The media this week all across Canada is filled with touching tributes to Loretta Saunders and her work. Some of these articles are trying to straddle a fine line between honouring Loretta’s memory and asking why Loretta is really, in my memory, the first Indigenous woman in Canada who went missing/was murdered to be getting this kind of media attention.

There’s nothing wrong with pointing out that indeed, the media in Canada does have a serious problem when the only Indigenous woman whose disappearance/death they decide to turn into a national news item is an attractive young college student who had blonde hair and whose Inuk heritage might not be immediately recognized to a passerby. But there is something seriously wrong with the way I’m seeing it being clumsily framed. Instead of calling out the media on why exactly Loretta was chosen to be the one Indigenous victim of disappearance and murder represented on a national scale and whose name has become known across Canada, I am seeing stories which play a weird, creepy game of victim valuing. Among other things, there’s a strange implication that Loretta is getting coverage because she was exceptional among Indigenous victims of disappearance and murder because she wasn’t a sex worker, wasn’t homeless, and wasn’t a drug user. 

I can’t tell if that framing is intentional, or just journalists clumsily trying to explain the phenomenon they themselves are a part of, but either way, I find it unforgivably tasteless.