Monday February 14, noon-1:30pm
Parliament Hill, Ottawa, Algonquin Territory
Come out and show support for the survival of the Native Women’s Association of Canada’s (NWAC) unprecedented Sisters in Spirit campaign (SIS), which, since it’s inception in 2004, has worked to raise awareness about violence against Native women and girls in Canada–namely, those who have gone missing or been murdered.
SIS not only compiled a data for over 583 cases of missing and murdered Native women in five years time, but also identified key patterns integral to understanding the systemic nature of the violence: media neglect or racial bias, police racism or negligence, victimization of Native women by the Justice system, and governmental apathy and enforcement of cycles of poverty for Native communities, to name a few. In a relatively short period of time, SIS also managed to raise the profile of the issue in the media and in the minds of the population at large, while providing indispensable support to the families of victims and creating a cross-country network.
This October 86 communities organized the 5th annual memorial Sisters in Spirit March and Vigil, including one in Nicaragua.
In spite of this progress, and the ongoing collection of new data (indeed, grassroots groups have put the number of missing and murdered women much closer to 2000), the government has held SIS in funding limbo for the past 8 months, ever since the release of Canada’s 2010 budget back in March, when $10 million was promised to “address the issue of missing and murdered Native women.” It wasn’t until November 2010 that the government finally made the announcement that confirmed the worst fears of many activists, organizers, and even opposition MPs: the money would not go to fund SIS research, but would instead fulfill the government’s new idea of safety for women, and include requirements for enhanced police power: amendments to the Criminal Code to allow police to wiretap without warrants in emergencies and obtain multiple warrants on a single application. This will not only increase the likelihood of criminalization of women, Native communities, and other vulnerable sectors of the population, but will be expected to operate without the backbone of research and data collection. Add to this the historical and ongoing relationship of distrust between many Native communities and police, who are themselves implicated in a number of documented violent altercations with Native women. Gladys Tolley, for instance, was killed by the Surete du Quebec in 2001 and no one was ever brought to justice. Her daughter Bridget Tolley has pushed for an independent investigation for years and was recently refused.
ENOUGH is ENOUGH!! We will not stand for the continued stripping down of First Nations programs essential to the physical safety and mental and emotional health of Native women and Native communities, as we have seen earlier this same year with the Aboriginal Healing Foundation and First Nations University.
RALLY FOR JUSTICE on February 14th. SHOW YOUR LOVE!
We are looking for volunteers who would like to help out on the Hill, February 14th from noon to 1:30 pm (shorter if windchill warning in effect).
There are a number of tasks available:
– Handing out rally signs
– Handing out memorial armbands
– Being a part of our human billboard (by holding 1 of 19 letters to send a clear message to Stephen Harper)
– Helping to coordinate the human billboard on the steps of the Hill
– Taking photos/video of the event (to be posted online afterwards)
If you are interested in volunteering please email Kristen at firstname.lastname@example.org
In love and resistance!