A new standard for grief - and action - The Orca
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A new standard for grief – and action

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As Canada watches a manhunt with bated breath, it’s worth asking why we don’t react like this for every tragedy?

Our news cycle continues to be dominated by the murder of three innocent people, seemingly for no other reason than being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Amplifying the tragedy is the Canada-wide search for the pair of teen fugitives from BC who are on the run for going on two weeks

It’s been all eyes on The Manhunt.

From the moment the victims names were released, the story has had global attention, a very busy couple of weeks at my day job as we spent hours and hours of live radio updates on this evolving story, the intensity of the search: the coordinated response of RCMP, other police departments – even the Canadian Armed Forces. I didn’t go 30 minutes without mentioning the story.

We all know Chyna Deese, Lucas Fowler and Len Dyck by name — as we should — the innocents in the Northern BC murders of two weeks ago. While the whole country is consumed with the “Manhunt in Manitoba,” it’s estimated 1,200 Indigenous Women have gone missing in our country since tabulating the missing began in 1970. Where is this level attention for them? Not one of those reports sparked a manhunt even close to the magnitude of what we have been watching.

It’s nothing short of alarming how the missing and murdered Indigenous women in our country seem to be just numbers — very few names are known, never mind household names, unless family and community rally en masse to raise awareness.

It is no excuse, now, to claim that the areas where many of these MMIW met their demise are “too remote” — clearly manhunts can be conducted in remote areas, like Gillam or York Landing, Manitoba. There are few places more remote.

Were MMIW being punished for hitchhiking? In many cases, this was the only mode of transportation available. How else are these women to get to work, school, see family, or seek medical attention?

This harsh reality must be acknowledged and discussed at the federal government level, and by “acknowledge” I’m not asking for more of the go-to acknowledging we are “on the unceded territory of X.”

The best way to apologize would be to acknowledge that government, at all levels, has failed on the MMIW file. Start there. Then follow with actual investigation — perhaps a dedicated force — ending with perpetrators held to account in the name of their crimes and in honour of the victims who were “just numbers.”

No more inquiry, it’s time for action. Create the infrastructure to protect the vulnerable people being preyed upon.

We mourn Chyna, Lucas, and Len by name – as we should. We need to extend this same level of shock, grief, and resolve to the 1,200 nameless MMIW – who, after all, represent a tragedy literally 400 times larger.

This exhaustive manhunt should raise the bar for a new standard of reaction to any Canadian missing or feared murdered.

All Canadians.

Jody Vance is a born and raised Vancouverite who’s spent 30 years in both local and national media. The first woman in the history of Canadian TV to host her own sports show in primetime, since 2011 she’s been working in both TV and radio covering news and current affairs.

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