Canada | Opinion

Rosanna Deerchild: A terrifying reality facing indigenous women

A vigil for missing and murdered indigenous women in Canada. Photo by Max Fine Day / Twitter

Rosanna Deerchild, the host of the CBC radio program Unreserved, doesn't know what to tell her children when they ask why indigenous women are going missing and murdered throughout Canada:
As a parent, you always want to keep your children safe. You teach them to look both ways before crossing the street, you warn them about stranger danger and to always call if they need you no matter what, when or why.

But what if the colour of their skin is what puts them in danger? That is the reality for indigenous women and girls in Canada.

According to statistics we are four times more likely to experience violence. We are more likely to be the victim of exploitation and even murder. An RCMP report says 1,181 indigenous women and girls have been killed or are missing in Canada. That number just keeps climbing.

For me, as an indigenous woman, that is a scary reality. As a mother with two young girls, it is a terrifying one.

Instead of talking about shoes and cute boy bands, I have to warn them about slow moving cars and catcalls. Instead of going to Girl Scouts I take my girls to another vigil to mark another death, walk in remembrance at another march and demand another call to action.

These ceremonies of loss are felt in almost every indigenous family. And when my little girls look up at me and ask, 'But why is it like that Mommy?' Well, I simply have no answer for them.

Get the Story:
Rosanna Deerchild: Talking to my daughters about the dangers of being an indigenous woman (CBC 10/4)

Also Today:
Missing and murdered indigenous women remembered in annual march (CBC 10/4)
Saskatchewan rallies for missing and murdered indigenous women (CBC 10/4)
Winnipeg's MMIW Day of Remembrance marked by red dresses, flowers (CBC 10/4)
Missing, murdered aboriginal women honoured at Charlottetown vigil (CBC 10/2)
REDress Photography Project honours 1,181 missing and murdered women (10/2)

Royal Canadian Mounted Police Report:
Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women: A National Operational Overvie (May 2014)

Related Stories:
First Nations launch inquiry into missing and murdered women (09/10)
Manitoba agrees to pay funeral bill for murdered Native woman (04/16)
Native girl is one of six murdered from same reserve in Manitoba (04/09)
Opinion: Native women won't feel safe without action in Canada (03/02)
Mother seeks to draw more attention to missing Native men (02/05)
Police open probe after officers let missing Native teen girl go (09/25)
Group starts dragging of river in search of missing Native women (09/17)
Police in Manitoba seek information on two missing Native sisters (09/02)
Authorities in Manitoba probe murder of 15-year-old Native girl (08/18)
Native Sun News: Site documents missing and murdered women (07/30)
Editorial: Take action for missing and murdered Native women (05/23)
RCMP cites high number of missing and murdered Native women (05/19)

Join the Conversation