

They are being picked up walking along the streets, they are being picked up on their way to school. As I said, they are being raped, they are being tortured, they are being murdered. It is something that we are living with, something that is almost unbelievable to imagine.

Robles: That is unbelievable to imagine! It is unbelievable! 3,150 people, human beings! Were these anyone else?

Brant: That number, when you put it into the context with the rest of Canada’s population, that represents about 70,000 non-native women that would have to be murdered to equal the number of First Nations’ women when we give the population.

And we are looking at this not necessarily now in a context of simply unsolved homicides, we are looking at this as being an untold story of genocide. Certainly, within the aboriginal communities here in Canada we are looking at this as being a legitimate genocide.

People say that they are targeting our women so that they don’t have children, that they don’t contribute to the population of indigenous people. And when you look at that number and see that impact that it is having not just on the immediate lives of those who are lost, but by extension on the number of children and the families that would have been generated, it certainly can be unmistakably viewed as being a direct genocide, a direct attack against our very existence.

And when we shut down a train line or shut down a highway, or we talk about targeting Canada’s economy, we are not talking about it simply as being for an issue of justice, we are talking about it as being a right of our people to stand up for our very existence and the survival of our people. That’s what we are talking about is our right to exist.

And the Government is doing everything within its power to see that we don’t continue on as a society of people, that we become extinguished.

And so, we go out and we fight these battles and we fight these battles on the street, and we fight these battles on the infrastructure of this country. But we are fighting this as a means of survival and continuation of our people.

Robles: I see. A Government based on genocide and it hasn’t changed.

Brant: It hasn’t changed at all.

Robles: It hasn’t changed at all!Yes, the numbers are unbelievable. I mean, if it was even 10 white Canadian women that were found in dumpsters, can you imagine the outcry, the huge investigations that would be going on?

Brant: Yes. And we have women that have been dumped in landfill sites, in garbage dumps here and police forces know the whereabouts of their bodies, but they say that the cost of $17,000 for one girl Tanya Nepinak , the cost to remove her body from that landfill they say was too much money to be spent, that it wasn’t justified…

Robles: They talk about the cost?!?!?!

Brant: … to remove her from a garbage landfill outside the city of Winnipeg. And those are the types of indignities that they put upon us, the value of her life…. So she sits today under a pile of garbage outside the city of Winnipeg and the government says that the cost of removing her body wasn’t worth it. And that’s the response we get. That’s how government treats our people.

That’s how they respond, even when they know the whereabouts of the body, they won’t provide us with the dignity and the dignity of the family to recover that body and have her put to rest in a proper way.

You were listening to an interview with Shawn Brant of the Mohawk Nation and the Wolf Clan in Canada. He is a Mohawk Indian activist and a spokesperson for the Warrior Society of Tyendinaga.

You can find out more on indigenous issues at Mohawk Nation News

 

Last Update: 07/16/2017 18:40 +0300

 

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