Developing Safety Strategies for Aboriginal Women on Highways

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.

The Singer is the Song…The Silence is Over

The Singer is the Song…The Silence is Over

Troy Westwood, storied singer-songwriter, Little Hawk, has a message for men: staying silent about violence against women makes you a part of the problem. He tells them: take action now. Take responsibility to end violence against our mothers, our sisters, our daughters and every woman we do not know, she who is still a part of us.

And Troy is not standing alone with his message. Read this edition of Women Making Waves, which, for the first time in its 25-year history, opens its pages to the voices of men who are working – not pledging – but working to end violence against women.

Byron Hurt, an award-winning documentary filmmaker, writer and an anti-sexist activist, writes about the first time he spoke out against men’s violence against women. His work continues. Dennis Danforth Jr, a member of the Oneida First Nation, describes how he teaches children to honour and respect women and, through his work with Masc Magazine, encourages men to accept that they bear the largest responsibility to end violence against women. Sebastian Roberts’ life was transformed through a personal tragedy leading him to work in Africa where he came to understand that “Sexism is an invisible plague that is taking the lives of women around the world.” He intends to return to Africa to do his part to end, “this chauvinistic madness.”

Over the past two years, Battered Women’s Support Services has worked within communities of men to welcome them into the movement to end violence against women. In this issue of Women Making Waves, we report on the power of men’s commitment to anti-violence work.