RCMP highlight 10 cases of missing aboriginal women on social media
Facebook, Twitter campaign coincides with visit by UN fact-finder
The RCMP are calling on the public to help them solve 10 outstanding cases of missing aboriginal women in Canada through a weeklong social media campaign that started on Monday.
The Mounties have been using their Twitter and Facebook accounts to highlight two specific cases of missing aboriginal women per day from across the country. Each post calls on the public to help them find women whose cases are featured on the Canada's Missing website.
In an interview with CBC News, Supt. Tyler Bates, the director of national aboriginal policing and crime prevention services, said "the 10 cases were selected primarily based on geography, to feature cases from all parts of Canada."
Bates said the initiative is an opportunity "to try and get some of the faces of women that have left and not come back, and really get those into the social consciousness of Canadians."
The RCMP's weeklong social media campaign coincides with the visit to Canada by James Anaya, the UN special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples.
When asked by CBC News whether the social media campaign was timed around Anaya's visit, Bates said "it wasn't a consideration. It's certainly coincidental, I would say."
Anaya is now on his fourth day of a nine-day visit to take stock of the progress that has been made since 2003 when his predecessor last visited Canada. His itinerary includes meetings with government and indigenous representatives.
"The RCMP is one of the agencies that is visited by the special rapporteur," Bates said.
The campaign, according to Bates, was launched on Monday to build on last Friday's Sisters in Spirit rallies that took place in over 200 locations across the country. The vigil has become a yearly event organized by the Native Women’s Association of Canada for the past eight years on Oct. 4.
The NWAC told CBC News it is supportive of the campaign, which could generate tips to help the police solve these cases.
Two of the eight women highlighted to date by the RCMP's social media campaign include the cases of Maisy Odjick and Shannon Alexander, two teenage friends who went missing from Maniwaki, Que., on Sept. 6, 2008.
The Canada's Missing website says Maisy spent the night at Shannon’s house and that Shannon’s father was the last person to have seen his daughter.
Laurie Odjick, Maisy's mother, attended the Sisters in Spirit rally on the steps of Parliament Hill last Friday. She was seen holding a picture of Maisy, who disappeared at the age of 16.
Both Maisy and Shannon were remembered during the Sisters in Spirit rally on Parliament Hill.
Each case on the Canada’s Missing website includes information about the missing person and the circumstances around their disappearance. Canadians can print off a poster to display in a public place.
This is the second time the Mounties have used social media to help them solve open cases. In May, the RCMP posted five profiles of missing children to coincide with National Missing Children's Day.
"We expect there will be other opportunities to post other profiles and utilize social media in a similar manner down the road," Bates said.
Conservative MP Ryan Leef, on Tuesday, pledged his support for a national public inquiry into the case of missing and murdered aboriginal women.