APTN National News
The national inquiry that is preparing to delve into the tragedy of the disproportionate number of missing and murdered Indigenous women (MMIW) is opening the door to including testimony on violence against Indigenous men and boys during the hearings.
A spokesperson for the inquiry said abuse and violence faced by Indigenous men and boys contributes to the violence faced by Indigenous women and girls.
No hearings are scheduled as of yet, but in a statement to APTN’s In Focus, inquiry spokesperson Michael Hutchinson said the commissioners will take testimony about men and boys seriously.
“There is no doubt that families of missing and murdered Indigenous men and boys are a potentially important source of information as the National Inquiry proceeds with its hearings and other information gathering processes,” said Hutchinson. “The National Inquiry is examining ways in which the testimonies and stories of men and boys might be collected in safe, respectful, and efficient ways, insofar as this potential information may be relevant to its overall mandate of examining systemic causes of violence, including sexual violence, against Indigenous women and girls.”
The debate around whether to include the experience of men and boys in the overall scope of the MMIW national inquiry has been raging.
Ernie Crey, Chief of the Cheam First Nation in British Columbia, also heads up a group called Expand the Inquiry Coalition.
“I’ve been at this now for nearly 20 years … where do they fit in?” Crey told In Focus Wednesday. “Can this inquiry focus any attention on them? My understanding is that it can and very likely will. What is happening to men and boys can be examined without taking away focus away from missing and murdered Indigenous women and it won’t undermine the inquiry in any way.”
The argument is that Indigenous men are facing a darker experience in terms of violence.
An RCMP report issued in 2014 revealed that more than a thousand Indigenous women have gone missing or have been murdered since the 1980’s, a number far higher than what was expected.
No such study has been compiled by a police force in Canada for Indigenous men, but reported statistics show that 71 percent of Indigenous deaths in Canada during the same time period are of men.
“The commissioners could order a report, or entertain families who have had a boy or man who have gone missing,” said Crey. “If these families can come forward, the commissioners can listen to them. It will complete the picture and in the end whatever recommendations the commissioners come up with will be well rounded.”