(This post is NOT about reading deficits.)
Reclaiming Power and Place
Here are EPUB and MOBI versions of the Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG). These versions are suitable for reading on a phone, tablet, or portable book-reader.
Download the EPUB version HERE.
Download the MOBI (Kindle) version HERE.
The original PDF versions are found at the National Inquiry’s website: https://www.mmiwg-ffada.ca/
Read the Report
The Commissioners implored us to read the report, in its entirety. They said so in their introductions, in recommendations, in the report’s Calls for Justice, and in subsequent press conferences. The starting point for learning and understanding is to… read the report.
“We invite you to read … with a view to the big picture, as well as with a view to engaging your own beliefs and relationships – whether you are a survivor, a family member, an ally, or a non-Indigenous person. “
But reading this report is almost impossible. The Final Report weighs in at 1,500 PDF pages. PDFs are intended to be printed, they are almost unreadable on portable devices and exhausting even sitting at a desk with a computer. The fonts are always the wrong size (usually much too small), lines are too wide, and the reader has to scroll up and down multiple columns.
I tried to read this report but was quickly frustrated by the PDF format. I hunted for an EPUB version without success. I wrote to the Hon. Carolyn Bennett (the Minister for Crown-Indigenous Relations, who also happens to be my Member of Parliament) asking if one existed or could be created, and got no answer. So I ripped the text out of the PDFs and created this version myself.
The EPUB and MOBI version contains the text of the Final Report (both 1a and 1b), plus the supplementary reports on Genocide (more about below) and on Quebec, optimized for easy reading. Basically everything, except…
The National Inquiry’s PDFs contain exquisite photos, elegant typography, meticulous footnotes, and an extensive bibliography. All that has been removed, only the Commission’s words remain, formatted to be as easily readable as possible. Dropping the footnotes was regrettable, but they litter the text, often three or four in a single paragraph. Worse, they become hyperlinks in an EPUB, little landmines that send you flying when you swipe carelessly to the next page. Photos are a problem on many devices.
So only the words. Still, there are a lot of words, about equivalent to a 900-page novel. You are not going to finish this report in an afternoon. Nor should you. Find 30 minutes a day to turn off distractions and read this report. A slower approach also gives time to reflect on what you read.
The advice I give friends is to skip the Preface and start with Chapter 1. Front materials take about 95 pages in PDF, mostly Commissioners and participants reflecting on the amazing journey they have completed. Start at Chapter 1, and return to the Preface after you have finished the report.
Reading on your Phone
To read an EPUB document on your phone, you need an app. My favorites are Overdrive and Libby, both of which also can borrow books from my local public library. You will need to install one of them from the app store appropriate to your phone before you download the EPUB link at the top of this page. More info here: https://www.overdrive.com/
If you use a Kindle, then you should use the MOBI version of the report.
The National Inquiry found that Canada’s behavior towards Canada’s Indigenous people was and is Genocide under both Canadian and International law.
Newspapers and politicians across the spectrum jumped to reject and denounce this finding, although clearly none of them had read the report. Prime Minister Trudeau vowed action on the Commission’s recommendations but skated carefully to avoid endorsing this finding.
The National Inquiry provided a supplementary report on Genocide, which is included in this version. It reviews the legal frameworks for Genocide and maps Canada’s behaviors onto them. It is a careful legal argument that complements the testimony and research of the Final Report.
Of course, it is just an argument, and “genocidal Canadians” is not how we like to think of ourselves. Read the report and reflect, then decide whether you agree.
Canada is quite uncomfortable with the word “genocide.” But genocide is what has happened in Canada and the United States for First Nations people. What else can you call it when you attack and diminish a people based upon their colour of their skin, their language, their traditions, remove them from their lands, target their children, break up the family? How is that not genocide? And that’s the uncomfortable truth that Canada, I believe, is on the cusp of coming to terms with. And it’s going to take a lot of uncomfortable dialogue to get there.
Robert C. (Musgamagw Dzawada’enuxw First Nation),
Testimony, Vancouver, BC.
“Inaccurate and Misleading”
The last section of the Final Report is innocuously titled “Annex 1: Summary of Forensic Document Review Project”. Do not skip this section. Here’s my quick summary:
The RCMP systematically stonewalled the inquiry, defied subpoenas, promoted narratives they knew to be false, and misrepresented their actions (or more usually, lack of action). The actual practice of policing in Indigenous communities is even more problematic.
The commission was not allowed to “make specific findings of misconduct in respect to any identifiable person or organization”, but this section pulls no punches.