In examining the depth and pervasiveness of the issue of missing and murder indigenous women (MMIW) in Canada, it is key to critically engage media involvement in the telling of these stories. Particularly, the tone, urgency and linguistic choices by mainstream media outlets can be reflective of the Conservative federal government’s policy of inaction and avoidance of the issue. Here, we have compiled two diverging word maps to explore and demonstrate these issues. Figure 1 demonstrates a compilation of articles and reports on MMIW, generally and specific cases, coming out of main stream, non-allied, non-indigenous authorship. Figure 2, conversely, demonstrates a compilation of articles and reports on MMIW coming out of allied, indigenous authorship. The purpose of the word map is to reduce mass pieces of texts/writing to their most commonly used terms and phrases to identify a theme or tone.
When one examines Figure 1, it is evident that themes of victim-blaming are strong. Also, it demonstrates that mainstream, non-allied, non-indigenous authorship tends to dehumanize the narrative, focusing on the brutality and effects of the issue and not the causes. On the other hand, Figure 2 demonstrates how indigenous and allied reports on the issue focus more on the causes, using terms like “colonial”, “gender” and “response”. The most vivid dichotomy between the two word maps is the presence of the term “indigenous” in Figure 2 and its absence in Figure 1. It leads one to ask; how effective are mainstream media reports on MMIW when thissue of indigenous identity is not addressed?