Canada’s Juarez: Femicide North of the Border
El Tecolote, News Report, R.M. Arrieta Posted: Jun 11, 2007
Editor’s note: In 2004, Amnesty International reported that approximately 500 First Nation women are missing. The surge of missing and murdered indigenous women in Canada has prompted many questions, but very little accountability. Mothers continue to speak out and pray for the murdered and disappeared.
PALO ALTO, Calif. -- Gwenda Yuzicappi stands before an audience in a conference room at Stanford University in Palo Alto, Calif. She prays for her missing daughter, Amber Redman, who at 19 vanished from Fort Qu’Appelle, Canada on July 15, 2005.
For her and a panel of mothers of missing women from Canada, Guatemala and Mexico, who were at the university May 16-19 as part of “Feminicide = Sanctioned Murder: Race, Gender and Violence in Global Context,” a conference on murdered and missing women, one thing was clear: they would not be silenced.
For Yuzicappi, from the Standing Buffalo First Nation in Saskatchewan, Canada, it is as if it happened yesterday.
“I saw a young woman who resembled her and I thanked her for allowing me to hold her. She was reading all the names of the missing women last night at the vigil,” Yuzicappi tells the audience, tears weaving throughout her words and thickening her voice. This is perhaps the most important thing she has: her voice.
Public awareness of the plight of the women of Juarez, Mexico has been heightened in films, books and personal testimony. But thousands of miles away, on the other side of the U.S. border, First Nation women have also been disappearing or found murdered.
In 2004, Amnesty International released a report outlining the discrimination and violence against indigenous women in Canada.
It is estimated that there are approximately 500 First Nation women missing in Canada, mostly from the Western Provinces, over the past 15 years or so. But according to Amnesty International’s “Stolen Sisters” report, “Given the significant gaps in available information, it is not possible to comment on the accuracy of this estimate….” No matter what the exact toll of murdered and missing women has been, Canadian authorities have not adequately addressed their fate.
“Before Amber went missing, I didn’t know about the large number of First Nation women in Canada who have been missing,” said Yuzicappi.
In Guatemala, Amnesty International reported that more than 2,000 women have been murdered.
“There is a link between the civil war and violence against women,” said Norma Cruz, who has become an activist for women’s human rights and whose daughter was a victim of sexual violence in Guatemala. “Some are no longer here to tell their story. But for those who live, we will not give up. In the terror of war we have emerged stronger. But, it’s not easy to hear the sisters from other countries confirm that there are no borders in the violence against women.”
In Juarez, Mexico, it is reported that about 400 women have been murdered over the last 14 years and more than 1,000 have been reported disappeared.
“We should all be united and pressure the government. They follow me. They threaten me but I will keep talking,” said Eva Arce, whose daughter Silvia Arce disappeared from Juarez on Mar. 11, 1998. “They disappeared my daughter, menaced another.”
Eva Arce also said they killed her grandson once he started asking questions about his mother’s death.
What ties together these tales of the missing and murdered is impunity--law enforcement seems to shrug off the murders.
“The perpetrators, where known, include both intimate acquaintances and strangers,” according to the “Stolen Sisters” report. “In some cases, the crimes remain unsolved. In every instance, Canadian authorities could and should have done more to ensure the safety of these women and girls, or to address the social and economic factors that had helped put them in harm’s way.”
Participants of the conference drafted a letter demanding that political leaders start pushing for thorough investigations.
For Yuzicappi, speaking out keeps the memory of her daughter alive.
“I named her Red Star Woman when she was 10. At night, I look for the reddest star I can see, and I pray, and I pray, and I pray to that star.”
The Feminine Side of Immigration
On the Border, the Dead, Detained, and Disappeared
TV show on Ciudad Juarez Murders Infuriates Victims’ Families
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