This is a blog dedicated to a personal interpretation of political news of the day. I attempt to be as knowledgeable as possible before commenting and committing my thoughts to a day's communication.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

The Disbelief and Agony of a Community

"It's disheartening to realize another child in the community [is the suspect]. There's a young man and his family affected by this. There's a multitude of relatives coming to grips with what happened."
"Resources should be available to [young people] to vent their anger and emotions in a different way."
"Unfortunately, violence seems to be escalating in our communities as a result of years of gross underfunding leaving little or nothing for children to do. There is no more time to wait."
Sheila North Wilson, grand chief, Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak First Nations

"[A 15-year-old boy has been charged in the] absolutely senseless and horrific [killing]. Again, thank you. You [community] truly have helped us bring resolution to this terrible, terrible tragedy."
RCMP Superintendent Paulette Freill

"There has been fear [for] almost a year in Garden Hill. People were fearing because they had no idea what was going on, if this person was still out there."
"We are going to pull together and do this together, to help the family members and help the community."
Garden Hill First Nation Chief Arnold Flett
Teresa Robinson
A 15-year-old boy has been arrested and charged in the death of 11-year-old Teresa Robinson. (Facebook)

A year ago the dreadfully mangled remains of an 11-year-old girl, Teresa Robinson, were found after an extensive search for her whereabouts. The girl had left a birthday party in Garden Hill, a remote community roughly 600 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg, Manitoba, a community so remote that approach is by plane. She was never seen alive again after leaving that party. Days afterward her decomposed remains were discovered in a wooded area.

Her body was so horribly mauled and mangled the first impression was that she had been killed by a bear. It was only later that evidence closely examined bore witness that she had been murdered by human agency. But no clues and no evidence was discovered to disclose who it might have been who had murdered the child. Her family and her community demanded the case be resolved. Police finally attempted something different, to gather voluntary DNA samples from all the community's men and boys between the ages of 15 and 66.

The community and the public at large, hearing of the plan, was divided. Some condemned the plan as invasive and racist, while others felt that whatever protocol it might take to discover who had killed Teresa Robinson should be undertaken. And finally, when all the evidence was in and examined, it pointed to a 15-year-old boy in the community, and he was duly arrested. Details, however, have not been forthcoming.

It was revealed that up to two thousand DNA samples had been gathered in a first-time search of its kind. "Logic is there that forensics and DNA have a place in this case", RCMP Staff Sgt. Jared Hall revealed without committing to any more statements with "specific relevance". The motive for the killing or the relations between the accused and his victim were not discussed. Information is still being gathered from within the community.

Over 80 police were involved in the investigation, resulting in 400 interviews and many visits to the community. Superintendent Freill of the RCMP spoke of how the investigation had "affected every one of our officers deeply". According to Chief Wilson, many remote First Nations communities are inadequately policed, where the RCMP may visit as infrequently as two or three times a month.

Which, in a manner of thought, speaks volumes about those close-knit communities. Many First Nations communities have the services of their own aboriginal police forces to maintain public order. But the usual response of First Nations leaders when some tragedy occurs within their communities is to lash out at the federal government and the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs for not adequately funding special programs for their communities.

What may be more to the point is why would those communities not be prepared to furnish for themselves law and order commitments to ensure that within their boundaries the kind of respect and care that First Nations forever claim they are uniquely engaged in, take force?

When young aboriginal men, university-educated, and emerging as the new leaders of their communities, outspoken and intellectually resourceful, like journalist-politician Wab Kinew are revealed to have indulged in crassly insulting statements demeaning First Nations women and others, how can teens looking to them for guidance, act otherwise?

Wab Kinew tweets

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