We’ve come a long way … really?

Why in this day of "equal opportunity" so many women can not enjoy the simple freedom of personal safety.

It is hard not to wonder sometimes, why in this day of “equal opportunity” so many women can not enjoy the simple freedom of personal safety.

Recently, when I saw the release by the RCMP of the open case of young Bonnie Joseph, still missing five years after her disappearance, I cried.

Bonnie Joseph shares the first name of a beloved cousin, Bonnie Louie who died at 18 years old, five years ago next month.

While the two incidents are not related and not similar in so many ways, they are similar in that they are both young, independent First Nations women who their families miss dearly and who made regrettable choices.

It was also the second missing young woman from Fort I have had the misfortune of reporting on in only two weeks time. Stephanie Gagnon, a young woman just graduated from Fort St. James Junior Secondary School had also been reported missing last month, but was luckily found safe.

Many have not been so lucky. Madison Scott still remains missing, with so many questions about her disappearance from Hogsback Lake.

Young Loren Leslie, killed and dumped on a back road. These tragedies are so unnecessary and yet for such small communities, shockingly common.

While the fate of Bonnie Joseph is still unknown, I could not help but imagine she may have gotten into a vehicle with the wrong person, not a far-fetched notion along the Highway of Tears.

Why can we not protect our young women? While I imagine most people would think  women who hitchhike alone are fools for what they do or the choices they may have made, I don’t.

Instead, while I lament their choices, I also am saddened by the fact we blame their choices, which, while easier to control, are not the root of the problem.

We have all made poor choices at some point, and while they may not have seemed as risky as hitchhiking alone, they had risks. Some of us were just luckier than others.

In a world where we work towards equal opportunity employment and equality in education and pay, we still have men who prey on women, and the problem is not the women.

When we can send out our daughters alone as fearlessly as we send out our sons on their own, then perhaps we can say choices are what made the difference.

We may not like how some women dress, speak or get from point A to point B, but in no way does this somehow make it understandable they are preyed upon.

These women are daughters, sisters and mothers.

They are people, and they must be treated as such.

It is hard for me to understand the apathy in society to such things.

Maybe with stars like Eminem singing about killing the mother of his child, it is not surprising.

Society seems to value Eminem and others like him more than we do our mothers, sisters and daughters, and maybe when as a society we can come together to say this is wrong, maybe then can we have hope for those young women.