#Justice4CindyGladue

#Justice4CindyGladue

Collective Outrage. Unified Voice. Power of Communities.

From St. John’s to Victoria, hundreds across Canada gathered and marched on Thursday, April 2nd calling for justice for Cindy Gladue and all missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.

In over 22 places communities expressed collective outrage over the acquittal of Bradley Barton, who walked free of both murder and manslaughter convictions on March 18th after being tried by a jury in Edmonton.

Community organizing for Cindy Gladue across the country and collective outrage influenced Edmonton with its people power.  Crown prosecutors in Alberta filed an appeal late Wednesday afternoon, asserting that Justice Robert Graesser erred in his understanding of motive, manslaughter, admissible evidence, and consent.

We will continue watching Edmonton.

We want justice for Cindy Glaude!

We want justice for all missing and murdered Indigenous Women!

 

April 2, 2015 across Canada ~ Collective outrage. The Unified Voice. Power of Communities.

 Vancouver

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 Algonquin Territory, Ottawa

Ottawa_@JaimeJiggs

Ottawa_@SusanLizMonica

Ottawa1_@DylanPenner

Edmonton

Edmonton_@TheMirandaJimmy

Edmonton2_@TheMirandaJimmy

Edmonton_ @borisproulx

 

Toronto1_@NYSHN

 Calgary/Treaty 7/Blackfoot Confederacy

Calgary_@borisproulx

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Calgary

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Victoria, on Lkwungen

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Saskatoon

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St. John’s, NL

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St. John’s, NL3

 

 Regina

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 Kenora/Treaty 3

Kenora_@TaniaCameron

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Toronto

Toronto_@TantaTalaga

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Toronto_@NYSHN

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Toronto_@connie_walker

Toronto

Winnipeg

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Lac La Biche, Alberta

Lethbridge, Alberta1

Saskatoon Art-In

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St. Paul

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Ending violence is not just on the agenda, it IS the agenda ~ #MMIW

The following blog will highlight how little action has been undertaken to date despite 58 reports and 700 recommendations tabled so far.

A Canadian National Roundtable on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Girls and Women was held on February 27, 2015 in Ottawa, Ontario with 12 representatives from British Columbia, in attendance.

The Canadian Federal Government has consistently rejected the call for a national inquiry examining the epidemic of violence against Indigenous girls and women, despite the urging from thousands of family members, individuals, women’s groups, communities, First Nations, municipal, provincial and territorial governments, the international community, and human rights organizations.

The Federal Government’s rejection has been largely positioned as a “choice” between taking “action” or a national inquiry.

The consistent levels of indifference combined with a lack of political will to address violence against women, in general and specifically, with respect to Indigenous girls and women is jarring for those of us on the front-line of the war on women including victims, survivors, activist, and advocates.

Violence against Indigenous women and girls in Canada

Review of reports and recommendations – Executive Summary
Prepared by Pippa Feinstein and Megan Pearce
February 26, 2015

INTRODUCTION
Indigenous women and girls in Canada are assaulted, abducted and murdered at appallingly high rates. Against the backdrop of this tragic reality, Indigenous leaders, national Indigenous organizations, provincial and territorial governments, non-government organizations, international human rights bodies and individual activists, have repeatedly called for a national inquiry to examine the disproportionately high rates of violence against Indigenous women. The federal government has rejected these calls, justifying its position on the basis that: (a) violence against Indigenous women and girls is not a sociological phenomenon, but should viewed instead as a series of crimes, and (b) that the problem of violence against Indigenous women and girls in Canada has already been adequately studied.

We have reviewed 58 studies, reports and inquiries which have examined the causes of this violence and made hundreds of recommendations about how best to respond. These reports have been prepared by a diverse set of
authors, including national Indigenous organizations, such as the Assembly of First Nations and the Native Women’s Association of Canada; international organizations such as Amnesty International; Canadian parliamentary committees and provincial and federal Ministries; independent academics; and grassroots organizations. Most recently, the Inter-American Commission issued a report on murders and disappearances of Indigenous women in British Columbia, which was requested by the Native Women’s Association of Canada and the Canadian Feminist Alliance for International Action. The IACHR report describes the severity of this issue and recommends specific action.

The existing literature does not support the government’s stance. First, despite diverse authors, the reports reviewed show strong consensus about the root causes of this violence; it is a sociological issue. Second, the recommendations that are repeated time and again in so many of the reports highlight exactly why an inquiry is needed: to ascertain the extent to which these recommendations have been implemented, and to identify and address obstacles to implementation. Such an inquiry could also provide the basis for future informed and coordinated inter-jurisdictional action on this issue, which is based on credible evidence.

CONSIDERABLE AGREEMENT ON THE CAUSES OF VIOLENCE AGAINST INDIGENOUS
WOMEN
Our research revealed that there is consistent consensus with respect to the causes of violence against
Indigenous women, and that this issue is a sociological one.

There is considerable agreement between the reports about the root causes of violence against Indigenous women. Many reports stress that the economic and social marginalization of Indigenous women makes them more susceptible to violence and less able to escape violent circumstances.

Contributing to this marginalization is a set of complex and overlapping factors. In particular, a lack of access to education and employment opportunities results in high levels of poverty amongst Indigenous women. In addition, according to some reports, Indigenous women experience disproportionately high rates of food insecurity, overcrowded housing, and homelessness. High instances of family breakdown, and the intervention of the child welfare system further contribute to the vulnerabilities of Indigenous women and girls. Finally, chronic underfunding of services to help Indigenous women cope with these circumstances also contributes to their susceptibility to violence and limited ability to leave violent situations.

According to many of the reports reviewed, the poverty and discrimination experienced by Indigenous women is a product of continuing racism and sexism in Canada that excludes and devalues Indigenous women. The historical context of this violence, and in particular the legacies of colonialism, the residential school system, and discriminatory Canadian laws such as the Indian Act, continue to adversely impact the wellbeing of Indigenous women and girls. And yet, police and health care professionals fail to adequately prioritize the health and safety of Indigenous women, and a lack of culturally sensitive programs prevent the services that already exist from addressing challenges specific to Indigenous women’s experiences. These issues are compounded by an unresponsive justice system that is often unable to accommodate the needs of those most at risk.

Despite the federal government’s contrary assertions, the reports reviewed make plain: violence against Indigenous women in Canada is a sociological phenomenon.

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR ACTION TO ADDRESS THE VIOLENCE
Our research has also revealed that there is considerable agreement in the literature with respect to the
recommendations for future action to prevent and end violence against Indigenous women in Canada.

The 58 reports we reviewed contained over 700 recommendations. Most of these recommendations concerned preventative action, highlighting the need to address the causes of violence against Indigenous women in holistic
ways. Within the large number of recommendations, sixteen overarching ‘themes’ were identified. Below is a
brief summary of each theme and an assessment of the extent to which the associated recommendations have
been implemented:

1. 4 reports published between 2012 and 2015 recommend the establishment of a national commission of inquiry into this issue. Another report prepared in 2012 contains detailed recommendations for how to ensure any future inquiry will be fair and inclusive. The federal government refuses to implement this recommendation.

2. 12 reports, published between 2002 and 2015, recommend the establishment of a national action plan, and call for governments and service providers to ensure that action is coordinated. The federal government’s current ‘action plan’ falls far short of providing the preventative measures or coordination of inter-agency or inter-jurisdictional efforts necessary for a proper response. Moreover, funding for the ‘action plan’ pales next to the funding cut to Indigenous organizations, many of which offered services that addressed the root causes for the disproportionate violence against Indigenous women.

3. 4 reports, published between 2004 and 2012, recommend greater public acknowledgement of the extent of violence against Indigenous women, and priority afforded to the issue. The only action on this recommendation has occurred at a provincial level. In particular, the government of British Columbia has signed a memorandum of understanding with First Nations and Métis leaders that explicitly acknowledged the extent of this issue and declares it a priority.

4. 28 reports, published between 1996 and 2015, stress the importance of properly resourced, Indigenous-specific programs to address both the causes of violence against Indigenous women and to provide support and services to women and girls who have experienced violence, and their families. Our research has shown that the federal government has dramatically cut funding to Indigenous-led organizations providing services to Indigenous communities, and Indigenous women in particular. These organizations delivered preventative programs, aimed at alleviating poverty and minimizing the social and economic marginalization of Indigenous women, as well as services designed to protect, heal and support women and girls who had experienced violence. By cutting funding to these organizations, the federal government has failed to implement this recommendation.

5. 12 reports, published between 1996 and 2015, stress the importance of greater involvement of Indigenous peoples in program development and delivery. At least on the federal level, the involvement of Indigenous peoples in the development and delivery of programs directly affecting them has steadily decreased. Federal budget cuts have effectively subsumed Indigenous-specific programs into mainstream government services, decreasing Indigenous people’s involvement in program development and delivery.

6. 14 reports, published between 1994 and 2015, recommended improved data gathering and publication. Over the past few years, the federal government has defunded some of the most significant Indigenous-specific data gathering initiatives, and prevented the continued gathering and publication of information about violence against Indigenous women. Further, inter-jurisdictional police information sharing initiatives still require urgent attention.

7. 15 reports, published between 2005 and 2014, recommend further awareness raising and public education efforts. It is unclear what education or awareness raising initiatives are currently supported financially by the federal government. There is some action at a provincial level, with the most promising programs being designed and delivered by independent or non-government groups.

8. 12 reports, published between 2002 and 2013, recommend improvements to transport services and physical access to accommodation, including safe housing and shelters. Our research has shown that there has been little improvement in this area and that inadequate shelter and transportation continue to put economically marginalized Indigenous women at risk.

9. 5 reports, published between 2002 and 2012, recommend additional support for community-based first response and search and rescue. Our research was not able to identify any positive developments or changes in this area.

10. 4 reports, published between 2004 and 2012, recommend greater protection of Indigenous women working in the sex industry. New legislation on this topic has recently been passed by the federal government, and has received mixed reactions. However, there is very little to suggest the implementation of recommendations aimed at preventing Indigenous women from having to engage in survival sex work, or protecting those who are forced to do this work.

11. 21 reports, published between 2001 and 2015, recommend measures to improve the relationships between police and Indigenous communities. Despite some limited initiatives in recent years, our research failed to find evidence that such developments have significantly improved the relationships between police departments and Indigenous communities.

12. 15 reports, published between 2004 and 2015, recommend improvements to investigations into and prosecutions over missing and murdered Indigenous women. A small number of initiatives have been developed at a provincial level, in particular in British Columbia. None of these initiatives is specific to Indigenous women. Moreover, our research suggests the programs that are in place have not been effective.

13. 6 reports, published between 2001 and 2015, concern the importance of support for community based and restorative justice. Some provinces have programs that include community justice initiatives, such as sentencing circles. However, recent federal legislation involving mandatory minimum sentences, may frustrate the growth of these initiatives.

14. 5 reports, between 1996 and 2013, have recommended that Canada endorse international declarations and ratify international conventions concerned with promoting the safety of women, and Indigenous peoples’ rights. The federal government has not implemented these recommendations, refusing to endorse or ratify applicable international instruments such as the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

15. 5 reports, published between 1996 and 2009, recommend several specific areas of domestic law reform. While some limited reforms have been made, significant discrimination still exists in the Canadian legal system and further law reform is required.

16. 4 reports, published between 2006 and 2012, recommend a compensation and/or healing fund for the victims of this violence and their families. This has not been implemented by the federal government.

The recommendations summarized above cover a range of responses – from preventative actions to address the systemic discrimination and economic marginalization of Indigenous women, through to recommendations aimed at improving the way Indigenous women are treated by the police and in the justice system. The recommendations illustrate the importance of addressing the outcomes and the root causes of violence. In fact, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has recently confirmed, in a detailed and ground-breaking report, that Canada is legally obliged, in accordance with established principles of international law, to prevent violence against Indigenous women by addressing the “institutional and structural inequalities confront[ing] indigenous women in Canada”, including by measures to reduce poverty, guarantee proper housing and improve education and employment opportunities.1 According to the Inter-American Commission, the Canadian government’s legal obligation also extends to ensuring that, when violence occurs, it is promptly investigated, punished and that reparations are made to the victims.

THE NEED FOR A NATIONAL COMMISSION OF INQUIRY
It is clear from our research that despite wide agreement about the causes of violence against Indigenous women, and the response required, very few recommendations have been implemented by federal or provincial governments. Moreover, determining which recommendations have been implemented at either federal or provincial levels is made considerably difficult by the very limited information available publicly. When information is available publicly, it rarely, if ever, extends to an assessment of how well various initiatives or programs are performing. Finally, our research shows that there is little in the way of formal government commitments to implement existing these recommendations, and that inter-agency and or inter-jurisdictional coordination of existing implementation efforts is sorely lacking.

In light of these challenges, a properly mandated and well-run national commission of inquiry offers an efficient and effective information gathering tool, with robust powers to compel the production of information and witnesses, and to conduct coordinated and comprehensive research with the support of experts where necessary. An inquiry can therefore consolidate and update existing knowledge about the causes of violence against Indigenous women, comprehensively evaluate the adequacy of existing initiatives and programs, and help Canadians and policy-makers understand why there has been so much resistance to action to address this issue. This would help to ensure that any recommendations it makes are based on a solid understanding of what is being done already. Finally, a national public inquiry can be an important way to make the Canadian governments accountable for failing to undertake coordinated and informed action in response to violence against Indigenous women and girls.

Our goal with this research is to help inform existing and future advocacy initiatives related to the establishment of a national commission of inquiry into violence against Indigenous women and girls.

RESEARCH BRIEF AND FORMAT OF REPORT
A. This review was conducted on behalf of the Legal Strategy Coalition on Violence Against Indigenous Women (LSC). We were originally briefed to complete three main tasks:

1) To review 40 reports that examine issue of violence against Aboriginal women, and to list the recommendations made therein (if any). This list of 40 reports was provided by the Department of Justice to justify the federal government’s stance that there is no need for a national public inquiry into this issue,

2) To find additional reports the federal government may be relying on to support their refusal to hold a national public inquiry. (The LSC had been notified that the federal government is relying on the existence of at least 49 reports, to support their position.), and

3) To research and analyze the extent to which the recommendations contained in these reports (if any) have been implemented to date.

B. Organization of research outcomes

We have organized our research into three parts:
1) a spreadsheet containing the details of the 58 reports we have reviewed. This document contains a brief summary of each report’s contents, including a list of causes for violence identified in each report, and a summary of the recommendations in each report;
2) a memorandum dividing all reports’ recommendations into 16 themes, and assessing the extent to which federal and provincial governments have taken action under each of the recommendation themes; and
3) An appendix containing a list of all reports’ recommendations in their original wording, also organized by theme.

Federal Government’s record of refusal: An act of violence against Indigenous women

On November 12, 1971 Helen Betty Osborne was sexually assaulted and brutally murdered in the Pas, Northern Manitoba. On August 2014, we learned about the brutal murder of 15 year old Tina Fontaine in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Within the 43 year time span between the two murders, hundreds of Indigenous women have continued to go missing or have been murdered in every region across Canada.

Here’s a list of some of the most recent reports calling for the Canadian public to address the issue.

1. SUMA backs inquiry into MMIW, pushes to keep revenue sharing stable, Feb. 3, 2015:

The Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association, SUMA joined their voices in support of an inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women.

2. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) Issues Report on missing and murdered women, December 21, 2014:

The IACHR report focuses on British Columbia and recommends movement to address violence against women and support for the creation of a national-level action plan or nation-wide inquiry into the issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women.

3. The Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF) makes new research available, December 6, 2014:

Following the murder of Inuit university student Loretta Saunders, LEAF published two documents which list and synthesize 40 reports for MMIW advocates.

4. The Special Committee on Violence Against Indigenous Women issue report, March 2014:

The Special Committee on Violence Against Indigenous Women issues a report called ‘Invisible women: A Call to Action — ACAT Canada’, concludes by saying “the families will have to wait until the government changes to get the National Public Enquiry and National Action Plan”

5. UN Special Rapporteur James Anaya visits Canada and issues report on situation of Indigenous in Canada, July 2014:

United Nations Report — Crisis in Canada following a visit to Canada from October 7-11, 2013 by James Anaya, Special Rapporteur on the rights of Indigenous peoples in Canada. The document highlights least 29 official inquires with 500 recommendations for action have been put forward since 1996.

6. Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres respond to Royal Canadian Mounted Police, May 2014:

Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres (OFIFC) response to Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) Operations Report slams the November 2013 document. The OFIFC outlines inconsistencies and calls on the RCMP to provide concrete actions to address the high rates of missing and murdered Aboriginal women in Canada.

7. RCMP issue report Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women: A National Operational Overview, November 2013:

Over ten years after Stolen sisters was issued, the RCMP responds to missing and murdered Indigenous women. Brought us to a shocking total of 1100+ cases. Presently, the document is the most cited report used by media.

8. Coordinating Committee of Senior Officials (Criminal): Missing Women Working Group issues report and recommendations, January 2012:

Coordinating Committee of Senior Officials (Criminal): Missing Women Working Group established in February 2006.  Focuses between 2006 and 2010 confirming factors under which Aboriginal women became victims of violence and issues recommendations to reduce these factors.

9. Missing Women Commission of Inquiry issues a report in response to Robert Pickton case, November 2012:

The Missing Women Commission of Inquiry issues a report entitled ‘Forsaken: The Report of the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry Executive Summary’ a four volume response to British Columbia’s Missing and Murdered women in the wake of the Robert Pickton case.

10. Amnesty International report documents stories of missing and murdered Indigenous Women, October 2004:

Amnesty International Report entitled ‘Stolen sisters — A human rights response to Discrimination and Violence against Aboriginal women in Canada’ documents the stories of missing and murdered women over 30 years. The culmination of many inquiries (starting as far back as 1971), the report called for “Canadian officials to ensure the rights and safety of Aboriginal people are respected and upheld by police and courts.”

The list of reports originally appeared on MUSKRAT Magazine.

“We Can Afford a Missing Women’s Inquiry

It’s not just another study. It’s what indigenous people deserve.”

Joint Press Release: Coalition Continues to Demand National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls

February 27, 2015

A coalition of advocacy groups, Indigenous organizations, and family members continue to demand that the federal government hold a national public inquiry into murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls. In its January 2015 report, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights strongly supported a national inquiry because there is “much still to be understood and much to be acknowledged.” In a report of his visit to Canada in 2014, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Rights and Freedoms, Dr. James Anaya, also supported the need for a national inquiry, as have Indigenous women and communities, human rights groups, opposition parties and Premiers.

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A national inquiry is needed to allow all voices to be heard and to educate the public about the root and intersecting causes of violence, systemic poverty, racism, sexism and intergenerational abuse. It must thoroughly investigate all national, provincial, regional and municipal police practices/policies and make sweeping changes to how Indigenous women and girls are treated in Canada.

The coalition acknowledges that the federal and provincial/territorial governments and Indigenous advocacy groups are meeting today at a national roundtable on this issue, but stresses that the roundtable cannot address the root causes of the tragic reality that Indigenous women and girls continue to be assaulted, go missing and are murdered at a shockingly disproportionate rate. A one-day family gathering occurred yesterday which provided space for the voices of families who were able to attend; however, there are still hundreds of families that need to have their voices heard. A peoples’ roundtable is also occurring today but those voices will not be heard at the main political roundtable.

A report released yesterday by a legal strategy group on murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls in Canada reviewed 58 studies, reports and inquiries and found that the governments have only fully implemented a handful of recommendations, while hundreds have been made. This is absolutely unacceptable, and we call on the governments in Canada to review this important report and act swiftly on the recommendations, including the glaring need for a national public inquiry leading to a comprehensive and coordinated national strategy.

The coalition is well aware that Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada Minister Bernard Valcourt is on record agreeing with Prime Minister Stephen Harper that a national inquiry is not needed. We are further concerned that the government has repeatedly resorted to inflammatory and misleading language, such as the Minister’s comment that “if the [Indigenous] guys grow up believing that women have no rights, that’s how they are treated,” which deflect the government’s own responsibilities by blaming Indigenous societies and cultures. Former Commissioner Wally Oppal who headed the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry in British Columbia has also stated that a national inquiry is not needed and that the MWCI fulfilled the need for any investigation in British Columbia. These statements from public officials are completely opposite to what the grassroots, Indigenous and women’s organizations, and research demonstrates, and contribute to the institutionalized discrimination that Indigenous women and girls face.

The coalition will continue supporting the family members and working at the grassroots levels to advance justice for missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, and will continue to relentlessly pursue a national public inquiry leading to a comprehensive and coordinated strategy.

To read the Legal Strategy Coalition’s full report: http://www.leaf.ca/legal-strategy-coalition-on-mmiw/
For further information please contact:
Amnesty International Canada, Craig Benjamin (613) 744-7667, ext 235
Atira Women’s Resource Society, Janice Abbott, Executive Director, (604) 331-1420
Battered Women’s Support Services, Angela Marie MacDougall (604) 808-0507
Beverley Jacobs, LL.B., LL.M., PhD Candidate, Advocate for Families of MMIWG , (778) 877-7402
Butterflies in Spirit, Lorelei Williams (778) 709-6498
Carrier Sekani Tribal Council, Terry Teegee (250) 640-3256
Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre , Carol Martin (604) 681-8480
Holly Jarrett, Creator of #AmINext campaign, (613) 304-9566
Jenny Kwan, MLA, Vancouver-Mount Pleasant (604) 775-0790
PHS Community Services Society, Patrick Smith (604) 779-6837
Pivot Legal Society, Katrina Pacey, (604) 729-7849
The Poverty and Human Rights Centre, Shelagh Day ([email protected])
Providing Alternatives, Counselling & Education (PACE) Society, Laura Dilley (604) 872-7651
Provincial Council of Women of British Columbia (PCWBC), Rosemary Mallory (604) 985-0878
Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter, Keira Smith-Tague (604) 872-8212
Union of BC Indian Chiefs, Grand Chief Stewart Phillip (250) 490-5314
Union Gospel Mission, Derek Weiss (604) 253-3323
Vancouver Aboriginal Community Policing Centre Society, Lillian Howard (604) 253-9575
West Coast LEAF, Kasari Govender (604)684-8772
WISH Drop-In Centre Society, Kate Gibson (604) 720-5517

If you could do something to end violence against girls and women, wouldn’t you?

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February 14th Women’s Memorial March 2015 – “Their Spirits Live Within Us”

In January 1991 a woman was murdered on Powell Street in Vancouver, Coast Salish Territories. Her name is not spoken today out of respect for the wishes of her family. Her murder in particular acted as a catalyst and  February 14 became a day of remembrance and mourning and this year, twenty three years later, February 14 Women’s Memorial Marches are held across the lands and each march reflects the nuances and complexities of the particular region with the common goals of expressing, community, compassion, and connection for all women.  It is a day to protest the forces of colonization, misogyny, poverty, racism and to celebrate survival, resistance, struggle and solidarity and to make visible these forces and women’s resistance.  Led by Indigenous Women, February 14 Women’s Memorial Marches signify the strength of decolonization and the power of Indigenous Women’s leadership throughout and across the lands.

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LO-RES-Angela-MacDougallMany community organizations and international human rights organizations have pointed to the highest number of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls in Canada. It is well-documented that British Columbia (BC) has the highest number of cases which accounts for almost a third of all cases based on Native Women’s Association of Canada. Some of the cases of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls in BC can be learned here.

February 14 — Why I March?

February 14 — Why I March?  is a blog series written by women to bring voice to the personal experiences of the activist, the family members, the women who work tirelessly in their communities to address violence.  Over the next days leading up to February 14, 2014 individual reflections will be posted here with the goal of drawing attention to the strength of women and the power of this unique community event.  Unlike any other of its kind, February 14 Women’s Memorial Marches demonstrates the power of women’s collective and community organizing and through the telling of February 14 –Why I March? reflects the personal and the political.

Here is a roundup of the blogs:

https://www.bwss.org/february-14-why-i-march/

Why I March: Marlene George

By Marlene George

marlene1In 1996 I became involved with the February 14 Women’s Memorial March in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside (DTES) through my work at the Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre. I was working with Marion Dubick who was helping the women to organize the march for February 14 1997. Each week we would begin with a group of women who were interested in helping to organize the march. Tasks were assigned to each person to complete for the next meeting. Women in the DTES were very active in the community in the 1990s and often participated in the Take Back the Night march held each fall. Read  more here.

February 14th in Toronto — Ceremony as an Act of Sovereignty: Audrey Huntley

By Audrey Huntley

2006_memorial_0For Cheyenne, Terra and Bella.

Another year has passed since we last stood together in ceremony outside police headquarters in Toronto.

Three beautiful, young women have passed on since.

Cheyenne was a mother. Read more here.

 

Why I March? Women’s Memorial March February 14, 2014 — Winnipeg, Manitoba

By Sandra DeLaronde

Picture2I have many memories of long summers and winter holidays in my Mothers home community of Cross Lake Manitoba.  It was the centre of my world before Hydro development forever changed the landscape and the people. My memories hold some of my greatest moments of joy and lifelong friendships.  I always hold a connection to my family and the land  and I am very protective of  these memories of Cross Lake.  Lorna Lynn Blacksmith and her family are from Cross Lake.  It just rattled my being to know that such a young woman from my home had dissappeared from the streets of Winnipeg. Read more here.

Why I march in Vancouver’s February 14 Women’s Memorial March

By Lorelei Williams

Picture1I’m sure a lot of people can relate to this when I say a scary moment in a person’s life is when they lose a child for just a few minutes or even seconds. You and the child are together and then suddenly you aren’t.  Your heart begins to race; you can even hear it beating in your head.  Everything feels like it’s going in slow motion. You’re panicking, your head is pounding, you start to shake and feel like throwing up. Then, all of a sudden you see the child! You’re so relieved and everything is ok.

Unfortunately this isn’t the case for several Aboriginal families across Canada.  Including my own.  My cousin Tanya Holyk went missing in 1996.  Her DNA was later found on Pickton’s Farm.  My Aunty Belinda Williams who I closely resemble went missing around 1978.  She disappeared without a trace.  She still remains missing today. Read more here.

Memorial March for All the Missing and Murdered Women of Edmonton

By Danielle Boudreau

Picture3It all started for me back in 2004, when Rachel Quinney was found murdered in a field Northeast of Sherwood Park, Alberta. She was 19 years old and her body had been mutilated. The headlines in the paper at the time used so many demeaning words as if to justify the death of a young woman whose life had taken a wrong turn. A year later on May 6, 2005 another friend of mine was found in a field, also murdered and once again demeaned in the media. I couldn’t sit back and do nothing, I felt I needed to tell the country who these women really were. I became a part of the Project KARE website and started chatting on the forum. When the forum was shut down, a few of us girls started another site to memorialize the women who were found dead.Read more here.

We march on…

By Raven Bowen

Picture4 I believe my first February 14th Women’s Memorial March was in 1997 in Downtown Eastside Vancouver. I was the support worker at PACE Society at the time and I was asked to say a few words. This was a great honour.

During the March we would customarily stop at the steps of the old Vancouver Police Station to listen and to share inspirational speeches and calls to action from women’s organizations. I remember how the community — a diverse grouping of Elders, family members, residents and community workers — claimed the Hastings and Main intersection.  Read more here.

February 14 Women’s Memorial Marches: Not forgetting the legacy and honouring through action

By Native Youth Sexual Health Network

Picture5This year at the Native Youth Sexual Health Network (NYSHN), we continue to participate in February 14 Women’s Memorial March events to remember and honor missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, Two-Spirit and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Transsexual, Queer, Questioning, Intersex, Asexual (LGBTTQQIA), gender non-conforming people and their families. At NYSHN we march, gather and ceremony together in spirit with one and other; remembering and honoring ancestors and generations to come. Despite the stereotype from mainstream media outlets of Indigenous women and communities being “victims only”; Women’s Memorial Marches are a concrete example of what we have been doing and continue to do about stopping and preventing violence. Coming together in this way is symbolic of us not standing for the loss of family and friends without action and responding together across our different nations. Read more here.

Why I March at the Annual Memorial March for Missing and Murdered Women in Montreal

By Maya Rolbin-Ghanie

MontrealI march because:

…love is everything; it is all that matters; nothing else measures up or ever will. Love of self; love of life; love of nature; love of resistance. We need to block off streets and take up space and make people late, all to remind ourselves and those around us, and even the world, that placing any interest above love is to bow to fear.

…I’m afraid, in spite of myself. I want to walk down the street alone at night with no other distraction than the curve of the moon and the wind at my back and the shifting of the leaves. It’s unacceptable, all the blood and pain of daughters still pooling and seeping into the ground all around us. Those who possess the most power are always the most hunted. This has to change. Read more here.

From Juarez to Vancouver: Why I march on February 14

By Rosa Elena Arteaga

Picture8I joined the February 14th Women’s Memorial March in Downtown Eastside Vancouver in 1998. At the time, I had just immigrated to Canada. I came escaping from injustice and looking for a safe place to live for me and my family. However, sooner than later, I learned about the real Canadian history and it was very different to the official story that I had been told. I learned about the impact of colonization on the Indigenous people of this land. I witnessed and experienced racism and discrimination. I realized that the history of colonization and its impacts on Indigenous people in Latin America was similar to the impact on Indigenous people in Canada. Read more here.

February 14th Women’s Memorial Marches 2015

photo-8Vancouver: Saturday February 14th, march starts at noon from Carnegie (Main and Hastings). Feb 14th Annual Women’s Memorial March – DTES. Facebook Page

Toronto: 10th Annual Strawberry Ceremony for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. Saturday February 14th, Strawberry Ceremony with Elder Wanda Whitebird begins at 12:30 at Police Headquarters, 40 College Street at Bay, Toronto. Facebook  Page

Victoria: Saturday February 14th at 11 am Our Place (919 Pandora Avenue), noon march to Parliament. Stolen Sisters Memorial March. Facebook Page

Ottawa: Thursday February 12th at 5 pm. FSIS 5th Annual Day Of Justice Feast And Ceremony at the The Wabano Centre for Aboriginal Health. Facebook Page

Mississaugas Of The Credit First Nation: Friday, February 13, 5 pm Vigil – King & Main in Hagersville, followed by Strawberry Ceremony to honour the women held at New credit at the Sacred Fire. Facebook Page

Winnipeg. Saturday February 14-2015 @ 1:30 pm – 5:30pm, Bulman Centre: Multipurpose Room University of Winnipeg. March will commence at approximately 2:00 pm. 8th Annual Memorial March for all Missing and Murdered ~ Winnipeg. Facebook Page

Calgary: Saturday, February 14, 2015, will mark Calgary’s 7th Annual Valentine’s Day Women’s Memorial March. The event will take place at Scarboro United Church (134 Scarboro Avenue SW) and will begin at 6:30pm with speeches. The march will begin at 7pm and light meal will follow. Facebook  Page.

Courtnay: Saturday February 14, 2015 at 1 pm at Simms Millennium Park. Let us gather for a memorial walk to honour our missing and murdered indigenous women. Our women are sacred; they are the life givers, leaders, shakers and movers. Let’s join together and walk in solidarity with the precious lives that were taken too soon. Bring candles, drums, songs, pictures and beautiful energy. Facebook Page.

Nelson: Saturday, February 14th, 2015 12pm. Gathering in front of City Hall, We will gather to share prayers, songs, and stories to honour and grieve the loss of our beloved sisters, remember the women who are still missing, and to dedicate ourselves to justice. Bring your drums. Everyone is welcome to attend. Facebook Page

Maple Ridge:  Saturday, February 14, 2015 at noon at Memorial Peach Park, 11900 – 224th Street, Maple Ridge.  Memorial March for Missing and Murdered Women – A time for families to gather and memorialize the loved ones who are missing and murdered – February 14
Memorial March for Missing and Murdered Women.  Facebook Page

Grand Forks: Saturday, February 14th, 2015 12pm. We will meet in front of the Courthouse at Noon for Smudging, prayers, words and singing – we will then march to the Women’s Resource Centre for a slide show and pot luck luncheon. Facebook Page.

Prince George: Saturday, February 14th, 2015 from 2pm to 4pm at Prince George Court, 250 Georgia Street. In memory, may we walk with all our grandmothers, mothers, aunties, sisters, daughters, and friends in our hearts from our communities. For more information, contact Arnold Norman Yellowman/ Gabby Solonas at 250-649-9273, or e-mail [email protected]

Six Nations: Sunday February 15th from 3-4 pm at Veteran’s Park. Second annual Honoring Our Sisters: Walk and Vigil for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. Facebook Page

Sault Ste. Marie: Wednesday February 18th at the Sault Ste. Marie Courthouse from 12-1pm. March For Missing and Murdered Women organized by Womyn 4 Social Justice, Phoenix Rising Women’s Centre and Nimkii-Naabkawagan Family Crisis Shelter. Sponsored by Algoma Council on Domestic Violence.

Nanaimo: Saturday February 14th from 11 am to 2 pm. Gathering at top parking lot at Vancouver Island University and walking to Swy-A-Lana Lagoon in downtown Nanaimo for prayer songs and refreshments. Facebook Page

London, Ontario: Friday February 13th, 2015 from 12-4 pm at 343 Richmond Street. Agenda items include a round dance, feast and prayer for community members who will be attending.

Denver, Colorado, USA: Saturday February 14th at noon at 16th Street Mall. Sing Our Rivers Red March. Facebook  Page.

Fargo, North Dakota, USA: Saturday, February 14th from noon-3 pm at Fargo Public Library. Rally in support of our missing & murdered indigenous women across the US and Canada. In solidarity with the ongoing efforts in Canada, & to raise awareness / gain recognition about the very same problem in the US. Facebook Page.

Minneapolis, USA: Saturday February 14th at 11:30 am at Minneapolis American Indian Center 1530 E Franklin Ave, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55404. 1st Annual Women’s Memorial March: Sing Our Rivers Red Twin Cities. Facebook Page.

Your Rights On Reserve: A Legal Tool-kit for Aboriginal Women in BC

Last week, Atira Women’s Resource Society released a legal tool-kit for Aboriginal Women in British Columbia. Led by Atira Women’s Resource Society’s legal advocate Amber Prince, this tool-kit was created by Aboriginal women, for Aboriginal women.

Says Ms. Prince, “As Aboriginal women with varying experience with the law we have seen in our work and in our lives how gaps in legal information creates hardships for Aboriginal women in BC.”

The tool-kit aims to address some of the identified gaps in legal information for Aboriginal women.

“We hope this tool-kit will be of assistance to women, their families and their communities,” says Prince, “as well as for service providers helping Aboriginal women understand some of their legal rights in BC and especially as they apply on reserve.”

The tool-kit includes chapters on taxation, employment issues on Reserve, social assistance / welfare, education, Indian Status, Band membership, Reserve land and housing issues, wills and estates Issues, family law, relationship violence, Ministry of Children and Families Development and governance issues.

The Tool kit is available for download here.

This blog was originally posted on Atira Women’s Resource Society. For full article, please visit here.