Food for Thought: Responding to ‘Those Who Take Us Away’

Posted: February 21, 2013 by Mike Larsen in Food for Thought

In this unit, we are studying discriminatory policing practices. Our first two classes focus on racial profiling and the causes and consequences of discriminatory policing in Canada.

As it happens, our engagement with these topics coincides with a heightened level of media coverage and public conversation regarding discriminatory policing in British Columbia. One of the events responsible for this latest surge of interest was the release of the Human Rights Watch report Those Who Take Us Away, which focuses on the experiences of Aboriginal women in Northern BC communities.

From Human Rights Watch:

The 89-page report documents both ongoing police failures to protect indigenous women and girls in the north from violence and violent behavior by police officers against women and girls. Police failures and abuses add to longstanding tensions between the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and indigenous communities in the region, Human Rights Watch said. The Canadian government should establish a national commission of inquiry into the murders and disappearances of indigenous women and girls, including the impact of police mistreatment on their vulnerability to violence in communities along Highway 16, which has come to be called northern British Columbia’s “Highway of Tears.”

The report has received considerable coverage in the Canadian news media. Many of these media outlets offer the opportunity for members of the public to post comments in response to news stories. While it is important to recognize that we cannot claim that the opinions expressed in these forums are representative of Canadian public opinion, they do offer us an interesting window into some of the prominent ideas and narratives that characterize conversations about policing and discrimination.


Food for Thought:

  1. Identify an online newsmedia article that (a) discusses the Human Rights Watch report and (b) allows for public comments. Provide a short description of the article content, and include an active hyperlink to the article page.
  2. Review the comments posted in response to the article, and write a commentary about the key themes that emerge. What do these comments tell us about public reaction to the specific allegations made in the Human Rights Watch report? What do they tell us about public perceptions of the relationships between police organizations and Aboriginal communities? Include excerpts from posted comments to illustrate your arguments.
  3. Conclude your post with a comment of your own that you would post in response to the article you have selected.

This post is due on or before March 5.

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