February 14th in Toronto – Ceremony as an Act of Sovereignty

February 14th in Toronto – Ceremony as an Act of Sovereignty

by Audrey Huntley

Audrey is of mixed settler (German/Scottish/Irish) and Indigenous (Anishnawbe) ancestry

No More Silence, a group founded in 2004 of allies and Indigenous women that aims to develop an inter/national network to support the work being done by activists, academics, researchers, agencies and communities to stop the murders and disappearances of Indigenous women, held Toronto’s 1st Annual February 14th Memorial for Missing and Murdered women in 2006. The Picton trial had just begun a month earlier and we had an urgent need to express our solidarity with the community of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside and the family members of the women killed on the farm.

Our first call out stated: “On February 14th we will come together in solidarity with the women who started this vigil 15 years ago in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, and with the marches and rallies that will be taking place across this land. We stand in defense of our lives and to demonstrate against the complicity of the state in the ongoing genocide of Indigenous women and the impunity of state institutions and actors (police, RCMP, coroners’ offices, the courts, and an indifferent federal government) that prevents justice for all Indigenous peoples. “

We choose to come together at police headquarters in order to highlight the impunity that Canada affords killers of poor and marginalized women – women not deemed worthy of state protection and Indigenous women targets of the genocidal policies inherent to a settler state. We do not ask for the state’s permission in doing so and instead honour the sovereignty of the Indigenous peoples that have shared the caretaking responsibilities of this land for thousands of years. Family members are given the opportunity to share and Wanda Whitebird (Bear Clan and member of the Mi’kmag Nation) leads the community in a strawberry and water ceremony. No More Silence chooses to practice ceremony in honouring our missing sisters both as an act of love for those who are gone and those who remain behind to mourn as well as an assertion of sovereignty. It is the group’s understanding that settler violence against Indigenous women is inherent to ongoing colonization and land theft. Indigenous women who are at the centre of our communities have always presented an obstacle to the colonial project as evidenced currently in their leadership of Idle No More.

Coming together as allies and Indigenous women No More Silence seeks to practice a decolonizing solidarity that we believe will be fundamental in shifting the power dynamics governing this land. This is why we look to ancient wisdoms such as the teachings of the Three Sisters in shaping how we work together for a better future – one that will honour all our relations and protect our mother – the land.

~ The Three Sisters ~

Once, Native people of this land were starving.

Then Three Sky Sisters came to live with them: Corn, Squash and Bean

Corn stood tall and straight in the fields around the village. Squash laid herself at Corn’s feet and protected her sister by keeping the soil moist. The third Sister, Bean, could make her own nourishment from the soil. But she was so weak and thin she could not support herself. So corn supported Bean as she grew up towards the sun, and soon they were all growing strongly together.

The people learned not only to plant the Three Sisters in the same soil, but also to work together and support each other.

Eight years later in 2013 No More Silence is joined by the Native Youth Sexual Health Network, Sistering and Camp Sis in our organizing. NaMeRes (Native Men’s Residence) staff will provide the food, cook and serve the feast following the ceremony.

Numerous Toronto organizations and agencies have endorsed the event including: Native Women’s Resource Centre, Anduhyaun Native Women’s Shelter, Aboriginal Student Association at York (ASAY), Ontario Aboriginal HIV Strategy, Ontario Federation of Labour, International Women’s Day Toronto Committee, Muskrat Magazine, Toronto Rape Crisis Centre/Multicultural Women Against Rape (TTRC/MWAR), Gathering Weavers, Christian Peacemaker Teams- Aboriginal Justice Team, Canadian Chiapanecas Justice for Women, Maggie’s Toronto Sex Workers Action Project, Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP), Metro Action Committee Against Violence Against Women and Children (METRAC), Indigenous Sovereignty and Solidarity Network, The Redwood Shelter, CUPE local 1281, Women and Gender Studies Institute at U of T (WGSI), International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network (IJAN), International Socialists, Health for All, Toronto New Socialists, Noone Is Illegal (NOII), Communist Party of Canada, Centre for Women and Trans at U of T CWTP, Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid, OPIRG Toronto and Students against Israeli Apartheid U of T, Educators for Peace and Justice (EPJ) & Rank and File Education Workers of Toronto (REWT), Canadian Coalition Against the Death Penalty, Rising Tide, United Jewish People’s Order-Toronto and the UJPO Social Justice Committee, Elementary School Teachers of Toronto (ETT), Sam Ginden Chair in Social Justice and Democracy Ryerson University.

Photographs by John Bonnar, Blogger and Podcaster at Rabble.ca

Sixteen cities and communities are now confirmed for Feb 14th Women’s Memorial Marches

National Co-ordination

Missing Person: Anita Richard aka Raven – Updated

A missing  person named Anita Richard also known as Raven is described to be between 16 and 26 years old, 5 ft tall and 115 lbs with long brown hair and hazel eyes. Raven was last seen on Feb 13 in Vancouver.

From the Vancouver Police Dept: “Raven had contact with many people before she disappeared and she was unwilling to share much more information than her name. Investigators need assistance in identifying or locating her to ensure her well-being….If Raven” is located, please call 9-1-1 and ask for police and ambulance to attend”

Anita’s family has indicated she has health concerns and requests the assistance from the public to contact police and/or ambulance if you know of her whereabouts.

Missing person: Lisa Marie Young

Nine years after Lisa Marie Young disappeared in Nanaimo, police are still investigating and asking anyone with information to step forward.

Read the full release by Nanaimo RCMP here.

If you have any information on what happened to Lisa Marie Young, please contact the Nanaimo RCMP at 250-754-2345 or call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477(TIPS). You can also go online at www.nanaimocrimestoppers.com and submit your tip and watch the Crime Stoppers re-enactment of her disappearance.

REEL CAUSES is proudly supporting the Women's Memorial March

REEL CAUSES is proudly supporting the Women’s Memorial March through its February Event & the screening of “Finding Dawn” & “Survival, Strength, Sisterhood: Power of Women in the Downtown Eastside”

When: Friday February 18th
Time: 6:30 pm
Where: Langara College – Room A130 , Langara College is accessible through Canada Line (7 mins walk), buses running on Main, 49th & Cambie. Free parking in the area and College Paid parking Lots.
Tickets : 10 $ RSVP info@reelcauses.org, 12 $ at the door.
100 % of what you pay goes to support Women’s Memorial March.

“Survival, Strength, Sisterhood: Power of Women in the Downtown Eastside”

A short film that documents the 20 year history of the annual women’s memorial march for missing and murdered women in Vancouver, Coast Salish Territories. By focusing on the voices of women who live, love, and work in the Downtown Eastside this film debunks the sensationalism surrounding a neighbourhood deeply misunderstood, and celebrates the complex and diverse realities of women organizing for justice. (32 mins)

“Finding Dawn”

Dawn Crey. Ramona Wilson. Daleen Kay Bosse. These are just three of the estimated 500 Aboriginal women who have gone missing or been murdered in Canada over the past thirty years. Directed by acclaimed Métis filmmaker Christine Welsh, Finding Dawn is a compelling documentary that puts a human face to this national tragedy. Finding Dawn illustrates the deep historical, social and economic factors that contribute to the epidemic of violence against Native women in this country. It goes further to present the ultimate message that stopping the violence is everyone’s responsibility. 2006, 73 min 29 s

Women’s Memorial March:

The Feb 14th Women’s Memorial March began after the brutal and tragic murder of a Coast Salish woman in Vancouver’s downtown eastside (dtes) at the end of January 1991. The particularly brutal nature in which she was murdered was the catalyst for women in the community who were fed up with the continued violence and murders of women. The women organized a march on VALENTINES DAY, a universal day that denotes an expression of love, togetherness & caring, they stopped at places women were murdered: red roses, cedar boughs and tobacco were left at each of the sites. Elders pay tribute to the women with a sage ceremony and prayers being offered.
Twenty years later the march continues, the ever increasing names to the memorial brochure is kept as a marker and stark reminder that much work has yet to happen to prevent and end violence against women in the downtown eastside.

Missing Vancouver Island teen’s cell phone recovered

Missing 18-year-old Tyeshia Jones is seen in this undated handout photo.

Date: Monday Jan. 24, 2011 2:18 PM PT

Mounties say they are increasingly concerned about the welfare of a missing 18-year-old after her cell phone was discovered outdoors Sunday morning.

Tyeshia Jones was last seen leaving a friend’s house party in the 5000-block of Miller Road in Duncan, B.C. some time around 2:30 a.m. Saturday.

Her friends say she was heading to a Real Canadian Superstore to meet a guy, but never showed up.

Cpl. Kevin Day says her cell phone was found the next day by a caretaker outside the Yuthuythut Adult Learning Centre on River Road.

“Search and rescue are busy scouring the area,” he said. “Hopefully they will come up with some clues.”

Police have searched Jones’ bank and phone records, but say they have found no activity since a text message sent at 3 a.m. from August Road.

“We’re still looking further into the records from the phone companies. These things unfortunately sometimes take a little bit of time,” Day said.

Her mother says it’s not like Jones to disappear, and she’s worried for her well-being.

Jones is described as a 120-lb. First Nations woman with long black hair and braces. She was last seen wearing a black jacket, blue jeans and black boots.

Anyone with information on her whereabouts is asked to call the North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP at 250-748-5522 immediately.

from http://www.ctvbc.ctv.ca/servlet/an/local/CTVNews/20110124/bc_jones_missing_110124/20110124