Violence against women, and certainly violence against Indigenous women, is rarely understood as a human rights issue. When governments, media and the general public consider violence against women, it is often described as a criminal concern or a social issue. It is both of those things, of course. But it is also a human rights issue.
Indigenous women and girls have the right to be safe and free from violence. When a woman is targeted with violence because of her gender or Indigenous identity, her fundamental rights are abused. And when state authorities do not offer her adequate protection because of her gender or Indigenous identity, those rights are violated.
CALLS FOR JUSTICE
The contents of the Call to Action outline the steps necessary to end one of the worst and ongoing genocides in Canadian history that are being committed against Indigenous women, girls, and gender-diverse people. Detailed are the 231 Calls for Justice formulated by the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls that were established by the federal government in 2016.
The National Inquiry issued its final report on June 3, 2019. These legal imperatives are the wide ranging and well-considered results of two and a half years of work on the part of Chief Commissioner Marion Buller and her fellow Commissioners Michèle Audette, Brian Eyolfson, and Qajaq Robinson. They are responses to the truths shared by more than 2,380 family members of victims, survivors of violence, experts, Elders, and Knowledge Keepers during cross country public hearings.
They are the measures that must follow the National Inquiry’s affirmation that persistent and deliberate human and Indigenous rights violations and abuses are the root cause behind Canada’s staggering rates of violence against Indigenous women, girls, and gender-diverse people. We, at the Native Women’s Association of Canada, want to thank the Commissioners for their work, for these Calls for Justice, and for the finding that the violence that is being perpetrated against us and against our mothers, daughters, sisters, and aunties is, in fact, a genocide.
To read the entire Calls for Justice document, click on the image.
The Strong Women’s Song is credited to the Anishinabe kwewag and Zhoganosh kwewag who were in solitary confinement in the Prison For Women in Kingston, Ontario during the 1970’s.
It was these women who had this song come to them. This song emerged as a way of staying alive, of supporting each other in terrible conditions. Many women in P4W lost their lives because of the horrendous conditions there.
We sing this song to honour them, and all women.
HEALTH CENTRE AND COMMUNITY INITIATIVES
ATLOHSA SACRED FIRE
On this day we gather to remember, honour, and raise awareness for those murdered or missing. All are welcome for activities, sacred fire, and feast.
LOCATION: Wampum Learning Lodge, 1137 Western Road
TIME: 9 am to Noon, drop-in.
RSVP: If attending, and willing to share your ride with others or in need or a ride, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
LUNCH & LEARN DOCUMENTARY PRESENTATION
In Canada, indigenous women are six times more likely to die violently than white women. The Highway of Tears is an endless road in the province of British Columbia, where women and girls have disappeared since the 1970s, at least 19, but unofficially estimated at over 40. Most of them belonged to the indigenous population. They do not stand alone but are said to be the result of more than a hundred years of colonial policy, whereby indigenous children were snatched from their families to be placed in boarding schools. Boarding schools that had to destroy ‘the Indian in the child’, but in many cases irreparably damaged the child itself. Practices that took place well into the 1990s.
Join us for Highway of Tears: Where Women Go Missing in Canada as Emy Koopman speaks to family members of a girl who disappeared along the Highway of Tears twenty-five years ago and she discovers that the disappearances are still not a thing of the past. Opportunity for a discussion and a moment of silence to commemorate the lost lives will immediately follow the presentation. An outdoor commemoration will follow.
LOCATION: Main Floor Board Room (Dundas)
RSVP: For Health Centre staff and client guests. Please email email@example.com as seating is limited.
N’AMERIND RED DRESS DAY
An opportunity for traditional songs in remembrance of lives lost.
LOCATION: N’Amerind Gym, 260 Colborne Street
TIME: 1:30 p.m.
RSVP: Not required. Short walk from the Health Centre.
HEALTH CENTRE COMMEMORATION & REMEMBRANCE
Join out outside where we will be flying commemorative red dresses, share information about the MMIWG+2S National Day of Awareness as well as traditional health care and medicines. This is an opportunity to chat with others, share your experiences, and remember lives lost to violence against women in Canada.
Please feel free to smudge with us.
LOCATION: Dundas Street Sidewalk
TIME: 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. for 30 minutes
RSVP: For Health Centre staff, clients and the general public
Documentary: Finding Dawn
This feature-length documentary addresses the ongoing epidemic of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls (MMIWG) across Canada. In the film, the family of Dawn Crey reflect on the days, weeks, and months following the discovery of Dawn’s remains on Robert Pickton’s farm, and what her life was like leading up to her death. Dawn’s DNA was one of 23 sets of women’s DNA found on the Pickton farm; however, not enough of it was found to have her listed as one of the victims at Pickton’s trial. Families of MMIWG who disappeared on the Highway of Tears and in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside also share their stories in the film.
Documentary: This River
Fourteen-year-old Tina Fontaine was pulled from Winnipeg’s Red River in 2014. Indigenous leaders from across Canada rallied to renew calls for an inquiry into the missing and murdered Indigenous women in Canada. As a result of this tragedy, the organization Drag the Red was formed by community volunteers. These men and women scour the river and its shores to search for clues about the missing. As members of this group, Kyle Kematch and organizer Katherena Vermette share their experiences of searching for a missing loved one.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZxHr5Ygs2g0
Wear Red. Be social.
Talk about it. Raising awareness is part of the solution.
Join the national campaign and wear red or one of our Health Centre MMIWG+2S buttons for the day.
Share a photo. Make sure to use hashtags #MMIW, #MMIWG, #MMIWG2S, #MMIWActionNow, and #NoMoreStolenSisters!
Is the MMIWG+2S crisis something that has just surfaced in recent years? What do you think are the reasons behind the tragic deaths of Indigenous women?
How would you describe colonialism, the Indian Act, residential schools, and the Sixties Scoop, and how have they shaped the lives of Indigenous women in Canada?
What can I do as a learner to change the way that I relate to Indigenous people?
REPORT BY THE NATIVE WOMEN’S ASSOCIATION OF CANADA
Aboriginal women and girls are strong and beautiful. They are our mothers, our daughters, our sisters, our aunties and our grandmothers, yet Aboriginal women face life-threatening, gender-based violence, and disproportionately experience violent crimes because of hatred and racism.
Certainly, family violence represents one of the most urgent issues impacting Aboriginal women. However, there is also a need for more research and awareness about other forms of violence—particularly violence perpetrated by strangers or acquaintances.
Community-based research has found levels of violence against Aboriginal women to be even higher than those reported by government surveys. There are many limitations to government-collected statistics.
We Are More than Murdered & Missing
With a talk that encourages hope, love, empowerment and igniting a new way of learning together as a nation, Tamara Bernard lays bare the world of violence impacting indigenous women. Wearing a high heel on one foot, and a moccasin on the other….we view things through her lens, where indigenous women are more than “murdered and missing”. Much more. Tamara is pursuing her masters degree in education at Lakehead University. Personally connected to her topic through her great grandmother, she has been speaking out about “Decolonization of Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women”, giving a voice to the voiceless.
Running for Missing & Murdered Indigenous Women
Rosalie Fish is an 18-year-old member of the Cowlitz Tribe and a competitive runner from the Muckleshoot Reservation in Auburn, Washington. She graduated this year from the Muckleshoot Tribal School, where she represented her school in the Class 1B Washington State Track Meet, earned three gold medals, a silver and a sportsmanship award, and used that platform to raise awareness for missing and murdered indigenous women (MMIW). Her passions include running, youth empowerment, indigenous visibility, upholding and practicing native traditions, as well as uplifting and advocating for native communities and native women. She is excited to share her work on MMIW with the TedXYouth @ Seattle community because, according to the Urban Indian Health Institute, Seattle leads the nation in MMIW cases. Recruited for her running ability and proven leadership Rosalie will attend Iowa Central Community College in the fall where she will continue her athletic career and her activism for MMIW. Rosalie Fish is an 18-year-old member of the Cowlitz Tribe and a competitive runner from the Muckleshoot Reservation in Auburn, Washington. She graduated this year from the Muckleshoot Tribal School, where she represented her school in the Class 1B Washington State Track Meet, earned three gold medals, a silver and a sportsmanship award, and used that platform to raise awareness for missing and murdered indigenous women (MMIW). Her passions include running, youth empowerment, indigenous visibility, upholding and practicing native traditions, as well as uplifting and advocating for native communities and native women.