With Friends Like These: Expand the Inquiry, but on whose terms?

On December 7th, 2016, a coalition called Expand the Inquiry launched a petition asking that the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) be widened to include Indigenous men and boys.[1] This coalition includes a number of Indigenous and non-Indigenous people, but in the main is being directed by Adam Jones, a non-Indigenous professor of political science at the University of British Columbia, Ernie Crey, chief of Cheam First Nation, and the Canadian Association for Equality (CAFE).

On its face, the call for a gender inclusive national inquiry seems to be grounded in a desire for equality in the examination of violence against Indigenous peoples in Canada. It is undeniable that Indigenous peoples of all genders face disproportionate levels of violence in this country. Understanding the root causes of that violence is absolutely necessary in order to create and implement anti-violence programs and support.

Since at least 2014, and certainly even before that, family members of missing and murdered Indigenous men and boys (MMIMB) have been trying to raise public awareness of their struggles for justice. Organizations like Stolen Sisters Awareness March, who were instrumental in the struggle to bring attention to the issue of MMIWG, have also sponsored events to support these families.[2] Just as over 20 years of organizing around MMIWG made space for a wider discussion about the specific kinds of violence Indigenous women and girls face, the space is now being made to examine what particular factors lead to such a high proportion of MMIMB.

What is worrisome is that the issue of MMIMB seems to have drawn the attention and even sponsorship of Men’s Rights Activists (MRAs). MRAs “contend that men are discriminated against in law, education and government funding, and that feminism is to blame for this.”[3] MRA organizations are explicitly anti-feminist, unlike the other stream of mainstream masculinities studies that Robert Innes describes as being guided by feminist and queer theory and praxis.[4]

In the context of the National Inquiry into MMIWG, the MRA narrative being asserted is that the lack of attention to MMIMB is the fault of feminists. I want to highlight the way in which these anti-feminist MRA interventions in the MMIWG inquiry reinforce the imposition of white supremacist heteronormative patriarchy on Indigenous peoples. Rather than helping to raise awareness of MMIMB, accepting the allyship and sponsorship of MRAs without interrogating the analytical framework they apply to violence against Indigenous peoples, has the potential to undermine important work being done by Indigenous families and organizations who are struggling to raise the profile of MMIMB.

What’s the problem with CAFE?

The Canadian Association for Equality (CAFE) is a non-profit Men’s Rights organization headquartered in Toronto, with branches in six other Canadian cities, and with sixteen affiliated University campus groups. They applied for charitable status in 2013, which the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) granted in 2014.

There were some questions raised about this application however, as CAFE listed a number of names of feminist and gay rights organizations that have absolutely no ties to the group whatsoever. Included on CAFE’s application were the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF), Egale Canada, and Status of Women Canada. An online Toronto publication, NOW, contacted these organizations and were told they had been listed without consent.[5]

CAFE also listed individuals on the application without their knowledge or consent, including a women’s studies scholar from Queen’s University. The application detailed CAFE’s uncontroversial activities but omitted speaking events that had sparked anti-hate speech protests and were widely covered in the media.

It is notable that this application was approved at a time when the Harper government introduced restrictions on the political activities of charities under the Income Tax Act. According to those rules, only 10 per cent of a charity’s activities are allowed to be political. Any more and organizations run the risk of having their charitable status removed. Environmental and human-rights non-profits were hit especially hard with CRA tax audits as a result. For example, Canada Without Poverty was audited in 2015 and told they were using 98.5 per cent of their resources on political activities.[6]

Under CRA policy, which has not yet been changed by the current Liberal government, activities are presumed to be political if a charity: [7]

  • explicitly communicates a call to political action;
  • explicitly communicates to the public that the law, policy, or decision of any level of government in Canada or a foreign country should be retained, opposed, or changed; etc.

With such broad restrictions, there is certainly pressure on non-profit organizations to downplay their political advocacy. Much of what can be found on CAFE’s website is characterized as educational, with a smaller portion of the site dedicated to political advocacy, such the Expand the Inquiry campaign. In their promotional materials, CAFE is careful to focus on their slogan “equality means equality for everyone” rather than promoting explicitly anti-feminist positions.

However, CAFE organizers and members have not minced words off the main website. David Shackleton sits on CAFE’s board of directors, and is President of the Ottawa branch.[8] He made his views on feminism very clear in 1999 as editor and publisher of Everyman: A Men’s Journal: [9]

“…feminine evil is taking over our culture, and feminism is the leading and driving ideology of this process. This situation has its roots in our childraising practice in the last fifty years, and is directly analagous [sic] to the historical rise of Nazism in Germany. The resulting human misery and destruction is already massive, and seems likely to exceed that of WWII.”

As disturbing as this claim is, Shackleton later expanded upon the perceived evils of feminism in a blog post about the 1989 murder of fourteen female engineering students at Montreal’s École Polytechnique when he explained that “Marc Lepine wasn’t trying to kill women. He was trying to kill feminists.” Shackleton goes on to state that feminism is founded on the false belief “that men as a gender have more power than women.” He asserts that “power between men and women is balanced and has been throughout history.” Marc Lepine’s murderous rampage was therefore the result of feminism undermining this balance. Shackleton ominously asks whether Lepine is “perhaps, representative of a possible future, one in which men, shamed beyond endurance by a male-hating Feminist establishment, strike out in desperation at those they judge responsible?”[10]

This rhetorical turn, which mischaracterizes feminism as being “male-hating”, dismisses feminist analyses of patriarchy as untrue, as well as actually blaming feminism for violence against women, is not an uncommon MRA tactic.

Janice Fiamengo, Vice-President of CAFE’s Ottawa branch, also demonstrates her views on feminism off CAFE’s main website. In a series of videos, she identifies as anti-feminist and says that feminism is “about special privileges and advantages for women and special exemptions from responsibility.”[11] On the issue of women gaining the right to vote, Fiamengo explains that “to say that women were not allowed to vote throughout history is like saying that they weren’t allowed to flap their wings and fly. Almost no one, including women themselves thought they should.”[12]

Fiamengo’s husband and member of CAFE, David Solway, has waxed even more eloquent on the issue of the female franchise, stating that “a disinterested survey of the matter… suggests a preponderance of negative effects stemming from the female franchise” contending that women being granted the right to vote has weakened Western nations.[13]

Fiamengo and Solway are not merely anti-feminists, they are also proudly anti-Muslim. In a 2016 co-authored piece, Fiamengo and Solway discuss “the growing epidemic of rape, forced prostitution and sexual molestation associated with the Muslim entry into western societies”, but caution about focusing too much on “certain classes of victims” (gays and young women) at the expense of caring about how Muslim immigration impacts straight men and their sons.[14] Solway warns that “we are engaged in a war… that has gone on for fourteen centuries” with Muslims and that “Islamic immigration must be drastically curtailed if not completely stopped.” He also insists that for Muslims already settled in the West, “surveillance must be intensive, methodical and ongoing” and “all mosques, which are effectively command centers, must be stringently investigated and many must be closed down.”[15]

In May of 2016, Fiamengo appeared on a white nationalist radio program Radio 3Fourteen.[16] The program is endorsed by the neo-Nazi website Daily Stormer[17] and features episodes with titles like “Dr. David Duke – A New Paradigm for True Human Diversity and Freedom”.[18] Fiamengo agreed with Radio 3Fourteen’s host who condemned white, Western feminists for not addressing the “true rape epidemic” by Middle Eastern migrants and said, “rather than doing that, she [the feminist] aligns herself with those cultures as the supposed victims of white, Western, patriarchal tyranny. And that means that feminism has declared a kind of peace agreement with Islam.” Fiamengo has made similar arguments before, asking in 2015 whether there is “any group among progressives who might still refuse to become Sharia-compliant?”[19]

Another CAFE member and associate on their Multimedia Committee is filmmaker Steven Brulé. He created Studio Brulé to film and host various videos including the “Fiamengo File” series. He is the person who filmed and hosted the latest videos for Expand the Inquiry.

Brulé has used the website A Voice For Men (AVfM) to raise funds to have a film called The Red Pill screened in various locations. It is important to be aware that the Southern Poverty Law Centre (SPLC), a non-profit legal advocacy organization that specializes in civil rights and public interest legislation (cutting their teeth on civil suits against the Ku Klux Klan in the early 1980s) have identified AVfM as an openly misogynist website community.[20] Steven Brulé is also working on a biographical film about Paul Elam, the founder of AVfM. This is not CAFE’s first or only link to AVfM, as a former board member, Dan Perrins was the Canadian News Director for their website.[21] CAFE events have also been heavily promoted and covered by AVfM over the years.

A cursory examination of the histories and writings of a great number of CAFE leaders and members uncover similar attitudes and questionable ties to other outwardly bigoted organizations. Given the vulnerability of Indigenous peoples to systemic racism, these positions cannot be ignored.

In early December, 2016, the Mayfair theatre in Ottawa pulled its screening of The Red Pill and refunded CAFE their booking fee. Co-owner of the theatre, Lee Demarbre had heard that CAFE was spreading hate and homophobia on campus “but from the group’s online presence, he says he couldn’t find evidence that hate was their primary motive”. After theatre members and advertisers raised concerns, and the film was pulled, Demarbre says he received death threats from supporters of CAFE and the film. “All these women who said these guys spread hate and homophobia – now I’ve seen that it’s true.”[22]

This alignment by leaders and dedicated members of CAFE with self-proclaimed neo-Nazis and virulently misogynist organizations in order to pursue the shared causes of anti-feminism and Islamophobia is concerning. While CAFE’s website does not make these connections clear, and in fact attempts quite successfully to present a highly sanitized version of its core anti-feminist beliefs, it is not difficult to find these links. A major point I am attempting to make with this paper is that relying on the allyship and sponsorship of racist and misogynist groups is inherently compromising and cannot be viewed as a neutral act. CAFE’s alliances and connections with such organizations, as well as their own problematic behaviours, are not something that Indigenous people hoping to raise awareness of MMIMB should ignore.

Can a feminist be an MRA?

This leads me to Adam Jones, arguably the focal point for most of the media attention on MMIMB in the last few years. He has certainly received more sustained media attention in the last year and a half than any of the families of MMIMB who have been struggling for years to tell their stories.

A professor in comparative genocide studies, Jones has conducted no academic research on or with Indigenous peoples in Canada. Nonetheless, Jones says that a major theme in comparative genocide studies is the way in which Indigenous peoples around the world are vulnerable to imperial violence and genocide, so he believes he understands the issues.[23] Unlike CAFE, which at no time acknowledge racialization or colonialism in their analysis of violence against MMIMB, Jones does mention: “the white/European racism, hubris and obliviousness that continues to fuel the aboriginal social crisis and to prompt violence by whites/Europeans against aboriginal women and men.”[24] Whether his analysis is informed by any knowledge of the history of ongoing colonization in Canada is unclear.

Jones identifies as a feminist, and gives credit to the feminist movement for having “first placed the variable of gender on the table”.[25] This would seem to mean he cannot be an MRA, as that movement is defined by its anti-feminism. Nonetheless, even as a self-professed feminist, Jones engages in the same kinds of rhetorical tactics as MRAs. In particular, he mischaracterizes feminism, claiming that “feminists think gendered violence can only be the gendered violence that men inflict against women, not the violence that women inflict against women, not the violence that men inflict against men”.[26] This claim is not even remotely accurate, and is indeed a strange thing to assert when identifying as a feminist; if this were true, why would Jones be so interested in identifying this way?[27] If feminism really were about “ignoring half of the human race” as he claims, wouldn’t he want to distance himself from such a theoretical framework? Jones never addresses this contradiction, and identifying as a feminist does serve the important function of making it much harder to name someone’s arguments as being anti-feminist.

Positioning men’s issues as being the fault of feminism is another MRA tactic. As Adam Jones put it in a 2015 National Post opinion piece, “the campaign to highlight the victimization and extermination of aboriginal women has become a feminist cause célèbre (including an aboriginal-feminist one), in a way that has suffocated consideration of even more pervasive patterns of violence among and against all aboriginal Canadians, including men and boys.”[28]

In making this claim, Jones does not demonstrate an understanding of the history of organizing around MMIWG. During an interview with Rosanna Deerchild, Jones made a similar assertion and was informed by Deerchild that the families of MMIWG, not “feminists” had been instrumental in raising awareness of the issue.[29] In fact, mainstream feminism had very little to do with raising awareness of MMIWG.

Giving credit where credit is due

Despite being characterized by Jones as a feminist issue, or one whose work is being done by women, for women, it has mostly been the families of MMIWG who searched for their loved ones, contacted the media, staged rallies, and began researching the numbers. It must be recognized that Ernie Crey, another leader of the Expand the Inquiry coalition, is one of those family members.

Unlike CAFE and Adam Jones, who have no history of advocacy for Indigenous peoples in Canada prior to the massive media attention advocates for MMIWG were finally able to garner on the issues, Ernie Crey has been a staunch supporter of MMIWG for many years, and has been very vocal about what he saw as impediments to there being a federal inquiry in the first place. As Crey explained in 2011:[30]

“Unfortunately, both Ottawa and the RCMP, especially the RCMP, seem to be shot through with an endemic case of misogyny… with these old school attitudes towards women permeating both the halls of power in Ottawa and the RCMP, is it any wonder that aboriginal women’s advocacy organizations in the country sought the intervention of the UN to inquire into the disappearances and deaths of so many aboriginal women?”

In fact, a great many men both Indigenous and non-Indigenous, have been involved in organizing around MMIWG. Journalist Lindsay Kines began writing about women who had gone missing along the infamous Highway of Tears, as early as 1995. He started covering disappearances from the Downtown Eastside (DTES) of Vancouver in 1997. When Kines realized the issue was bigger than one missing woman, he set up a toll free tip line to tackle the issue. He is widely credited as creating the #MMIW hashtag, though he insists:

“I’d prefer to give the credit to the families and friends of the missing women for pushing the story forward. They kept insisting that something bad had happened to their loves ones, and their prodding kept me digging. Sadly, they were right all along.”[31]

Mainstream feminist organizations were not heavily involved in advocacy for MMIWG until very recently. While Indigenous organizations like the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) have struggled for decades to address the specific issues facing Indigenous women as well as their families and communities, many people within that organization do not identify as feminist.

The complexities of Indigenous feminism (or rejection of the term altogether) bear examination when we look for alternatives to MRA characterizations of MMIWG and MMIMB.

Indigenous feminism?

Mainstream feminism, in its various waves and iterations, is often associated with white women and their particular historical context, lacking analysis of class and racialization. As a result of this, diverse Black, Indigenous, and women of colour have distanced themselves from the term “feminism” by creating other terms for a gender analysis that includes the legacy of colonization and racialization, such as Womanism, and Indigenous feminism.

Others reject these terms altogether, arguing that within traditional Indigenous societies (as one example), gender equality was already a foundational principle, and mainstream feminism is incompatible with a restoration of those traditions.[32] However Indigenous women identify, as Indigenous feminists, or merely members of their specific Indigenous nation (with the implication that gender equality is something to be restored, not created anew), an analysis of gender that ignores the history of colonization in this country makes very little sense.

Discussing women’s issues in the context of ongoing colonial violence has not been easy. As Luana Ross puts it, “while Native women were ready to dialogue about sexism [in the 1980s], they were not ready to air their dirty laundry into the white women’s world… Native women were not about to turn their men over to a white criminal justice system.”[33] Grace Ouellette explains that Indigenous women who joined NWAC “became a part of this organization to challenge Canada’s colonial policy”, and that the need for such an organization arose because of the Canadian state’s specific exclusion of Indigenous women from Indigenous delegations to national conferences held by the federal government.[34]

Lisa Kahaleole Hall makes the connection between colonialism and gendered discrimination even clearer:

“The deliberate destruction of non-heteronormative and monogamous social relationships, the indigenous languages that could conceptualize these relationships, and the cultural practices that celebrated them has been inextricable from the simultaneous colonial expropriation of land and natural resources.”[35]

An analysis of violence against Indigenous women or men, that does not explicitly take into account the way in which white supremacist heteronormative patriarchy has been a vital component of the colonial project, cannot be said to serve Indigenous peoples. To the contrary, in focusing solely on gender, the colonial project is bolstered through its invisibility. This is precisely why MRA groups, led mostly by white men, with their singular focus on women and feminism as “enemies”, are not the allies Indigenous peoples want, or need.

MMIMB don’t need MRAs as advocates

The shocking levels of violence faced by Indigenous men and boys cannot be explained by focusing on “feminism”, and the lack of attention that has so far been given to MMIMB cannot be blamed on Indigenous women. In fact, making this claim erases the labour of both men and women who fought against astounding indifference and hostility to have these discussions finally take place in mainstream society.

To swoop in, two decades after the fact, dictating terms based on flawed understandings of both the history of MMIWG organizing and of (Indigenous) feminism, is not helpful, nor is it allyship. Indigenous peoples need to be the ones leading the creation of any terms of reference that would include MMIMB (if that is something Indigenous peoples want this inquiry to do), without the interference of MRA groups. Especially when such groups are notorious for decontextualizing domestic violence statistics to downplay violence against women, and making false claims such as this one by CAFE spokesperson, Justin Trottier, who declared that “we’ve had many, many inquiries into murdered and missing girls and women; this isn’t the first one.”[36] As Stephanie Cram points out, there has been no federal or provincial inquiry that has ever considered the unique circumstances of MMIWG.

Theoretical frameworks that claim advocacy for women and girls has disadvantaged and harmed men and boys, is not something likely to mesh well with Indigenous worldviews that are in the main gender complementarian and non-adversarial. Not to mention the almost complete lack of analysis of colonialism as a factor in violence against Indigenous women and men. As well, Indigenous feminist frameworks already have space within which to examine the gendered nature of violence against Indigenous men, rather than merely examining the violence perpetrated by those men.

Indigenous masculinities offers a counterpoint to the adversarial approach taken by MRA groups. Indigenous masculinities is a field of research that “builds on theories and praxis of Indigenous feminist and queer scholars to question the hegemonic nature of the ‘masculine’”.[37] Specifically, Indigenous masculinities sees itself as engaging in “a broader practice of gender-based analysis in the service of decolonization”.[38]

Most importantly, Indigenous masculinities offers examples of positive masculinities being enacted in communities, rather than examining masculinity only through a lens of deficit. As Innes and Anderson put it, an important step (unlikely to be taken by MRAs) is to acknowledge:

“Indigenous men do benefit from male privilege…at the same time, many experience a level of victimization, violence, and subordination based on their race and gender that is similar, though manifested in different ways, to that of Indigenous women, and that the oppression suffered by both is tied to the colonization and acquisition of Indigenous lands.”[39]

Ernie Crey has said that he did not vet CAFE, or Adam Jones before accepting their allyship and sponsorship.[40] For an issue as important as MMIMB, “they came forward to help” cannot be the sole criterion on how such allyship and sponsorship is obtained. Certainly, activists and advocates of Indigenous issues have always struggled with a lack of funds and media attention and that is a live concern in these situations. However, alliances go both ways and we must question: who is being supported when Indigenous peoples are used to legitimize the involvement of groups like CAFE, with their ties to neo-Nazi and openly misogynist organizations, in a coalition attempting to influence the National Inquiry on MMIWG?

More importantly, who is harmed?

If these questions have no satisfactory answers, then friends like these are worse than no friends at all.

Edit: December 28th

The backlash from MRAs has begun. I will not be allowing their misognist and abusive posts to be approved and put up here. But I will screenshot them for a collection to show how supporters of CAFE and of Men’s Rights Activism behave when they are questioned. Please note that in addition to personal attacks, many of these comments are also incredibly racist against Indigenous ppl (and others). There is also a strong anti-LGBTQ sentiment involved, so read at your own peril!

The growing collection can be found on my twitter: https://twitter.com/apihtawikosisan/status/814115790182092800



[1] “Coalition for Missing Indigenous Men and Boys – YouTube.” Accessed December 15, 2016. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=trzSBHLLN4U.
[2] Rally Brings Attention to Missing, Murdered Aboriginal Men, Boys | Windspeaker – AMMSA.” Accessed December 15, 2016. http://www.ammsa.com/publications/alberta-sweetgrass/rally-brings-attention-missing-murdered-aboriginal-men-boys.
[3] Dragiewicz, Molly, and Ruth M Mann. “Special Edition: Fighting Feminism-Organised Opposition to Women’s Rights Guest Editors’ Introduction.” Journal of Women and the Law 28, no. 1 (2016).
[4] Innes, Robert. “RECENT STORIES – Indigenous Masculinities, Identities and Achieving Bimaadiziwin (IMB).” Indigenous Masculinities, March 2016. http://www.indigenousmasculinities.com/conversations.html.
[5] Spurr, Ben. “Men’s Rights Group Used Feminists’ Names on Charity Application.” NOW Toronto Magazine – Think Free, June 24, 2014. https://nowtoronto.com/news/story.cfm%3Fcontent%3D198600.
[6] Beeby, Dean. “Ottawa Taken to Court over Limits on Political Activity by Charities.” CBC News. Accessed December 16, 2016. http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/charities-political-activities-canada-revenue-agency-canada-without-poverty-charter-legal-1.3744919.
[7] Government of Canada, Canada Revenue Agency. “Policy Statement CPS-022, Political Activities,” September 15, 2003. http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/chrts-gvng/chrts/plcy/cps/cps-022-eng.html#politicalactivities6-2.
[8] “Leadership.” Canadian Association for Equality. Accessed December 16, 2016. http://equalitycanada.com/ohhZf.
[9] Shackleton, David. “MenWeb – Men’s Issues: Feminism Exposed.” MenWeb, 1999. http://web.archive.org/web/20160315180648/http://www.menweb.org/femexpos.htm.
[10] Shackleton, David “NO MA’AM: EOTM: The War Against Men.” NO MA’AM, 01 2005. http://no-maam.blogspot.ca/2005/01/eotm-war-against-men-by-david.html.
[11] Studio Brulé. “Why I Am An Anti-Feminist – The Fiamengo File, Episode 1 – YouTube.” YouTube, August 13, 2015. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XD65wnDGuTg.
[12] Studio Brulé. “Votes For Women – The Fiamengo File, Episode 3 – YouTube.” YouTube, August 27, 2015. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M_Ed2BIOHbQ.
[13] Solway, David “Reconsidering the Female Franchise.” American Thinker, September 13, 2016. http://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2016/08/reconsidering_the_female_franchise.html.
[14] Solway, David, and Janice Fiamengo. “What about Our Sons?,” March 15, 2016. http://www.artsandopinion.com/2015_v14_n6/solway-58hx.htm.
[15] Solway, David. “How To Defeat Terrorism.” PJ Media, July 22, 2016. https://pjmedia.com/blog/how-to-defeat-terrorism/.
[16] Janice Fiamengo to White Nationalist Talk Show Host: Men Are Living Under a ‘Feminist Version of Sharia Law.’” Angry White Men, September 28, 2016. https://angrywhitemen.org/2016/05/30/janice-fiamengo-to-white-nationalist-talk-show-host-men-are-living-under-a-feminist-version-of-sharia-law/
[17] “Andrew Anglin.” Southern Poverty Law Center. Accessed December 16, 2016. https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/extremist-files/individual/andrew-anglin.
[18] Radio 3Fourteen – Daily Stormer.” Accessed December 16, 2016. http://www.dailystormer.com/tag/radio-3fourteen/.
[19] Fiamengo. “Will Islamophiles Sell Out Their Dogs?” PJ Media, August 5, 2015. https://pjmedia.com/lifestyle/2015/8/5/will-islamophiles-sell-out-their-dogs/.
[20] “Misogyny: The Sites.” Southern Poverty Law Center. Accessed December 17, 2016. https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/intelligence-report/2012/misogyny-sites.
[21] Tremonti, Anna Maria. “CAFE’s Justin Trottier: Not All Men’s Organizations the Same.” The Current, March 19, 2015. http://www.cbc.ca/radio/thecurrent/cafe-s-justin-trottier-not-all-men-s-organizations-the-same-march-19-2015-1.3001331.
[22] “Why an Ottawa Theatre Pulled a Screening of a Men’s Rights Documentary | VICE | Canada.” Accessed December 5, 2016. http://www.vice.com/en_ca/read/why-an-ottawa-theatre-pulled-a-screening-of-a-mens-rights-documentary.
[23] “Dr.Adam Jones @ ‘Expand The Inquiry!’ – YouTube.” Accessed December 18, 2016. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kMMKTnbf2uk.
[24] Jones, Adam. “Full Comment: Adam Jones: Aboriginal Men Are Murdered and Missing Far More than Aboriginal Women. A Proper Inquiry Would Explore Both.” National Post. Accessed December 14, 2016. http://news.nationalpost.com/full-comment/adam-jones-aboriginal-men-are-murdered-and-missing-far-more-than-aboriginal-women-a-proper-inquiry-would-explore-both.
[25] Supra, note 23.
[26] Ibid.
[27] One has only to read a small selection of feminist writings on gender to realize that many feminists do indeed look at gendered violence as including violence of men against men and so on. For evidence of such try: bell hooks, We Real Cool: Black Men and Masculinity.; Judith Butler’s Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity.; and Michael Kimmel’s Angry White Men: American Masculinity at the End of an Era.
[28] Supra, note 24.
[29] Adam Jones. Are we ignoring missing and murdered indigenous men? Interview by Rosanna Deerchild, October 25, 2015. http://www.cbc.ca/radio/unreserved/tradition-authenticity-and-the-fight-for-indigenous-identity-1.3281731/are-we-ignoring-missing-and-murdered-indigenous-men-1.3284322.
[30] Freeman, Robert. “‘Misogyny’ behind Canada’s Missing and Murdered Native Women.” Chilliwack Progress, December 14, 2011. http://www.theprogress.com/news/135598688.html.
Given MRA attitudes towards the identification of misogyny or patriarchy as a cause of violence against women, it is highly unlikely that Crey’s new allies would agree with him on these points.
[31] Sterrit, Angela. “A Movement Rises.” OpenCanada, November 20, 2015. https://www.opencanada.org/features/movement-rises/.
[32] Grey, Indigenous Women and Feminism: Politics, Activism, Culture. From the Tundra to the Boardroom and Everywhere in Between: Politics and the Changing Roles of Inuit Women in the Arctic, pages 21-28
[33] Ross, Luana. “From the ‘F’ Word to Indigenous/Feminisms.” Wicazo Sa Review 24, no. 2 (Fall 2009): p.45.
[34] Ouellette, Grace J. M.  The Fourth World: An Indigenous Perspective on Feminism and Aboriginal Women’s Activism. Halifax: Fernwood Publishing, 2002. p.43
[35] Hall, Lisa Kahaleole. “Navigating Our Own ‘Sea of Islands’: Remapping a Theoretical Space for Hawaiian Women and Indigenous Feminism.” Wicazo Sa Review 24, no. 2 (Fall 2009): p.16
[36] Cram, Stephanie. “Men’s Stories Deserve to Be Told, but MMIW Inquiry Should Stay Focused on Women.” CBC News. Accessed December 19, 2016. http://www.cbc.ca/news/indigenous/coalition-expand-violence-against-indigenous-women-1.3896346.
[37] Supra, note 4.
[38]  Innes, Robert Alexander and Anderson, Kim eds. Indigenous Men and Masculinities: Legacies, Identities, Regeneration. Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press, 2015. p.5
[39] Ibid. page 11
[40] Supra note 36.
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17 Responses to With Friends Like These: Expand the Inquiry, but on whose terms?

  1. Kerri Wall says:

    Thank you so much for this.

  2. I am glad you wrote about this, and agree that CAFE is very problematic.

    I would think that actually including the known statistics that show Indigenous men are (roughly) three times as likely as Indigenous women to be murdered or missing, would help people contextualize this discussion a bit more…

    — One small point first:

    You claim that ‘feminism’ (is there only one?) is mischaracterized because it doesn’t define ‘gendered violence’ as men committing violence against women (or vice versa), but from my experience probably more than 95% of the time (and the people) discussing ‘gendered violence’ that is exactly (and exclusively) how they are using(/defining) the term.

    — Now main point (the rest of this comment):

    I have done a fair bit of work supporting efforts around MMIWG advocacy (over 8-9 years), but over the past 2-3 years have come to wonder why so little is done/ known about MMIMB (this is from before I knew of any MRAs having started advocating around it). You say who not to blame for the lack of awareness, but are there any thoughts around why MMIMB have been invisibilized so much longer than MMIWG, when at least by numbers it is a much larger problem.

    Just under two years ago, posted a facebook status:
    “reminded again last night of how the murder(/missing) rate in Canada for Indigenous men is higher than that for Indigenous women (they’re both very disproportionately high compared with rates for everyone else) … so why not a push for a national inquiry (or other solutions) for Missing and Murdered Indigenous People?”

    Most people who responded agreed that it was also a serious problem and worth addressing, but two people (one white man who worked professionally in engaging men against violence against women [3 of 4 responses below], and an Indigenous two-spirit person [second response below]) were ready to challenge my even asking such a question.

    First, the statistics were challenged (this was before stats can released official stats fall 2015) that Indigenous men weren’t actually murdered or missing as much.

    Then, “My question is why you as an ally are consistently trying to derail and undermine decades of Indigenous organizing with your “what about the men” MRA bullshit.”
    – I take issue with the ‘consistently’ as I’d posted about it all of once previously

    And, “If indigenous men are not pushing and asking what about the men, and are supporting mmiw movements, why are white dudes?
    I’ll be honest bud we’ve had some frank discussions about men experiencing violence, and its something I’m passionate about, but when it uses vaw movements as a reference point it does smack of MRA propaganda.”

    And “Addressing men’s issues isn’t what makes it sound like MRA bull, though. Its the constant need to coop or change women’s advocacy and movements to accommodate them. If men want men’s issues addressed, do it without women’s movements as your reference point.

    I do agree that making the inquiry about all Indigenous people is not necessarily the best or only solution (and keep in mind this question was posed before the current government was elected, so there was no actual inquiry at that point; and also, it was a question, open to (respectful) discussion with the main thrust about how do we address MMIMB).

    But even as someone who’d done a fair bit of (non-Indigenous and Indigenous) ‘feminist’ or ‘women-centred’ activism, including on MMIWG, to raise this issue at all – and make connections to things that would seem are connected, ie the common factors of being Indigenous in a colonized Canadian state – my comments got tagged as “MRA bullshit”, even though they’re not blaming feminism or women for anything.

    Of course that’s a simplification and these issues could be discussed at length in a good way, but the ‘MRA’ thing seems to be used to discount any discussion of issues that affect men differently/disproportionately more than women.

  3. I agree with everything in this post. So, without prejudice, allow me to remind folks that 2 boys from the Chippewas of Nawash Unceded FN went missing way back in October 1993. They remain missing. Shawn Jones would be 37 now. And Leslie Jones would be 39. https://web.archive.org/web/20040814110028/http://www.bmts.com/~dibaudjimoh/page126.html.

  4. What does, Long in the Tooth, means? If I got it right, then all he had to say they are liars, long winded liars. Create a WORD to signify that they are liars. I know, LIAR.

  5. bannockrob says:

    To the first point, “anon in lieu of backlash” : Though including the statistics of murdered and missing men (which are in fact much higher) would have given some context as to why some ppl have in the last couple of years have asked about ‘what about the men?’ it really is not necessary in the context of a piece exploring the implications of partnering with MRAs in calling to expand the inquiry. To the second point: the issue of gendered violence is not confined to only male violence against women. However, the reality is is that women face a higher rate of violent victimization from men than men face from women, therefore it is an issue that really should be raised. To the third point: the reaction of some to you asking the question is too be expected and not taken as a slight to you personally. There are many cases in which men, or those advocating for men, who have presented men’s issues as more pressing then women’s. Also, for a long time women and queer advocates have had to work extremely hard to have their concerns heard (note how long it took for the issue of MMIW to become a national conversation). They have had to work hard because they have been ignored and silenced by men (primarily, though not exclusively). In other words, there is a lot of distrust that someone saying ‘what about the men’ will force issues about women and queer people to the sidelines. So, it is more crucial for those who want to advocate for men to be cognizant of this distrust and work to (re)build it and not to get defensive when concerns are raised.

  6. Thank you again, Chelsea for speaking out and directly to the point. I’ve replied to some comments in recent story demands that the MMiW & MMIWG are behaving unfairly by excluding the men and boys, but it does not allow for as detailed and informed comment as yours here.

    Not once have I heard any of our work for MMIW state the exclusion of men and boys. However, what is especially irritating is these same people who now cry foul forget the very basic point, which is that the entire MMIW/G movement was begun by the families of the missing, of which the majority speaking were the women of the families. It was they who slogged and did all the heavy lifting – just like the Idle No More movement – to get the issue the recognition it deserves. As if there had been ‘feminism’ banners attached to any of it. What a ridiculous stance. And now, now when it’s got the degree of national attention that it does, these hangers-on want to make accusations of exclusion? Where were they from the very beginning?

    As for these fragile men who need to continue they’re patriarchal methods to hold women down, they are the same damned mentalities that were applied to most of our missing when telling us all what was really happening with our people, and none of it bad enough for investigation as far as they were concerned, These groups of ‘concerned’ can all go get stuffed. Their greatest fears are losing power and they work so hard to stifle any perception of others having it instead of sharing the work and the successes. I have no sympathy nor need of them. I hope most women will continue our own works of success and bypass these self-serving infiltrators of divide and smother.

  7. Thank you Chelsea for your research and writing here. An important history that allows us to see the intersectional connections with for instance Islamophobia.

  8. Pingback: With Friends Like These: Expand the Inquiry, but on whose terms? | Ecocide Alert

  9. KatsCauldron says:

    This is a text book method example of undermining action and change for the issues that are being fought for. Method of operation: get “involved” in something, grandstand & sidetrack to your own agenda then screw it up from the inside out while screamin notice poor pitiful me [very distinct male libertarian] & acting shocked when everything goes to hell in a vaudeville handbasket. Intentionally created drama and subversion. Bottom line there is no room for this group to be allowed involvement in a very serious situation that they can’t bring anything good to. Let another different group awareness get brought up for men and if just for indigenous men watch how fast they run away from any real work after paddling a while. The whole basis for the Cafe group [still think they stole the name from the insidious cafe moms] is the Mike Cerwhateveric claim of being abused by strong women destroying their lives until they fight back [one of which he took to the cleaners for over a million just to get rid of him like a common whore ] They are just the type that troll looking for vulnerable women to attack when they have lost a few more of their nuts and bolts.

  10. Once again important analysis. Will share.

  11. aerensiniac says:

    I wonder when people will grow enough intellectually to understand that feminism is the nadir of equality.
    Equality is humanism. Being equal in front of the law in every aspect, regardless of gender, color, ideology, beliefs.
    The notion that something like feminism, a concept which by its own fundamental definition splits up humanity into groups of gender is ridiculous. And then thats just the tip of the iceberg cause ofc pc and sjw culture goes usually hand in hand with which further splits them up into groups of skin color, then further splits them up into minorities and majorities, of sex, ideology, belief, the way the bind their shoelaces.

    Feminism is to equality what nazis were to world peace.
    We want equality for all, by doing away with all those cancerous other races, genders, groups we do not approve of.

    Call back once you’ve managed to hit the level of humanism with your koolaid about “equality”.
    As long as you cannot have everyone equally represented on a board about equality, get out of everyone’s sight and focus on developing a brain with intact basic functions.

  12. Fun fact.
    The movement cites my research but never credits me.

    When I discovered the numbers – natives are 5 times more likely than whites to die violently, men comprise 71% of the overall murders, I was pregnant with my son, who is Cree. He was born more vulnerable to violence than his brother and sister who are from my first marriage and white. I know this because I found the raw numbers, I computed the rates myself using them.

    It hurts to think about anything happening to my son or partner, but I believe it is important to know the truth, even when it is painful, if our end goal is to find a solution and I am very driven to do whatever I can to assist to this end.

    Thank you for writing about this. I see Vice has a piece as well. I believe that these discussions are important and necessary -I think that the message is far more important than the messenger at the end of the day, and it bothers me that male victims, and indigenous victims more often than not as a whole are not treated with the gravity and urgency as the dominant Articles like this one change that, so please continue to write them.

  13. i was cited in the Vancouver Sun, CBC, global, Ottawa paper National Post and Globe and Mail – I was always credited until CAFE took over. Today I saw an article in my local paper – the Edmonton Journal, where my father worked every day of his life as a pressman (so by day I mean night shift) that stated the Dr Jones, whom I have nothing but respect for, “complied” the data. No, he did not. He never to my knowledge has claimed that he did. I did, but I am actively feminist and my science advocacy often puts me at odds with many in this movement. I care about the victims. I care when they are male and female and in this instance I argue that the gender is not the issue, it is Indigenous status that is the risk factor.

    Stats Canada used the template I submitted to show change how murder is reported in Canada. My friend called and told me to check the news. I said which source, she said all of them, and sure enough the Murder Report was out and it had my numbers – Aboriginal women are 4-5 times more likely to be murdered, and Aboriginal people overall are almost 6 and a half times more likely to die by violent means. I was so happy that they had published the findings in their report I actually cheered. Then I realized I was celebrating that my unborn baby would be, by birthright, more vulnerable to not only suicide, which is firmly established by numerous studies,, but now homicide too. It hit me so forcefully I literally lost my breath.

    My son is perfect, and so happy and such a blessing. He is 7 months and I am expecting and due in May. I am not sure what I am having, boy or girl, but I know that the risk will remain nearly identical and that is not ok. I believe in expanding the inquiry, I trust that Dr Jones has this end goal firmly in his line of sight, but I am bothered by this groups refusal to invite me to participate in the discussion. I am clearly passionate about the topic and my interest is not for show. I have 3 reasons to want to see these numbers change.

    Final Note – I was assisted by a reported from the Star. He had some numbers on the disparity in terms of gender and when I found nothing on my own I contacted him. He would not allow me to see his source (I think he was not able to share because of his employer) but he pointed me to Stats Canada and explained that I could and should request the numbers via request. I did and am grateful that he gave me the nudge, without it I might have given up in frustration.

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