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Anthropology Student Draws Parallels Between Murdered Women in Canada, Mexico

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Canada is increasingly being forced to pay attention to the murder and disappearance of hundreds of aboriginal women over the past several years, cases that stand apart because they go unsolved and in many cases are in fact dismissed without more than a cursory glance because of supposed characteristics of the victims.

Now 21-year-old artist Brenda Garcia is drawing attention to the similarities between the crimes and the victims in the two countries, which have little else in common, the Lethbridge Herald of Alberta, Canada, reports.

"If another aboriginal woman goes missing, it's OK because they're aboriginal and that (attitude) is quite disturbing," Garcia said of what she sees as the prevailing attitude of authorities toward these crimes. "My hope is to create awareness because a lot of people don't know that all this violence against women is happening in Mexico and that it's also happening in Canada. There are a lot of parallels. It's the same crime and it's two different countries.”

Garcia has lived in both countries, born in Mexico City and moving to Canada with her family 10 years ago, the Lethbridge Herald said. She noted that in both countries, it’s the women’s poverty that gets them overlooked.

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The fourth-year anthropology student at the University of Lethbridge organized a weeklong series of events at the school last week to draw attention to the situations and their similarities. The highlight was a video-linked presentation by Garcia and a counterpart in Texas, journalist Diana Washington Valdez, who for years covered the Juarez murders for the El Paso Times. Garcia and Valdez were joined by Beverly Jacos, a past president of the Native Women’s Association of Canada, and women’s studies professor Joanne Fisk of the U of L, the paper said.

As Indian Country Today Media Network reported in December, one striking such resemblance lies between Canada’s Highway of Tears, a Vancouver stretch of road along which dozens of women have been murdered, and Mexico’s Ciudad Juarez, where hundreds of women have vanished or killed since the early 1990s, their mutilated corpses strewn in the desert.

ICTMN’s Valerie Taliman has reported on the situation in Canada and continues to cover the murders and events surrounding them, including an annual memorial march held by families and supporters of women whose cases are unresolved.

"Poor women are the ones that authorities don't pay attention to,” Garcia told the newspaper on March 8. “They're almost seen or looked at as being worthless. That's the whole mentality: they don't matter, so if they go missing, it's OK because they're poor and they're really not contributing to society.”