This will be the first in a series of blogs by Michelle Stewart who will be exploring the issues raised in this blog by thinking about the anthropology of policing in the context of a settler state. Michelle is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Justice Studies at the University of Regina where she teaches the social justice stream and investigates health disparities, often racialized, in relationship to the justice system and the state.
In the past week and a half there has been a wave of stories out of Winnipeg that shine a spotlight not only on police practices but larger questions about the ongoing legacies of colonialism, structural violence and institutional racism that play out in this settler nation. More specifically, I am talking about Tina Fontaine as her case returned to the headlines last week with the sentencing of her father’s killers; and an admission by Winnipeg police that officers saw the missing teen and did not take her into protective custody—it is believed she was murdered shortly thereafter.
I will state here, at the outset, that I am not writing this article to blame these police officers for Tina’s death. On the contrary, I am writing this to join many other voices that are pointing out the need for systemic change in Canada.