Don’t you just hate it when politicians see something going on in society, something they’ve ignored for years and years, maybe even stonewalled attempts to ameliorate the situation, perhaps even cut funding for programs that might have helped groups working to improve lives, yet here they are trying to take some credit for doing something when they’re actually doing sweet F-A!

Why that’s it!  Why not have an award for yolks like this?  How about the “Sweet Eff-Ay Award“? Hmmmm…. where to begin?

Why not with this news release?

October 4, 2009
Statement: Indian and Northern Affairs Canada
OTTAWA, ONTARIO–(Marketwire – Oct. 4, 2009) – The following statement was released today by the Honourable Rob Nicholson, Minister of Justice, the Honourable Chuck Strahl, Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Metis and Non-Status Indians, the Honourable Peter Van Loan, Minister of Public Safety and the Honourable Helena Guergis, Minister of State (Status of Women), on the occasion of the 4th annual Sisters in Spirit vigil:

“On the occasion of this fourth annual Sisters in Spirit vigil, the Government of Canada reiterates its commitment to protecting andadvancing the equality of Aboriginal women and girls.

Today, Canadians from across the country will gather to honour the lives of the many Aboriginal women and girls who are missing, and offer support to their families who bear the terrible burden of grief. As a nation, we cannot stand by while over five hundred Aboriginal mothers, sisters, daughters, and aunties have been taken so violently from us.”

Yes, put your full freaking names AND all of your damn job titles in the first damn paragraph because we know who’s really important here. You guys – not those Indigenous women.

Note the date of the release too. Sunday, “October 4.” Um… that’s the very day that the Native Women’s Association of Canada and its Sisters in Spirit campaign have made known for the past four years. Kinda late getting it out, right? Almost way too late to make it into any newspaper or newscast. It would almost (I know, forgive me) seem as though you guys had forgotten this ANNUAL event. Oh, but you’ve actually got the word “annual” in your release?  Hmmm, y’all might want to mark it on your calendars for next year?

Now, when exactly did any of you three decide to issue a statement anyway? Or did someone else bring it to your attention? Either way, the timing sucks. It’s got “embarrassing afterthought” written all over it. It almost makes y’all look like you’re trying to exploit something that you just found out might be exploited.

Shall we continue?

Ending this type of violence and bringing to justice those who have committed crimes is a shared responsibility of all levels of government as well as law enforcement agencies, the justice system, and civil society. We will continue to work together with Aboriginal organizations, provinces and territories, to protect the rights, freedoms and safety of
Aboriginal women and girls.”

Uh, you might have said something. I hate to say it but this is full of empty platitudes. Not a single commitment in there. It almost seems to be, and excuse my forthrightness here, a mite weasely. You know what I mean, especially with that “shared responsibility”stuff. It almost seems as though you’re trying to avoid your own major responsibility to do something to protect the lives of Indigenous women, given your Federal Government’s primary responsibility in the lives of Indigenous women. Not to mention the primary and coordinating role that your departments, your offices, might – should – play by pulling in those provincial governments and their justice and solicitor-generals and police forces so things could actually get started.

You know- take the lead. Get off your butts and get to work. Earn the money you get paid for by Canadians. You might begin by initiating major education and public awareness campaigns aimed at the general Canadian population since, if studies in the United States are any indication, the majority of attacks against Indigenous women are committed by White men.

We also wish to commend the Native Women’s Association of Canada for the work they have done through their Sisters in Spirit initiative. Through its tireless work, NWAC has contributed to our understanding of the extent and nature of violence against Aboriginal women and girls. Together, we have undertaken activities aimed at verifying the actual number of missing and murdered women, understanding the root causes of racially and sexually based violence.

A suggestion here. You might have been able to identify an actual program that your departments have funded at the Native Women’s Association of Canada and its Sisters in Spirit campaign. Of course, ignore this bit of advice if your department hasn’t funded NWAC in any way. Still, you might also have taken the opportunity to announce a grant – maybe your first to NWAC – but sans the usual “project funding” strings that make organizations like this dance to your departments’ tunes. It could have been an opportunity for y’all to treat this organization with the respect it deserves. Why do I harp on this?

Forcing NWAC and other groups like this into “project” funding, forcing them to follow your rather narrow and often useless departmental guidelines instead of pursuing those areas of research that they KNOW are vital, makes them waste time and energy, skills and talent. THEY are the experts in these fields – not those white, middle-class, college grads in your department (many of whom have never even been to Indigenous community) who call themselves “experts.” That’s what we in the field call “a dumb move.”

We urge all Canadians to take a moment today to reflect on this grave injustice and the ways we can collectively fight against it. Together, we can make a difference and put an end to the violence against Aboriginal women and girls.”

You got the word wrong. It’s spelled “d-e-f-l-e-c-t” – deflect not “reflect.” Because that’s seems to be the aim of this release. Y’know what I mean? You apparently forgot the date. You seem oblivious to the significance. But you had to send out something, since so many Canadians remembered the date and understood the importance to society as a whole. So it seems as though, with this release, that y’all actually wanted to deflect responsibility.

Now, I might be wrong about all of the above. Regardless, I think that y’all are a most deserving group to receive the first ever Sweet Eff-Ay Award.

Rob Nicholson, Chuck Strahl, Peter Van Loan, and Helena Guergis – congratulations! Keep up the good work.

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