By Rhonda Lee McIsaac
October 4th is here and the Native Women’s Association of Canada has chosen today to honour the memories of those women and girls who have been missing or murdered across Canada. The Sisters in Spirit Vigil raises awareness about violence against women.
October 4th is also a day to honour the communities that are fighting for justice on this alarming issue. The vigils held across Canada highlight the need for the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women because just one missing woman is too many. A 2014 RCMP report stated that 1200 women were missing or murdered, while the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) puts the number closer to 4,000. Whatever the number, Canada’s inquiry into the root causes of violence against indigenous women is long overdue.
“I think it’s important. There are a lot of women who have gone missing or have been murdered. That’s just too many” says Principal of Aboriginal Education Taanud Jaad Joanne Yovanovich who will once again be hanging red dresses in public places in recognition of this issue.
Joanne Collinson wearing a red dress to honour all missing women Raising awareness about the need for an inquiry about the violence that faces Indigenous women and girls is urgent and vigils held across the country are growing and spreading. Other responses include the popular REDress Project. In 2010 Métis artist Jaime Black displayed over one hundred red dresses on campus at the University of Winnipeg. The red dresses represent the missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls lost to violent crime. They are a call for action to ensure indigenous women and girls are able to live in a safe environment. The issue continues to be raised as red dresses appear on the landscape on or near October 4th including here on Haida Gwaii.
An independent National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls is in its early stages since its announcement on August 3, 2016. British Columbia judge Marion Buller was named chief commissioner for the inquiry. Other indigenous commissioners are Michele Audet, Qajag Robinson, Marilyn Poitras and Brian Eyolfson. So far no contact information for the Vancouver office has been posted and no independent website for the inquiry has been established.
On October 4th, wear red, put a red dress up on your property, hold a rally or simply acknowledge the day on social media or in your private thoughts to ensure there are No More Stolen Sisters.
For more information:
Fact Sheet: Root Causes of Violence Against Aboriginal Women and the Impact of Colonization
Terms of Reference for the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls
The REDress Project