Tag Archives: Report

Report: Killings Of Indigenous Leaders And Environmental Activists Rises

Reuters/Nacho Doce

Reuters/Nacho Doce

By Black Powder | Red Power Media

A report entitled, “How Many More?” released by Global Witness, shows a 20 percent rise in the number of killings of Indigenous leaders and environmental activists last year.

The report states that 116 activists were killed in 2014.

Some 40 percent of victims are indigenous peoples, protesting against hydropower, mining, logging, water and land grabs.

Each week at least two people are being killed for taking a stand against environmental destruction. Some are shot by police during protests, others gunned down by hired assassins. As companies go in search of new land to exploit, increasingly people are paying the ultimate price for standing in their way.

The report noted that in 2014 alone, 116 cases of killings in 17 countries were recorded in Central and South America and Southeast Asia, with Brazil as the worst-hit with 29 people killed, followed by Colombia with 25, the Philippines with 15 and Honduras with 12.


At least 935 people were killed in 35 countries from 2002 to 2014, compared with 908 from last year’s figure (2002 to 2013), stated the study released Monday (April 20) in Washington DC at the announcement of the 2015 Goldman Environmental Prize winners.

The prize is the world’s largest award for grassroots environmentalists who protect the natural environment.

Honduras suffered 111 killings between 2002 and 2014. The case of indigenous activist Berta Caceres, this year’s winner of the Goldman Environmental Prize, is emblematic of the systematic targeting of defenders in Honduras.

“They follow me. They threaten to kill me, to kidnap me, they threaten my family. That is what we face,” said Caceres. Since 2013, Caceres said three of her colleagues have been killed for resisting the Agua Zarca hydro-dam on the Gualcarque River, which threatens to cut off a vital water source for hundreds of indigenous Lenca people.

Protest in the Philippines

Protest in the Philippines

The Philippines leads countries in Asia with the highest number of people killed.

The report finds that 82 people were killed from 2002-2014, in the Philippines alone.

For Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the report is of a serious concern as many of the remaining forests and biodiversity hotspots are in indigenous peoples’ ancestral territories.

“One factor why this is so is because indigenous peoples protect and defend their territories from environmental destruction caused by corporate and state programs which pose high social and environmental risks,” Tauli-Corpuz told the InterAksyon.com.

“The use of paramilitary groups by corporations and the government to quell resistance against destructive projects should be stopped and the provisions of the Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act in relation to the need to obtain the free, prior and informed consent of indigenous peoples should be effectively implemented.”

Tauli-Corpuz, who is also the executive director of the Tebtebba Indigenous Peoples’ International Centre for Policy Research and Education, further said the government of the Philippines is a signatory to almost all international human rights conventions and adopted the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, yet extrajudicial killings of indigenous leaders and activists persist.

“I urge the government to address these human rights violations and uphold its obligations to International Human Rights Law. Its reputation of being one of the most dangerous places for environmentalists and also for indigenous activists is a source of shame not only for the country but for its citizens. The State should seriously address many of the unsolved killings and bring the perpetrators to justice.”

On December 22, 2014, police at the Letpadaung copper mine in Myanmar (Burma) shot and killed a woman who had joined other protesters attempting to prevent the mine’s operator from fencing off land for the project.

More and more people are being killed protecting rights to land and the environment. 47 Indigenous peoples were killed in 2014. The actual number may be even higher as a victim’s indigenous identity is likely to be underreported and cases related to indigenous people often occur in remote areas.



RCMP To Update Report On Missing And Murdered Aboriginal Women

TANYA TALAGA / TORONTO STAR FILE PHOTO Ontario Regional Chief Stan Beardy of the Assembly of First Nations said the RCMP report on missing and murdered aboriginal women "should be made available and backed up by scientific research. We are talking about people's lives."

Ontario Regional Chief Stan Beardy of the Assembly of First Nations said the RCMP report on missing and murdered aboriginal women “should be made available and backed up by scientific research. We are talking about people’s lives.”  TANYA TALAGA / TORONTO STAR FILE PHOTO

Toronto Star

A year after the release of a report on 1,181 aboriginal women and girls that have been murdered or gone missing in the last three decades, the RCMP will provide an update on progress made.

First Nations leaders are calling for all the information gathered for the report to be released to the public — a step authorities have so far not agreed to.

The RCMP is not conducting new research for a second report, but they will provide an update in May on the areas listed in their original report, the National Operational Overview on Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women, which stunned the nation after police put a figure to what many already knew — First Nations women fall victim to violence far more than non-aboriginals do.

The RCMP update will include progress made on unresolved cases, focusing on prevention, increasing public awareness and making sure the data is accurate and captures women of aboriginal background, according to RCMP Sgt. Harold Pfleiderer.

Many First Nations leaders and aboriginal advocates feel the number of 1,181 murdered and missing is too low and that there are more uncounted cases out there. Of those listed in the RCMP report, 1,017 were murdered and 164 are missing women and girls from 1980 to 2012.

After the report’s initial release, cries for a national inquiry into how to stop the killings have grown louder. But Prime Minister Stephen Harper steadfastly refuses to hold an inquiry. Instead, the provinces have decided to hold a roundtable looking at systemic issues surrounding the issue.

Last month, when Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt commented to First Nations chiefs that 70 per cent of the cases of murdered and missing aboriginal women were perpetrated by indigenous men, community leaders demanded to know what new information the minister has.

It is time for the RCMP to release all the data they have collected so far on the cases so everyone can analyze the wide variety of factors that have led to the systemic problems of murdered and missing women, said Assembly of First Nations Ontario Regional Chief Stan Beardy.

“Any report will have pros and cons. Depending on what views you are trying to project, you’ll use what works for you. The report should be made available and backed up by scientific research. We are talking about people’s lives,” Beardy said.

In Parliament on Wednesday, Valcourt refused to comment on what was discussed in the meeting with the chiefs on March 20, but he called the session productive.

Valcourt’s office would not answer specific calls from the Star.

But opposition members accused Valcourt in the House of Commons on Wednesday of being discourteous during the meeting and demanded he account for his actions, saying one chief even complained that Valcourt’s “responses and attitude strongly reflects the very same attitude that resulted in Indian residential schools.”

The original RCMP report concluded that 90 per cent of the homicide cases identified had been solved and that this percentage was similar to solved murders of non-First Nations women. Most homicides were committed by men and the report noted most women knew their attackers.

In cities across Canada on Thursday, First Nations people and advocates will march to remember Cindy Gladue, who bled to death from a 11-centimetre wound in her vagina. Gladue was a sex worker.

Bradley Barton, the long-haul trucker accused of killing her, was freed after the mostly white male jury found him not guilty. His defence argued the wound happened during rough sex.

During the criminal trial, Gladue’s body suffered further injustice after her wounded vagina was brought into court as evidence, said Audrey Huntley of Aboriginal Legal Services in Toronto. She is one of the organizers of the march to remember Gladue.

“That really shows the level of racism we are dealing with. I think that is one big reason why her case has touched such a nerve,” Huntley said.

“There has been absolutely no justice for her in the courts or from the jury. Because she was a former or current sex worker, does that mean she was allowed to be violated or killed?” she asked.

With files from Joanna Smith

By: Staff Reporter, Published on Wed Apr 01 2015


Secrecy can’t solve crisis of missing, murdered Aboriginal women

Freda Goodrunning was found dead inside a storage shed behind an out-of-business pub near 174th Street and Stony Plain Road on June 4, 2014. Photograph by: Supplied

Freda Goodrunning was found dead inside a storage shed behind an out-of-business pub near 174th Street and Stony Plain Road on June 4, 2014.
Photograph by: Supplied


EDMONTON – Her name was Freda Goodrunning. She was 35 when she died last June, her body dumped in a storage shed behind a closed-down bar formerly known as the Tilted Kilt, on Stony Plain Road near 174th Street.

Her murder didn’t generate a lot of headlines. But her tragic story helps illustrate the challenges we face in confronting Canada’s crisis of missing and murdered aboriginal women.

Freda was born on the Sunchild First Nation, northwest of Rocky Mountain House. According to family members, she was a mother of six children, the eldest born when Goodrunning was 19 or 20.

She battled a lot of demons. She was addicted to drugs and alcohol. She also had a history of relationships with violent, controlling men. Eventually, all her children were taken into the permanent care of the province.

She’d spent her last four years homeless, living on Edmonton streets.

Her body was found last June 4. An autopsy was conducted the next day. But police didn’t release her name, age or description. She was just an anonymous corpse, her death termed “suspicious,” but not criminal. Later in June, police said they were waiting for a full toxicology report before determining a cause of death.

With that, the story vanished from view.

In October, police ruled Goodrunning’s death was a homicide. She’d died of blunt force trauma.

Still, they kept that information, and her identity, confidential. Finally, on Dec. 19, the Edmonton Police Service held an odd pre-Christmas news conference, at which they told reporters of three previously unacknowledged homicides, including Goodrunning’s.

Police refused to answer questions about the case. They’d only hint that keeping Goodrunning’s murder secret had somehow helped them.

“It assisted our investigation by keeping things quiet, it has moved them forward, I really can’t comment more,” Staff Sgt. Bill Clark said at the brief news conference.

That’s all the explanation we’ve ever been given about why it took police so long to tell the public Goodrunning’s name and fate.

“The integrity of an investigation is the priority in every file. This could mean that some information is not released to the public for investigative reasons,” said police spokesperson Noreen Remtulla via email on Monday.

Still, with so little information it’s hard to imagine exactly how keeping a murder secret from the entire community could ever help solve it — or keep other women safe.

Monday, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), the human rights branch of the Organization of American States, issued a measured, thorough report into the crisis of missing and murdered aboriginal women, focusing specifically on British Columbia.

In its report, the seven-member panel echoes calls for a national inquiry into the problem of missing and murdered First Nations women and girls. But the report goes well beyond rote political rhetoric.

Without ignoring the legacy of residential schools or the challenge of institutional racism, it makes very practical, pragmatic suggestions, about everything from tracking better demographic data on missing and murdered women to improving Legal Aid, to providing better public transportation in high-crime corridors like Highway 16, to providing better educational and employment opportunities for aboriginal women. The report also stresses police must do more to communicate with aboriginal families when a relative goes missing or is killed, to build trust within the aboriginal community.

Freda’s sister, Raquel Goodrunning, says police didn’t inform her of her sister’s death until two days after the fact. Freda’s cousin Amanda says they first learned of the death via street gossip. And Raquel says she only learned in November that police had ruled Freda’s death a homicide.

“They didn’t want to advertise it, because it might hurt their investigation,” she says. “I don’t know what they were trying to do. What bothers me is that they won’t tell me anything. And I have a right to know, because she’s my sister.”

Like many who’ve died or disappeared, Freda Goodrunning was living what’s called a “high-risk lifestyle.” But it’s hard to start a community conversation about helping aboriginal women to get off the street, to get off drugs, to get out of violent relationships, if we’re not even told when someone dies. Until police across Canada can build open relationships with aboriginal communities, how can we ever begin to stop these crimes?

Freda Goodrunning had a name. She had a story. She deserved the dignity of having the community note and mourn her death.

We don’t need more secrecy about the deaths of aboriginal women. We need more honesty. And more answers.

Originally posted in the Edmonton Journal, Jan 12, 2015



Canadian police fail to protect female Aboriginals -report

First Nation"s bands form a blockade at the main VIA rail line between Toronto and Ottawa near Marysville, Ontario March 19, 2014. REUTERS/Fred Thornhill

First Nation”s bands form a blockade at the main VIA rail line between Toronto and Ottawa near Marysville, Ontario March 19, 2014. REUTERS/Fred Thornhill

(Reporting by Andrea Hopkins; Editing by Alan Crosby) Reuters

TORONTO (Reuters) – Canadian police have failed to adequately prevent and protect indigenous women and girls from killings, disappearances and extreme forms of violence, a U.S.-based human rights group said on Monday.

The damning 127-page report by the branch of the Organization of American States said police failure and systemic discrimination against Canada’s Aboriginal community has contributed to the plight of missing or murdered indigenous women and the poverty that is at the root of the violence.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police said last May that 1,017 Aboriginal women had been murdered between 1980 and 2012. Another 108 are missing under suspicious circumstances, with some cases dating back to 1952.

“According to the information received, the police have failed to adequately prevent and protect indigenous women and girls from killings and disappearances, extreme forms of violence, and have failed to diligently and promptly investigate these acts,” the report said.

It also said addressing violence against women is not sufficient unless the underlying factors of discrimination that originate and exacerbate the violence are also addressed, ideally through an national inquiry or action plan.

That contradicts the view of Canada’s Conservative government, which has said the disproportionate violence against Aboriginal women and girls is a criminal, not a sociological, problem that would not be helped by a national inquiry.

A spokeswoman for Kellie Leitch, minister for the status of women, said the government was reviewing the report.

The two-year investigation by the OAS’s Inter-American Commission on Human Rights was requested by the Native Women’s Association of Canada, which hopes the recommendations will pressure Ottawa into action.

“These women and girls are being stolen from our families, from our communities, and it is time that somebody is taking this seriously,” Aboriginal advocate and NWAC vice-president Dawn Harvard told a news conference in Ottawa.

The native women’s association has said only 53 percent of murder cases involving indigenous women and girls have led to charges of homicide, while 40 percent of murder cases remain unsolved. That compares with an 84 percent clearance rate for homicides in Canada as a whole.

Among its recommendations, the group said Canada needed improved police training and oversight, better data collection, and better coordination between different levels of government to counter the problem.

Canada’s 1.4 million Aboriginals have higher levels of poverty and a lower life expectancy than other Canadians, and are more often victims of violent crime.

Less than half live on reserves, and Aboriginal children make up nearly half of all Canadian children aged 14 and under living in foster care, according to Statistics Canada.

Human rights report on murdered, missing aboriginal women is ‘groundbreaking,’ advocates say

Dr. Dawn Harvard of the Native Women's Association of Canada speaks to reporters, Jan. 12, 2015.

Dr. Dawn Harvard of the Native Women’s Association of Canada speaks to reporters, Jan. 12, 2015.

CTV News

Canada is obligated under international human rights laws to prevent violence against indigenous women by taking measures to address poverty and other socio-economic factors, according to a new report.

The report, released Monday by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, an arm of the Organization of American States, said Canada’s history of colonization, inequality and economic and social marginalization are some of the root causes of violence against indigenous women.

The commission started an investigation into British Columbia’s missing and murdered aboriginal women in 2013, on a request from the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) and the Canadian Feminist Alliance for International Action (FAFIA).

The report, which includes interviews with Canadian government officials, opposition politicians and aboriginal women’s groups, supports the call on the federal government to launch an inquiry into the issue.

“The IACHR considers that there is much more to understand and to acknowledge in relation to the missing and murdered indigenous women,” the report said.

“This initiative must be organized in consultation with indigenous peoples, particularly indigenous women, at all stages.”

During a news conference Monday morning, NWAC Vice-President Dawn Harvard called the report “groundbreaking.”

“This report is the first in-depth examination of the murders and disappearances (of aboriginal women) by an expert international human rights body,” she said. “These women and girls are being stolen from our families and our communities and it is time that somebody is taking this seriously.”

The RCMP estimated in a report released last year that about 1,200 aboriginal women and girls were murdered or went missing in Canada between 1980 and 2012.

‘Broader pattern’ of violence and discrimination

The report found that the disappearances and murders of indigenous women are part of a “broader pattern” of violence and discrimination against aboriginal women in Canada, who are significantly over-represented as victims of homicide. The report also found that they are three times more likely to be victims of violence than non-indigenous women.

It also found the following:

  • Addressing violence against indigenous women is insufficient unless underlying factors of poverty, and racial and gender discrimination are also addressed.
  • In accordance with international human rights standards, Canada is obliged to continue the investigation of unsolved cases of missing indigenous women.
  • The federal and provincial governments have a responsibility for the legal status and conditions of aboriginal women, and should provide a co-ordinated national response.

Despite calls for a national inquiry, Prime Minister Stephen Harper has repeatedly said that the justice system and police investigations are the best way to deal with the issue.

Harvard said Monday that the NWAC hopes that the new report will put the international spotlight on the government’s response.

“It is our hope and our belief that this report will be known and noted around the world, and the response of the Canadian government will be cause for hope for our peoples or for further shame,” she said. “And we hope it will be cause for hope and for action to begin new change.”