For the past 30 years, on February 14th, marches, rallies and vigils have taken place across Canada to remember the more than 1,000 missing or murdered Indigenous women and girls (MMIWG) and this year will be no different.
“The very first February 14 vigil happened in 1991, when an Indigenous woman from Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside was murdered and someone said enough! Enough women and girls being murdered or going missing,” says Debbie Scarborough, provincial manager, women and child protection, for the BC First Nations Justice Council (BCFNJC).
“Then and now, the Women’s Memorial March Committee, led by Indigenous women from the community, organizes a vigil, providing a platform where survivors and families can share their anguish at losing a loved one and remember those who are still missing. It’s also a time when the community speaks up and marches united in their demand for justice for those who’ve had their voices silenced…not just in Vancouver but in many cities and towns across Canada.”
Indigenous women disproportionately continue to go missing or be murdered with only minimal action taken to address these tragedies or the systemic nature of gendered violence, poverty, racism and the lasting effects of colonialism.
The BC First Nations Justice Council supports the recommendations of the national MMIWG enquiry report which revealed that persistent and deliberate human and Indigenous rights violations and abuses are the root cause behind Canada’s staggering rates of violence against Indigenous women and girls.
The BCFNJC’s own strategies are firmly grounded in Indigenous nations having jurisdiction over justice and child protection matters with the intent of transforming the current justice system while helping to craft a new future of self-determined possibilities.
“We must continue to raise our collective voices to say we must do more to stop the ongoing genocide of Indigenous women and girls,” says Scarborough. “Each life taken is someone’s daughter, mother, sister, auntie and grandmother. Each life is worth honoring and remembering.”
Please check your local area for planned activities. More information on the Vancouver march can be found at: https://womensmemorialmarch.wordpress.com/