Canada’s murdered and missing native women

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Photos from the annual Women’s Memorial March in Vancouver, Canada taken in 2010. Credit: Kim Kim.

“In the last 30 years, more than 1,100 Aboriginal women have been killed or have disappeared in Canada.”

This was the gripping subheading of journalist Jane Gerster’s now successful crowdfunding campaign. Her campaign on Beacon Reader finished last week, raising $5,075 from 81 contributors, a mixture of one-time donations and recurring subscriptions with the largest donation totaling $500.

A freelancer who regularly deals in matters related to indigenous peoples, health and human rights, the missing women had been on Gerster’s radar for a while.

She started her campaign “…after reading so many pieces about missing and murdered Indigenous women in the last six months alone, I knew that’s what I wanted to report on,” she said.

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“There’s a story every day in Canadian news about Indigenous issues whether it’s a woman gone missing or murdered, racism against Indigenous people, or protests demanding a public inquiry, but the response from officials and non-Indigenous Canadians is largely inadequate,” Gerster told Through the Cracks.

Similar trends occur in the United States where Native American women, more than any other ethnic group, are victims of rape and violence, according to the FBI.

Gerster pledged to use money raised from her campaign to travel across Canada and immerse herself in the issue to explore the root of the problem and possible solutions.

All expenses will be shared with her funders and the public.

“As a journalist, I’m accountable for everything I write. As a crowdfunded journalist, I feel I’m also accountable for showing how I use my donors’ support to write this story. That’s why I’ll be disclosing my monthly expenses on the site,” she said.

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This was Gerster’s first-ever crowdfunding campaign.

She credits her success to first identifying a “really important” topic, and then practicing the crowdfunding pitch on friends and family before submitting it to Beacon. These same friends and family later became donors when recruited by her Facebook campaign page.

 

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Justin Cooper
Justin is currently pursuing his Master’s degree in American Literature at San Diego State University (SDSU). He has served as an editor of the Southwestern College Sun and a senior staff writer for the Daily Aztec at SDSU.

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