The International Women’s Day is a time when the world comes together to reflect, celebrate and empower women all over the globe. But this year, Canada has a lot more to reflect on, following the mounting reports of its failure to empower and protect the indigenous women.

While Canada prides itself on its approach to equality, multiculturalism, and its liberal stance, there is a side to politics of women and equality in Canada that is often left undiscussed, unknown and forgotten. Just prior to this year’s International Women’s Day, Legal Strategy Coalition on Violence Against Indigenous Women has released a report looking into the murder, abduction and abuse of the indigenous women.

A number of reports and calls for attention regarding the inequality of the aboriginal women have been a subject of study and deliberation over a few decades, and despite the recommended measures, Canada has done very little to combat the problem.

On Friday, March 6th, another such report by the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, concluded that Canada has, by its apathetic stance, committed grave violations of human rights against its aboriginal female population.

The native women in Canada are more likely to be the victims of violent crimes – more so than men and non-aboriginal women. They are also more likely to die, as a result. Despite the huge numbers of the aboriginal women disappearing, being murdered or abused, Canada has failed to implement measures for prevention and has further failed to adequately investigate the missing and murder cases.

In the past three decades in Canada, at least 1,200 aboriginal women have died or gone missing. The questions have been raised regarding how deep the inequality and racism have rooted themselves in the Canadian government. Aboriginal women, through the Indian Act, were stripped of their political and legal powers, confined in reserves from which, they were then excluded, should they have married outside.

This was a Canadian legal way to absorb the native people and gradually ‘’assimilate them’’. Even Canadian women who fought for the right to have women declared as ‘persons’ under the law in 1900s, had their part in the forcible sterilization of thousands of aboriginal girls and women, without their consent or knowledge.

The abuse and ostracization of aboriginal women have been an issue and a shame of Canada for hundreds of years, which disgracefully lingers even today. This International Women’s Day is a day for Canada to remember, reflect and take action against the injustice and abuse of the indigenous women.