WEATHER ALERT

Many possible solutions but only one principle: caring

Advertisement

Advertise with us

I did some investigative research, and uncovered that of the 36 homicides reported by Winnipeg police in 2022 (as of Sept. 2), at least 23 involved an Indigenous victim.

Read this article for free:

or

Already have an account? Log in here »

To continue reading, please subscribe with this special offer:

All-Access Digital Subscription

$4.75 per week*

  • Enjoy unlimited reading on winnipegfreepress.com
  • Read the E-Edition, our digital replica newspaper
  • Access News Break, our award-winning app
  • Play interactive puzzles
Continue

*Pay $19.00 every four weeks. GST will be added to each payment. Subscription can be cancelled anytime.

Opinion

I did some investigative research, and uncovered that of the 36 homicides reported by Winnipeg police in 2022 (as of Sept. 2), at least 23 involved an Indigenous victim.

I say “at least” because the history of such victims aren’t always easy to find.

If this pace continues, Winnipeg would experience 54 homicides, with about three dozen of those killed being Indigenous, by the end of the year.

That first number would match the annual record-high for homicides in the city, set in 2020. That year, 40 of the victims were Indigenous.

Outside of Winnipeg, the situation appears similarly bad.

According to RCMP statistics (sometimes lacking details), of the 23 homicides outside of Winnipeg thus far in 2022, six took place on First Nations and nine in communities where Indigenous people constitute a significant portion of the population (such as Thompson, Powerview, South Indian Lake and Moose Lake).

It’s clear Indigenous people are more likely to be killed than any other ethnic group in Manitoba. Statistics Canada reported in 2020 Indigenous people experienced a homicide rate of 15.32 per 100,000 people, compared with 1.26 per 100,000 for non-Indigenous citizens.

The situation is exponentially worse in Winnipeg, however.

In a 2019 study, APTN documented that of the 119 homicides reported in Winnipeg between 2014-18, 47.1 percent of the victims were Indigenous.

Those numbers have shown an upward and steady trend in general Winnipeg homicides.

Unsurprisingly, a significant number in Manitoba are Indigenous women.

Since 2019, 11 Indigenous women have been killed, with three over just three weeks in May 2022.

At that time, advocates for murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls called the situation “a crisis.” It’s a crisis that isn’t stopping.

On Aug. 22, Danielle Dawn Ballantyne was killed in a Winnipeg apartment building.

The body of 20-year-old Mackaylah Gerard-Roussin was found Aug. 27 on a ATV trail near Woodridge.

While every homicide is different, the slaying of Indigenous people can almost always be drawn back to a history found in racism and policy that created unsafe and imposed situations where violence is a part of everyday life.

It’s worth noting in more than two dozen of the recent homicides in Winnipeg, an Indigenous person was charged with the offence.

Violence is not just something Indigenous people experience but a very significant and real presence in Indigenous communities.

The question is when will Manitobans — all Manitobans — care enough to do anything?

Indigenous people do not choose to live in violence and no one anywhere wants to die — no matter what any pundit or politician has to say.

Yet, although homicides involving Indigenous people continue to rise in Manitoba, solutions are hard to come by.

There’s tons of evidence to show solutions are not found in more police or jails. Over-policing results in over-incarceration, violence and new legacies of trauma.

There is an equal amount of evidence to show solutions are not found with more child welfare systems that target Indigenous families and children.

The solution is absolutely not found by removing resources, money and bulldozing tent encampments in high-poverty areas like the inner city.

If the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us anything, when you close public bathrooms, remove windows from bus shelters, and treat the poor like they don’t matter, there is a radical increase in addictions, assaults and, yes, homicides.

Solutions are found in building communities, supporting families and providing opportunities to live a full, healthy life. That’s how you solve a homicide crisis.

Luckily, there are many reports that suggest solutions that have barely been tried.

There are 94 calls to action by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, 231 calls for justice by the National Inquiry into Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls and hundreds more in the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples.

The solutions found in these studies though all consist of one central principle: caring.

In 2014, and my activist days, I was one of the organizers for the vigil honouring Tina Fontaine. It was more than eight years ago when the 15-year-old’s body was found in the Red River — a homicide that has yet to result in a conviction.

That night more than 1,000 Winnipeggers came out to honour Tina’s life.

It was a tragedy that sparked a lot of love and a brief interest in change. Without the public pressure that came from Tina’s death, Canada likely wouldn’t have had its national inquiry.

This time, however, not much investigation is needed into why so many Indigenous people are being killed in Manitoba.

Much of that work is done and the solutions are available. Now what’s needed is for people to care.

niigaan.sinclair@freepress.mb.ca

Niigaan Sinclair

Niigaan Sinclair
Columnist

Niigaan Sinclair is Anishinaabe and is a columnist at the Winnipeg Free Press.

Report Error Submit a Tip

Advertisement

Advertise With Us

Local

LOAD MORE