'Gender inclusive' inquiry for indigenous men not for everyone
'It's a particularly awful and violent type of oppression that indigenous women experience,' says activist
A recent petition calling for a "gender inclusive" inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal people in Canada is not sitting well with everyone.
Adam Jones, an associate professor with the University of British Columbia, started the petition a few weeks ago, saying men and boys account for more than 70 per cent of total aboriginal homicide victims in Canada and should not be ignored in a national inquiry.
Canada's minister of Indigenous Affairs, Carolyn Bennett, has previously said she hasn't ruled out the possibility of including men and boys in the national inquiry.
But a social activist in Yellowknife disagrees with that idea, saying indigenous women experience a different kind of oppression than men.
"It's a particularly awful and violent type of oppression that indigenous women experience," says Daniel T'seleie.
"I think we need to address this as a situation that is unique to indigenous women," he says. "If we universalize this to indigenous men as well, what we're going to get is something that focuses more on the experiences of men and then tries to apply that to indigenous women."
T'seleie doesn't know if a separate inquiry for men is necessary, but says "definitely we need to do something about it."
He says the root causes of male violence are better understood, pointing to colonialism and intergenerational trauma from residential schools.
"We need to implement different initiatives and solutions in the form of treatment programs and overall healing for people who experience violence... and engage in violence."
Jones calls it "interesting" that people are even questioning including men and boys in a national inquiry.
"If we have a non-discriminatory approach and are genuinely concerned with helping all victims of homicide and other forms of violence in the aboriginal community, then we should include the men and boys."
Jones admits that he takes a "lone wolf" approach to his advocacy, saying he didn't consult with any indigenous groups when starting the petition, but did share it with aboriginal friends and asked for feedback. He says it would be a shame if this continued to be just the initiative of a white professor, saying he hopes more aboriginal men will speak out.
"We tend to assume that males are the naturalized victims of violence and we really only pay attention or have our empathy aroused if it's victims from a traditionally vulnerable group, such as women or children," he says.
Jones says his petition isn't meant to draw attention away from missing and murdered indigenous women and girls, but simply to approach the inquiry equally.
So far, the petition, posted on change.org, has about 115 supporters.