John Thompson faults women’s groups for being “slow to respond” to Little Salmon Carmacks First Nation Chief Eddie Skookum’s reduced charges for his violent acts. (Women’s Groups Slow To The Draw On Skookum, 24 September)
To what should our media be drawing our attention?
To a handful of women working mainly for free to address systemic male violence (and racism)?
These same women are busy Ã different from “slow to respond”Ã because they are still working on a police review, mainly for free, which has entailed more than 40 meetings with paid RCMP and other largely male stakeholders. It has also required hundreds of volunteer hours writing and meeting on the part of these women to prepare the review itself. This review was triggered by the acquittals of two RCMP tried for sexual assault of a Watson Lake nurse, and by the cruel death of a First Nation man in RCMP cells in Whitehorse.
Thompson implies it is the job of women’s groups alone to respond to male violence, and that if women don’t, no one will.
It follows that Thompson thinks the rest of the community has no objection to these violent and sad events, or if they do, they have no ability to reflect to him that these violent behaviours are only sometimes discouraged through the legal system or by the communities in which they occur.
How about calling any First Nation? What about the Yukon Anti-poverty Coalition? How about a religious organization? Environmentalists? Miners? We have all been affected by male violence, and we can all say: I do not permit violence in my family, community or society.
Yesterday, I listened to the MP in Robert Picton’s riding saying on CBC Radio that his constituents are sensitive to the problem of prostitution.
Let’s practise our refocusing.
Logic would have it that his constituents would be sensitive to the reality of having had a violent man in their neighbourhood, which they may also perceive as a manifestation of a larger social problem. Picton is alive, after all, and the prostitutes are dead. Who is the threat? Picton, yes, but also the MP for trying to throw us off the pungent trail of systemic male violence by blaming its victims.
Again, let’s not let the media or politicians get away with framing the story. Prostitution is not supposed to involve violence. Let’s focus on how we protect violent men in our legal system and in our communities, and how we can protect all women, especially prostitutes, from them.
Maybe Thompson could, instead, be bold and lead the media by including the whole community with our many overlapping groups as capable of responding to male violence in our lives.
I have deep gratitude for Lois Moorcroft, Lorraine Netro, Adeline Webber, Julianna Scramstead, Darlene Johnson, Lorraine O’Brien, Barbara McInerney and Jean Gleason.
These women are speaking out about male violence.
Deep change will only come from within, though. Let’s hope our men can show each other how to be peaceful and respectful of everyone.
See more letters page 8.