Unceded lands of xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and Sel̓íl̓witulh (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations/Vancouver, BC) – Battered Women’s Support Services (BWSS) is in solidarity with Indigenous families, communities, and survivors in honour of all of the lives of our murdered and disappeared Indigenous women, girls, trans, and Two-Spirit people whose lives have been taken by acts of violence: more often than not, acts of violence committed by men. Too many families and communities have been affected by the epidemic of violence against Indigenous women, girls, trans, and Two-Spirit people. Today and every day, we ask all of our staff, volunteers, and allies to stand in solidarity with us.
Violence against Indigenous women, girls, trans, and Two-Spirit people is deeply rooted in Canada’s history, and will continue to do so until the lives of Indigenous women, girls, trans and Two-Spirit people are no longer considered disposable. It will continue to be rooted in Canada’s history until the demands for justice for murdered and disappeared Indigenous women, girls, trans, and Two-Spirit people are answered, are pursued, are believed, are investigated, are tried and convicted.
Indigenous women and girls in Canada have been murdered or have gone missing at a rate five times higher than their rate of representation in Canada. And yet, Canada still has done nothing.
Calls for recommendations made over the last decade continue to sit on a shelf and go unanswered. Because of this failure, Indigenous women and girls are 12 times more likely to be murdered or go missing, and are eight times more likely to face abuse, than non-Indigenous women.
Along with the state failure to protect Indigenous women, girls, trans, and Two-Spirit people, the criminal justice system also continues to fail them. Cases of murdered or disappeared Indigenous women are far more likely to go uninvestigated, and unsolved. As a matter of fact, not only do they go unsolved—they are ignored, dismissed and in closed cases, with no answers or answers that are absurd.
The following three points are an adaptation from the Red Women Rising Report. BWSS is in complete solidarity and supports these calls to actions that can immediately be implemented at a provincial and federal level.
- Violence against Indigenous women and girls is a violation of inherent, constitutional, and internationally protected Indigenous rights. Implementation of the united Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous people (UNDRIP) at all levels of government, assertion of Indigenous title over lands and jurisdiction over law-making, and restoration of collective Indigenous women’s rights and governance is the only meaningful way to end this violence.
- Increased state enforcement alone cannot eliminate violence against Indigenous women and girls because structural violence is connected to individual acts of male violence. A comprehensive plan to end violence against Indigenous women must address socio-economic factors including equitable access to self-determination over land, culture, language, housing, child care, income security, employment, education, and physical, mental, and spiritual health.
- Indigenous women are not silent victims or stereotypes. Indigenous women come from diverse nations and families, and have unique stories and dreams. Indigenous women in the DTES are all leaders who contribute countless hours to the community and will never stop fighting for justice. Any policies, services, and solutions must be based on Indigenous women’s collective input and leadership.
Violence against Indigenous women, girls, trans, and Two-Spirit people are at epidemic levels. Canada is in a state of crisis and should be ashamed as to how little they have done to value, honour, respect, and protects the lives of Indigenous women, girls, trans, and Two-Spirit people. Despite this, the resistance and resilience of Indigenous women, girls, trans and Two-Spirit people have been louder and bolder than ever.
Here’s to honouring each other’s unique stories and preventing erasure in a world that is committed to their disappearance; to reconnecting and protecting the lands; and to continuing the fight for justice.
Wildflower Women of Turtle Island Drum Group shares the Strong Women’s Song with each and every one of you. This song comes from one of our sisters who was in PWD4 Solitary Confinement in the Kingston Penitentiary. She sang this song for strength. And today that is the message we want to share with you: The message of strength, of survival, of never giving up.