Updated: Sun Feb. 14 2010 6:55:06 PM
Montreal was among the cities across the country that held a Memorial March for Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women on Sunday.
The annual Valentine’s Day march was first organized by a community group in Vancouver after a woman was murdered there in 1991. The event was gradually taken on by groups in Edmonton, Winnipeg, London, Sudbury and Toronto.
This year marks the first time the march took place in Montreal.
It began at Parc Emilie-Gamelin and concluded with a commemorative ceremony at Parc des Ameriques.
“We’re trying to promote awareness about the fact that indigenous women are about five times more likely than other women to die as a result of violence,” said Maya Rolbin-Ghanie of the Missing Justice group.
A study found that 521 indigenous women have gone missing or been murdered in Canada over the past four decades.
Some family members of the victims say they’ve been left feeling abandoned.
“The family feels so alone. You don’t know where to go, where to turn to have support,” said Bridget Tolley, whose mother was struck and killed by an SQ police cruiser nine years ago.
Irkar Beljaars, who belongs to the Sisters in Spirit group, said many members of the community feel there are double standards in the way police investigate.
“(They say) ‘Oh, they probably ran away, give it a couple of days, they’ll probably come back.’ That’s what some families have heard,” Beljaars said.
Ellen Gabriel, who represents the group Quebec Native Women, said the community is seeking justice.
“Families are just asking for equality — to be treated the same as any body else,” Gabriel said.