Faithfully Observe the Laws of Canada
Issue Three: A Climactic Turning PointAugust 2015
Welcome to another installment to our Faithfully Observe the Laws of Canada series. The PS Buzz is going to open by saying that we don’t want to shock readers, but the content of this article will be dealing with sensitive material. If you feel upset, or disturbed by the content represented in this article- you should.
There are two particular pieces that we will be examining, one is reviewing an investigation conducted by the RCMP and the second is a case study reviewing the trial of Cree woman Cindy Gladue.
Another warning, this is not a fun article, at least it won’t be as light hearted as our previous publications.
2015 saw the publication of some shocking findings, at least they were findings that were finally acknowledged by the Canadian government as fact. The first on our agenda is a report released in the early 2015 where the RCMP reported that an estimated 1,017 women and girls identified as Indigenous were murdered between 1980 and 2012—a homicide rate roughly 4.5 times higher than that of all other women in Canada.
That’s right; the report deals primarily with concrete cases of murder.
This leads to an area of concern as deaths of Indigenous women and girls are not always fully and properly investigated and as a result some murders of Indigenous women and girls may have been wrongly classified as accidental deaths.
But sure, that’s nit-picking the statistics, so we’ll consider it a necessary means of limiting scope creep.
Police in Canada do not always consistently record the Indigenous identity of victims. Mainly for a good reason, as that would mean profiling cases which can sometimes lead to biased approaches to these investigations.
Statistics Canada reports that in 2009, police records failed to note whether the victims of crime were Aboriginal or non-Aboriginal in 384 out of 610 homicides. Some victims of crime are being inaccurately identified as non-Aboriginal because police have not had proper training on why accurate identification is important and how it’s to be determined.
The 2015 report also doesn’t distinguish between First Nations, Inuit and Métis women and girls. As a consequence, it does not provide any information on whether the homicide rate is the same or differs among these groups.
Just to put this concern into perspective, as of a 2011 census, there are an estimated 600 recognized First Nations governments and bands. So, even by sectioning these victims into thirds, it’s not necessarily representing an appropriate demographic.
The RCMP report also provides a number of statistics on the lives of the victims. The nature of many of these statistics—such as history of illegal drug use or involvement in illegal activities—suggests an inappropriate focus on the possible role of the victim’s own actions and behaviors.
We don’t want to linger on this fact for too long, but it’s wrong to try and find reasons that justify the treatment victims have received.
As an example, the report does not include any information on how many of the women and girls previously sought help or protection from the police or service agencies OR the response they received. Which to us, seems like a fairly big oversight, but this is the first of many reports to come. Right?
Okay, let’s stay on the same topic but switch gears a little bit.
However, if you are interested in developing your own interpretation of this report a link has been provided in the resource section!
The following case study should be considered disturbing. It has been included in this issue as a way to show the real world implications of mistreating Aboriginal, Metis, and Inuit people.
Case Study: Cindy Gladue
Cindy Gladue was a 36-year-old mother, a daughter, and also a Cree woman. Cindy Gladue was a human being that (due to circumstances that exist for millions of people around the world) held the profession of a sex worker. A lady of the evening, comfort girl, prostitute. She made a living in this trade, where your stance is on this profession shouldn’t really matter.
In 2011, Cindy bled to death in the bathtub of the hotel room of Barton because of an 11-centimetre injury to her vagina.
Sadly, the most shocking part of this case is not how Cindy died. What is most disturbing is that a Canadian court allowed the most intimate part of a woman's body to be evidence in a jury trial.
What was the reason to bring Cindy’s remains into a court room? It was ruled that her work in the sex trade was the cause of her death, and not necessarily due to a client she had been with on the night of her death. So, it has basically been deemed an occupational hazard.
This case study is gruesome enough, but the defendant’s (Bradley Barton-46) argument was basically: A persons hand could not have caused this wound as it was caused by a knife.
So, reading between the lines of what The PS Buzz wishes to disclose, the defendant used his hand not a knife- and therefore couldn’t have caused her death. Think of it as you will.
The ruling of this case was that Barton did not intend to harm Cindy, and her death was the result of a consensual transaction. The verdict: Not-guilty and Barton has been acquitted of charges.
Cindy’s case is quite possibly one of the most disturbing examples of how the court system is unclear and often mismanaged when handling sex crimes. The fact that she was a Cree woman adds to the fodder that aboriginal rights/HUMAN RIGHTS are misrepresented in Canada’s legal system.
Just think about this, a Canadian court allowed Cindy’s remains to be brought into court and presented as evidence that a HAND couldn’t have caused her internal fatal injury. To this day, her body is still not whole, as the court system believes in preservation of evidence.
Okay, time to breathe, apologies to our more sensitive readers, but all of the points presented can be found in the trial minutes.
It’s probably best to end this article here. We promised last issue that we were going to focus on the Truth and Reconciliation report, trust us we have another doozy of an article for that. However, given Canada’s current political atmosphere, an article focusing on the RCMP’s 2015 report seemed more pertinent.
To the constant reader, we apologize if this article has unsettled you, but we must promise that it is in only with best intentions that we publish this article. The plan is for some happier articles to be posted in the coming week. This series takes time for many reasons, research and editing particularly.
As always, if you are enraged, interested, or mildly curious with our intentions and thoughts while this series is being published then we feel like we have done some sort of job. That being said, volunteer writers are always encouraged, no matter the point of view!
Also, here's a cat picture to lighten up this article:
Links as promised:
Amnesty International- http://www.amnesty.ca/blog/missing-and-murdered-indigenous-women-and-girls-understanding-the-numbers
CBC: Aboriginal women still over represented among Canada’s missing and murdered women- http://www.cbc.ca/news/aboriginal/aboriginal-women-still-overrepresented-among-canada-s-missing-and-murdered-women-1.3120272
CBC: Cindy Gladue suffered her last indignity at murder trial- http://www.cbc.ca/news/aboriginal/cindy-gladue-suffered-her-last-indignity-at-murder-trial-1.3019500
Vice: Aboriginal Woman’s Preserved Pelvis Shown in Court, an Indignity That ‘Can Never Be Undone’- http://www.vice.com/en_ca/read/aboriginal-womans-preserved-pelvis-shown-in-court-an-indignity-that-can-never-be-undone-278