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The Police Response to MMIWG: A Dangerous Cycle

Tansi Nîtôtemtik,


The victimization of Indigenous women and girls in Canada, coupled with the failure by police to investigate these crimes sufficiently, has led to a cyclical pattern of the dehumanizing and devaluing of Indigenous women and girls in this country.


This failure to investigate can lead to a shift in the minds of the general public, dehumanizing Indigenous women and girls and desensitizing the public to the violence that is often inflicted against them. This dehumanization and desensitization, in turn, will affect the way that violent crimes against Indigenous women are investigated. This cycle of dehumanization has devastating consequences for Indigenous women, girls, and their families.


Photo Credit: ICT News <https://ictnews.org/news/known-and-not-forgotten>.


In the years since the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Inquiry (MMIWG), the RCMP and other police services have been under fire for their inappropriate responses to the MMIWG crisis in Canada. On one occasion, the Coquitlam RCMP, responding to reports of attempted abductions of women in the Tri-Cities area, stated that people should stop spreading unproven rumours.[1] This statement not only minimizes the real fear that many Indigenous women and girls have of simply being ‘taken’, but also reinforces the distrust that these women and girls have for many law enforcement bodies.[2] In response to this situation, Kukpi7 Judy Wilson, Secretary Treasurer of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs stated, “By putting out a statement that fails to respect the real concerns and experiences of the women in our community, the RCMP are greatly discouraging people from coming forward in the future to share their stories of violence, victimization, and discrimination…”[3]


Although TRC Call to Action #41 (the introduction of the MMIWG Inquiry) is considered “complete” by many, much more has to be done to protect Indigenous women and girls.[4] It is absolutely crucial that the RCMP and other police services take steps to ensure that investigations of murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls are taken seriously and are investigated in a timely manner, and free of bias and prejudice that may be held by individual officers or by entire organizations.


A stark example of where the police failed to investigate appropriately has been the recent case of a Winnipeg serial killer. It was back in June 2022 that the police had reason to believe that the remains of victims, Morgan Harris and Marcedes Myran, were transported to a local landfill.[5] This fact, however, was not revealed publicly until December 2022. The police said that it was simply not feasible to search the landfill, and that “about 10,000 loads of debris had been dumped on the load they were interested in” before they had considered conducting a search.[6] Although many have been pushing for a search, it has still not been conducted at this time.[7]


The recovery of the women is obviously very important to family members. “How can you even fathom the idea to leave them there? These women are deserving of a proper resting place…”[8] This statement made by a family member brings us back to such an important piece of the MMIWG puzzle, which is the fact that each of these women were human, and as such, they (and their families) deserve respect and justice.


The RCMP and other police services in this country hold so much power, and with that power comes a responsibility to play an important role in combating the MMIWG crisis. It is about time that they take this role seriously.


Until next time,

Team Reconcili-ACTION YEG



[1] “RCMP’s Alarming Response to Abduction Rumours Exacerbates MMIWG Crisis” (10 February 2020), online: Union of BC Indian Chiefs <https://www.ubcic.bc.ca/rcmp_s_alarming_response_to_abduction_rumors_exacerbates_mmiwg_crisis>. [2] Ibid. [3] Ibid. [4] “Beyond 94: Truth and Reconciliation in Canada” (last modified 17 June 2022), online: CBC News <https://www.cbc.ca/newsinteractives/beyond-94/appoint-a-public-inquiry-into-the-causes-of-and-remedies-for-the-disproportionate-victimization-of-aboriginal-women-and-girls>. [5] Caitlyn Gowriluk, “A timeline of what we know about 4 slain Winnipeg women and alleged serial killer Jeremy Skibicki” (11 December 2022), online: CBC News <https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/jeremy-skibicki-winnipeg-alleged-serial-killer-timeline-1.6681433>. [6] Ibid. [7] Ibid. [8] Ibid.

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