Book Review

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Connie Deiter

Just Another Indian
by Warren Goulding
Fifth House Ltd.
Calgary, Canada

His name is John Martin Crawford, and he is one of Canada’s most deadly serial killers. He callously raped and murdered four women and possibly more. His crimes have placed him in the company of David Berkowitz, Ted Bundy, and Paul Bernardo, but most people would not have heard of him. Why? Because his victims were Aboriginal women, argue Warren Goulding and others.

I don’t know which is more shocking to me, the fact that the Canadian public knows more about the birthday parties Karla Homolka attends while in prison, or that they don’t know the name John Martin Crawford.

Goulding is a long time journalist in Saskatchewan. With this book he takes on a subject no one was interested in during the trial proceedings. Yet he writes a compelling chronicle of the killings, the investigation and the trials.

The 220-page book begins with asking questions of the media. Why were the murder investigation and subsequent trials not front-page news, carried with he same righteousness as the Paul Bernardo case?

One local Saskatoon columnist answered that it was because of geography, and the lack of drama. If this were Toronto, he argued, it would have been front-page news. According to him, racism was not one of the reasons.

As a First Nations woman raised in southern Saskatchewan, I find this response typical of the male white status quo in Saskatchewan. His attempts at justifying the silence around the killings is typical of those who don’t want changes to a system that keeps First Nations women marginalized, underemployed and living in poverty.

This book is a good read. It challenges you to examine racism, sexism, and power imbalances in our society. Justice Wright, in his final remarks of the trial, nailed all of this:

"It seems Mr. Crawford was attracted to his victims for four reasons: one, they were young; second, they were women; third, they were native; and fourth, they were prostitutes. They were persons separated from the community and their families. The accused treated them with contempt, brutality; he terrorized them and ultimately he killed them. He seemed determined to destroy every vestige of their humanity."

Goulding’s book gives back some of this humanity to Eva Taysup, Calinda Waterhen, Shelly Napape and Mary Jane Serion. He also challenges us to look inside ourselves, our families, and our communities for those elements that created John Martin Crawford.

Connie Deiter is a legal consultant, researcher, and lecturer at the University of Regina’s School of Journalism.