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600 Rising

Isis Gumbs / Canada / 2014 / 90 ' / English

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This timely doc examines the issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women in Canada.

Synopsis

'600 RISING' examines the issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women in Canada. In the last 3 decades more than 600 Indigenous women have gone missing and murdered. The numbers are expected to be much higher, but  since the missing women's database was eliminated by the federal government in 2010, Canada has stopped keeping count. Through strong personal stories of victims families, and critique from activists, lawyers, and International human rights organizations, '600 RISING' examines current Canadian policies and institutions, linking Canada's Colonial legacy to the present day disregard for Indigenous women's lives.

The story is introduced through Bridget Tolley, an Algonquin Indigenous woman and activist, from Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg, who tragically lost her mother when Sûreté du Québec officers struck and killed her mother with a police vehicle. The follow up investigation on her mothers death was not transparent. The brother of the officer that hit her mother was the investigator in charge of the case, and she was given contradictory reports from 3 different police departments. Eventually the case was closed without even a word from Police services to Bridget and her family.

It would be optimistic to believe that Bridget's story was an isolated incident. Unfortunately it is not. Indigenous communities have historically had, and continue to have, an adverse relationship with police and justice services here in Canada. One need only remember the serial murders in the downtown east side of Vancouver, and even in Winnipeg. When reports are made, these women's disappearances are not taken seriously by the RCMP and local police departments. The Federal governments elimination of the national database for the missing women adds further insult to injury.

The UN, Amnesty International, and Human Rights Watch have all criticized Canada for its violations and neglect of Indigenous women's human rights, and Indigenous women's groups are demanding a national inquiry. So far, the government refuses to comply with the requests, offering instead top down approaches, that centre on police initiatives, and offer no promise of reinstating a missing women's database.

This film poses the question, 'Is Canada doing enough?'  Canada has apologized for residential schools, and acknowledges the intergenerational affect of its policies on Indigenous communities, but what is it doing about the crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women?

This is a timely documentary. It is a time where all the worlds people are strengthening their fight for justice, a time where Indigenous communities lead the call on their government to be no longer 'Idle' in their responsibilities to their communities. It is my hopes that this documentary will be ready for screening and distribution during 2015, right in time for the Federal elections, so that the issue will be at the forefront of all Canadians minds, discussed in media, and be impossible for the politicians to avoid.

 

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