Developing Safety Strategies for Aboriginal Women on Highways

In Canada, Aboriginal women are five times more likely than other women to die as a result of violence, and the numbers of Aboriginal women who go missing without a trace are staggering.

This is perhaps best known in Vancouver as a result of the eventual investigation into the disappearances of over 60 women from the Downtown Eastside. It is also being recognized as an issue in Northern BC on the ‘Highway of Tears’ where at least 18 women and girls have vanished. Current statistics state that there are 137 missing Aboriginal women in BC.  This problem spreads across the country, and there are reports that more than 500

Aboriginal women are missing in Canada. In response to this crisis, Amnesty International has tabled two reports – Stolen Sisters (2004) and No More Stolen Sisters (2009).

Since 1994, Battered Women’s Support Services has been working in the fight to bring public awareness to the ongoing problem of missing and murdered women. In April of this year, BWSS was given a recent report from the FBI called the Highway Serial Killings Initiative. This report exposes the clear connection between long-haul truckers and cases of missing and/or murdered women in the United States. With this information, BWSS began looking into a possible connection between the cases of missing and murdered women in Western Canada and the trucking industry.

This project will develop research that supports the creation of an inter-provincial coalition and safety model to reduce the risk of harm to Aboriginal women on western Canadian highways. While both students will work together on this project, the scope is large enough that the two research areas will be distinctly different. Following is a more detailed breakdown of the proposed work to be accomplished.

Tanisha will focus her annotated bibliography on literature that specifically addresses issues in policy and legislation relating to the investigations into disappearances and murders of women (law enforcement responses, jurisdictional problems, etc). Jamie will research structural and causative issues that lead to abductions and murders of women (MCFD (child protection), trucking industry, safety, etc).

Through this community research project we will seek to  implement strategies that work for systemic change, industry engagement and to seek justice for women and their families.