In her article, “Gendered racial violence and spatialized justice: the murder of Pamela George”, Razack (2000) analyzes the trial of two white men, Ternowetsky and Kummerfield who brutally murdered Pamela George, a First Nations woman from Saskatchewan.

Razack (2000) unpacks the racist and colonial implications of the trial and its outcome, challenging the assertion that race was not a factor in this decision.  Through her analysis, Razack (2000) exposes the naturalization of violence in the social space of Aboriginal womanhood as well as the naturalization of violence and colonial brutalization inflicted on Aboriginal women by white men (Hanson 2012).

Pamela George
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Pamela George was a First Nations woman and a mother who occasionally worked in the sex trade to support her two children.  The men who murdered Ms. George were white, middle class, university athletes that occupied a privileged social location. Razack (2000) argues that Ms. George was considered by those involved in the trial to belong to a place where violence occurs routinely and to have a body that is routinely violated.

During the trial, George was dehumanized as a gendered and racialized other. Her involvement in the sex trade resulted in the common assumption that “prostitutes are considered in law to have consented to any violence that is visited upon them” (Razack 2000, p.93). Ms. George’s degradation allowed the defendants to confirm their own identities as white males entitled to land and the full benefits of citizenship (Razack 2000, p. 93).  The two men were heard speaking openly about the killing, making remarks such as “She deserved it. She was Indian.” (Bourgeault,1997). 

Although Ms. George’s poverty and location in the inner city area clearly worked against her, it was the erasure of her racial and historical locations that were particularly damaging according to Razack (2000).   The killing of Pamela George by Ternowetsky and Kummerfield was not an isolated act of violence but can be linked to the climate of racism and white supremacy that continues to exist within Canada.

The verdict of manslaughter in this case was highly criticized by Indigenous leaders who argued “that the jury’s failure to find the two men guilty of first-degree murder means the justice system has again failed aboriginal people” (British Columbia Report 1997). The trial’s outcome provoked antiracist, women’s and Aboriginal organizations to organize and speak out against the trial. Demonstrations, vigils and public accusations were made about race and class bias in the justice system. The verdict led some leaders in the Aboriginal community to assert that there were two justice systems: “one for whites and the other for Indians” (Bourgeault 1997).