Posts Tagged ‘First Nations women’

In class this week we watched the documentary film entitled Finding Dawn. I have actually had the privilege of watching this film twice prior to this viewing in class, but watching it the third time did not change how powerful the film was for me. Finding Dawn is an important film which sheds light on the issue of the missing First Nations women in British Columbia. What this film raises on a deeper level however, are the major social prejudices and the systemic racism that exists in Canadian society. Although I have not done any extensive research on the missing First Nations women in BC, I have looked at the history of the Canadian legal system and its interactions with and regulating of First Nations women. When I watched Finding Dawn, and reflected on my previous readings of the Canadian justice system, there are clear parallels that exist: the Canadian legal system is racist; the Canadian legal system is sexist; the Canadian legal system is classist. Dawn’s brother, Ernie, made an insightful and very truthful statement during the film: Had the missing women been white, middle-upper class individuals, there would have been a much larger and thorough investigation of the disappearances. This is because the society in which we live privileges white-skinned, middle-upper class folks, and oppresses those folks who do not fit into this mold.

During the discussion after the film, one of my classmates drew reference from the disappeared First Nations women of BC to the disappeared peoples of South American countries in the 1970s during the ruling military dictatorships. While I had indeed already drawn that connection, in terms of how we are to mourn and grieve the loss of people without knowing their true fate, I began to think about the ways in which the Canadian government parallels the once very powerful military juntas of Latin America. While I would not put these two governing bodies on the same level as one another, there are striking similarities that should not go ignored: i.) both governing bodies contributed to the violation of citizens’ rights, ii.) both governing bodies committed acts of violence to citizens through the implementation of rules/laws.

I found Finding Dawn to be an incredibly emotional film to begin with. And then when my classmate made reference to the difficult process of grieving the loss of someone who has been disappeared, I felt very drained, sad, and angry. It angers me to know that so many lives have been lost because they are not valued the same as other Canadian citizens. Who is the Canadian government, the police, the justice system to make judgement on the value of a person?

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