Missing and Murdered
Micheal Langan, creator and owner of Colonialism Skateboards finished the Artist and Residence at the University of Regina in 2019, working closely with art students at Scott Collegiate creating skateboard graphics with historical significance. There were a number of images made with the students for this residency, and Karlee Kline's skateboard was voted to go into production. Karlee skateboard takes a look into Missing Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) in Canada and the stolen children through the Residential School system and now child welfare system. Here is what she had to say about her artwork:
In the middle of the board, I painted a missing poster for three Indigenous women. It was themed to look as if it had been painted in the eighteenth or nineteenth centuries. The base colour is meant to resemble the buffalo. The buffalo was used for everything. I also painted a silhouette of a landscape of what all the people and what tipis would have looked like in their communities back in the day. At the top, I kept the original base colour, then going in with red paint I wrote “Missing” as well. The reason I painted my board this way is because I wanted to show the realities of what has happened and what continues to happen to Indigenous women and children. Indigenous women go missing all too often, and a lot of times they are never found. I also wanted to show that Indigenous children were forcefully taken from their parents and sent to Residential Schools. I hope that viewers learn and educate themselves that these horrible injustices are still happening to Indigenous peoples. Indigenous women and children are still being taken and not coming back home. I hope people start to see that there is a way to stop this from happening. – Karlee
Released in 2019, the Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls reveals that the Canadian government’s policies, practices, and human rights violations are the direct cause of violence against Indigenous women, girls and Two-Spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex and asexual (2SLGBTQQIA) peoples. The Report states:
The violence the National Inquiry heard about amounts to a race-based genocide of Indigenous Peoples, including First Nations, Inuit and Métis, which especially targets women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people. This genocide has been empowered by colonial structures, evidenced notably by the Indian Act, the Sixties Scoop, residential schools and breaches of human and Indigenous rights, leading directly to the current increased rates of violence, death, and suicide in Indigenous populations. – A Legal Analysis of Genocide
In Canada, the racism, sexism, patriarchy and oppression experienced by Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA on a daily basis can be traced back to the fur trade era in the late 1600’s. Reports of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls are deeply rooted in colonial policies dating back hundreds of years. The deliberate attack and extermination of Indigenous Peoples has been carefully orchestrated throughout Canada’s existences with the help of the NWMP/RCMP and government officials. There are several significant Calls for Justice in the MMIWG Final Report. Colonialism Skateboards encourages everyone to read the report and reflect on what you can do to help educate people and address these human rights violations.
Karlee also mentions the Residential School system in her painting. Indigenous children have been taken away for their families since the 1800’s. Within the Residential School system, Indigenous children were subject to cultural genocide, were forcibly separated from family, forbidden from practicing their cultural and spiritual traditions, and oftentimes subject to horrendous treatment, and even death. While there are some positive student accounts, overwhelmingly Residential School survivors recount experiences of inadequate education, loneliness, hunger, illness, as well as physical, sexual and mental abuse and violence. St. Anne's Indian Residential School in Albany, Ontario, for example, represents the extent to which these hardships were endured, where this particular institution was equipped with an electric chair for disciplining and torturing students. Not surprisingly, more than 6,000 Residential School student deaths have been documented by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, and it is assumed even this figure falls short of the real outcome. According to CBC News, by these estimates, the odds of dying for children in Residential Schools were higher than the odds of dying for Canadians serving in the Second World War.
Although the last Residential School closed in 1996, Indigenous children continue to be forcefully taken away from their families through the child welfare system. Canada’s staggering rates show that there are more Indigenous children in government care than at the height of the Residential School system. While Indigenous Peoples make up 2% of Canada’s population, the former auditor general Sheila Fraser revealed that Indigenous children are eight times more likely to end up in the child welfare system than non-Indigenous children. Time after time, these colonial institutions and governments have shown that their policies have lethal impacts on Indigenous Peoples and their communities when they construct unilateral and paternalistic government policies. The Canadian government must work with Indigenous peoples on fixing these devastating issues