Reclaiming Power and Place

Reclaiming Power and Place, The Report by the National Inquiry into Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women, estimated to number 4000 or more, concludes that this is a “Canadian genocide”. It forces Canadians to reconsider their self understanding as an equitable polity and their imagination of Canada as a country where very different people and cultures can live together. Instead, after a long and fraught but careful process, it presents evidence of a country that for generations has lived in indifference to the exploitation and murder of Indigenous people who were so marginalized that they have been pushed to a vanishing point, becoming invisible and, when visible, unwelcome disrupters of this spatial division that some have compared to apartheid.

The Report shows the continuing vulnerability of women and the intersections of gender and Indigeneity. It disrupts the sense we have of security and of care. It tells us things about cities and about the in-between spaces – truths that need to be recognized, however painful. That is to say, that the report is not only a mirror of the Canadian State with its institutions, police and regulations, but a reflection of a whole society and way of life. It challenges a complacent Canadian assurance that the State is protecting and is able to guarantee the security of its citizens.

What are the steps we must take? What powers can we bring to bear to remake this place? How can this space of the nation and the evidence of an unequal territory divided between spaces of privilege and neglect be put back together?

Rob Shields (University of Alberta)