On Dateline this week reporter Laura Murphy-Oates visits the First Nation reserve in Canada, home to unsolved missing and murdered cases involving Indigenous women.
Canada and Australia share a dark secret: in recent decades thousands of indigenous women have been murdered or gone missing.
This Tuesday, Dateline reporter Laura Murphy-Oates visits the First Nation reserve in Canada with one of the highest number of unsolved missing and murdered Indigenous women cases. As an Indigenous Australian, she found a community that felt all too familiar.
It’s been over nine years since Bernice and Wilfred Catcheway’s daughter went missing.
“We’ve always believed that somebody knows something, we’ve always said that. Women, girls, they don’t just go missing. Somebody stole them from us”, Bernice tells Dateline.
Each year, when the snow thaws, their search for their daughter Jennifer starts again. Thousands of indigenous families like the Catcheway’s are going through the same agony.
In 2014, a landmark police report revealed that between 1980 and 2012, 1,181 Indigenous women had gone missing or been murdered in Canada, but the native indigenous women’s association of Canada claim the number is closer to 4000. The most recent reports show that indigenous women are six times more likely to be murdered in Canada than other women*.
In 2015, Prime Minister Trudeau announced a National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.
First Nations politician Nahanni Fontaine has been supporting families of missing and murdered indigenous women for years.
“It all goes back to this colonial narrative of indigenous women being less than worthy and disposable, so if you’re a serial killer or a misogynist [and] you want to kill women, who are you going to target?” Nahanni tells Dateline.
“There was such inaction in respect of files for missing and murdered indigenous women and girls that people thought that they could just kill with impunity”, she says.
Stories of police inaction in the cases of missing Indigenous women and girls are all too common.
In Australia, Indigenous women are 32 times more likely to be hospitalised due to family-violence related assaults and six times more likely to be murdered.
The Australian government has acknowledged that violence against women is a serious and widespread problem, but have been criticised for leaving Indigenous women behind in their general policies.
Dateline asks what can Australia learn from Canada’s experience?
Tuesday 21 November 9.30pm on SBS.
Tonight on The Feed Laura Murphy-Oates also attends a community circle near Grafton, where Aboriginal women have gone missing or been killed.