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The Government Of Canada Added A Trigger Warning To Its Website

"This website deals with topics which may cause trauma to readers due to its troubling subject matter."

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The federal government has added a trigger warning on the section of its website devoted to the upcoming inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.

screenshot / Via aadnc-aandc.gc.ca

"This website deals with topics which may cause trauma to readers due to its troubling subject matter," the note on the Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada page reads.

"The Government of Canada recognizes the need for safety measures to minimize the risks associated with traumatic subject matter."

It also offers a toll-free crisis hotline for anyone who "is triggered and needs help or support while reading the content on this website."

1,181 Indigenous women and girls went missing or were murdered between 1980 and 2012, according to the RCMP — a homicide rate that is 4.5 times higher than for non-Indigenous women in Canada.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson

The trigger warning was included when the website launched in early December. But it didn't come to wider attention until it was picked up by Reddit users.

"Triggering" has its roots in clinical psychology, but trigger warnings have become widely used online to flag disturbing or graphic materials that could impact people with previous traumatic experiences.

A spokesperson for Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada said the trigger warning was similar to a warning that was included on website of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which investigated abuses in Indian Residential Schools.

The federal government "recognized the need for safety measures to minimize the risks associated with traumatic subject matter," INAC spokesperson Valérie Hache told BuzzFeed Canada.

The crisis line, Hache added, is managed by an Aboriginal-owned and operated business in Ottawa.

"The crisis line is staffed by the same health support workers who respond to calls from former students of Indian Residential Schools. These health support workers have years of experience dealing with issues related to violence and abuse and have access to provincial and regional support services," Hache said.

Reaction to the government's trigger warning has ranged from derision to appreciation.

Reddit

"We are turning into a meme nation," one redditor warned.

Others, though, said that trigger warnings had more to do with PTSD than with appeasing social justice warriors.

Meanwhile, some are just happy the debate about trigger warnings is ending, at least as far as the government is concerned.

The new website for #MMIW opens with a trigger warning! Relieved that "debate" is over & new wave of change embraced https://t.co/Gob2eewq4M

Ishmael Daro is a social news editor for BuzzFeed and is based in Toronto.

Contact Ishmael N. Daro at ishmael.daro@buzzfeed.com.

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