Teaching a self-evident truth

Wendy Elliott
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An ancient Chinese proverb sets out that women hold up half the sky. I don’t know how we can teach that self-evident proverb.

A new report has added 62 more names to a growing list of missing or slain aboriginal women and girls across Canada. The Native Women's Association of Canada sets the horrific number at 582.

The group collected data from the last three decades, with 153 of the cases occurring between 2000 and 2008. Most of the women in the database were killed, 115 are still missing.

According to the association, there is no national missing-persons database and police records don't always indicate aboriginal status. The Sisters in Spirit initiative found First Nations females are more likely to be killed by a stranger than non-aboriginal.

Most of the deaths and disappearances occurred in our western provinces, but there are missing or slain women recorded in all regions and territories. There was the tragic loss of a teenage girl in New Brunswick last fall. More than half of the slain and missing women and girls were under the age of 31.

Ironically, the recent federal budget cut deep into the Aboriginal Healing Foundation (AHF), which funded over 130 traditional healing programs. This is just one year after the Canadian government made an apology to survivors of the residential school system.

The issues facing women range far beyond Canada, of course. Pulitzer Prize winning writers Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, who crafted “Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide,” ably point that out with one harrowing true tale after another. They declare the global struggle for women’s equality “the paramount moral challenge” of our era.

Some truths, like the equality of half the world’s population, should be self evident, but not yet….

Organizations: Association of Canada, Aboriginal Healing Foundation, First Nations

Geographic location: Canada, New Brunswick

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