A Saskatoon judge is being criticized for saying a woman who was arrested for being intoxicated was a “prime candidate to become a missing Aboriginal woman.”
Two advocates say the comments by the Saskatoon provincial court judge were insensitive and case of victim blaming.
The comments were made inside provincial court on July 28.
The woman had been charged with breach of probation for possessing alcohol. Crown prosecutors said she was found lying on the ground out in front of an apartment that is on Appleby Drive, high on an unknown substance.
Speaking directly to the accused, Judge Brent Klause said “this is probably a long shot but have you heard about the commission for missing Aboriginal women?”
The accused said she did.
“You’re a prime candidate to become a missing Aboriginal woman with this lifestyle,” Klause then said.
The accused then replied: “I understand that.”
Comments insensitive: vice chief
Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations first Vice Chief Kimberly Jonathan said those comments were victim blaming and insensitive.
“We never blame the victim in any case,” Jonathan said.
“It is insensitive and this is the type of reality we deal with as Indigenous women on a daily basis.”
Jonathan said she understands that a women who is intoxicated, lying on the ground is at risk. But she says there is a need to show respect while understanding various risk factors.
“But there is a difference between identifying the problem, speaking the truth and being human about it. You don’t kick someone when they are at their lowest, when they are in your courtroom where you have full control,” she said.
Judge Klause declined comment. A court spokesperson said judges don’t comment on matters in court.
‘It’s stereotyping and victim blaming’
Darlene Okemaysim-Sicotte, a longtime advocate for missing and murdered Indigenous women, said it’s a good thing the judge was aware of the inquiry and trying to help, but that his comments were inappropriate.
“Basically, it’s stereotyping and victim blaming,” Okemaysim-Sicotte said.
‘Basically, it’s stereotyping and victim blaming.’
– Darlene Okemaysim-Sicotte
She said the question implies that the onus for preventing crimes against Indigenous women is on the women themselves, not the perpetrators.
“I don’t know that’s the way to go about it. Signalling out someone who is already vulnerable. When you are just taking a a little jab at a vulnerable…