By: Rania M M Watts
“The link between racial discrimination and violence against Indigenous women has not yet been adequately acknowledged or addressed, and the victims of this violence are all too often forgotten.” (Amnesty International, 2004)
The reality is that when a white woman goes missing the media coverage is plastered via every single avenue – yet murdered Indigenous women in Canada are not even given a second thought.
The coverage of disappearing white women is 6 times higher than those of missing First Nations women and children (Gilchrist, 2010)
Kristen Gilchrist decided to test the theory of “Newsworthy’ Victims? Exploring differences in Canadian local press coverage of missing/murdered Aboriginal and White Women.” Gilchrist had decided to study the media coverage of 6 women: 3 of which were Indigenous and the other 3 were white. Of the 6 women all of them housed strong familial ties and no connection to drug or sex trades.
What she discovered was quite alarming. The missing First Nations women had their content placed in the “soft news” section while the missing white women did not only have a photograph but also accompanying word characteristics such as: “shy”, “kind”, “loving”, or “pretty.” Moreover, there was a picture of the white women, with endearing family messages that the missing First Nations women did not receive (Gilchrist, 2020).
I would like to have someone explain to me how that promotes equity, let alone equality. Society is saying that Indigenous women do not hold the same value as a White woman. It is not just Indigenous women who are being impacted by this very important issue. It has been amplified beyond belief, as stated here “As if COVID-19 does not highlight the pressing need for a national action plan to address the impacts of systemic racism — an offspring of colonization — that has marginalized Black, Indigenous, people of colour — particularly women and 2SLGBTQQIA people — for hundreds of years. This racism and its ensuing inequities are manifested not only in the high ratio of deaths and disappearances among Black, Indigenous, women of colour and 2SLGBTQQIA people, but in their health and wellbeing too.” (Waban, C. 2020)
How are we to grow as a society when there is still so much gender and racial bias towards the BIPOC community? Our planet is big enough for everyone to live together comfortably; to abhor a human being based on race or gender genuinely seems like an archaic concept to me.
I will always continue to fight for the rights of human beings who are vulnerable in society’s eyes. Although BIPOC women are fighting to get their voices genuinely heard, the response for action still falls on deaf ears.
Any personal opinions expressed in this blog solely belong to the author Rania Watts and not the Practitioner advertised in this website or social media.
AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL CANADA (2004) ‘Stolen sisters: a human rights response to discrimination and violence against Indigenous women in Canada’ (2004) [Online] Available at:
http://www.amnesty.ca/stolensisters/amr2000304.pdf (14 Sept. 2010)
“Newsworthy” Victims? Exploring differences in Canadian local press coverage of missing/murdered Aboriginal and White women By: Kristen Gilchrist
Centering Black, Indigenous, women of colour in a post-pandemic recovery Chrystal Waban https://www.kairoscanada.org/centering-black-indigenous-women-of-colour-in-a-post-pandemic-recovery