The outpouring of emotion from the family of dead Terrace teenager CJ Fowler on Wednesday as they called for justice was as understandable as it was heartbreaking. What parent would not want done all that can possibly be done to find those responsible for their child's death?
It's also understandable to hear the call from Assembly of First Nations Chief Shawn Atleo for a national inquiry examining what has happened to both CJ and hundreds of other aboriginal women who have died violently or gone missing in the past 20 years. He wants action. What leader wouldn't?
The question must be asked, however - is an inquiry likely to prevent crimes of violence against aborginal women in the future?
If we believe there are distinct common factors that link all the deaths, the answer might be yes. But considering the span and scope of the problem -more than 600 women killed or missing across 10 provinces over more than 20 years - suggesting there is a common thread becomes a difficult task.
Another sad fact - we already know many of the problems. Every time a woman - aboriginal or otherwise - dies to violence or goes missing, something has gone wrong. Our courts have shown us time and again there are many kinds of societal dysfunction that lead to death and sadness. Poverty, addiction, cultural injustice, domestic abuse, lack of education, racism and gender inequality can all be found to have been responsible for some woman's death. These are basic issues that plague humanity, that torment and frustrate our innate desire for social justice.
A national inquiry would likely only show us what we already know - people who live in dysfunctional circumstances are more susceptible to being made the victims of violence. We are already aware that a disproportionately large percentage of First Nations communities are forced to accept such social ills as part of their daily lives.
What's needed more than knowledge of the problems is the simple willingness to tackle them. No inquiry will ever give us that.
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