Monday, December 6, 2010


Today is the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women in Canada. Twenty-one years ago, fourteen women were murdered and another ten injured by gunman, Marc Lepine. Lepine claimed he was "fighting feminism"; today is the day we remember those women and remember that there are hundreds of thousands of women worldwide who are the victims of violence everyday. From honour killings to female genital mutilation, from domestic abuse to rape, a lot of women are fighting every minute for survival and those who aren't should be fighting for those who can't.

A post over at Black Coffee Poet got me thinking that while it is incredibly important to always keep the victims of the Montreal Massacre and that violence against women knows every level of education, every creed, every race; it is equally important to remember that, in Canada, the statistics concerning violence and Aboriginal women are truly horrendous.

Over the past twenty years, over 582 Inuit, Metis and First Nations' women have gone missing or been murdered. 582. Law enforcement and the Canadian government have done precious little to find the missing women, solve the murder cases or help prevent these horrific crimes. And now, the Harper government is actually pulling back whatever tiny amount of help they did offer.

Sisters in Spirit, an initiative of the Native Women's Association of Canada, offers support to the families of victims, does research on and keeps a database of all the women affected and works to draw attention to the plight of the missing and murdered women on the national and international stage. Now, after five years, the Harper government has refused Sisters in Spirit special project status and transfered their portfolio under the umbrella of the office of Status of Women. Once again, the Canadian government has marginalized the Aboriginal community.

This issue has never been a priority before so what has changed? Taking over the Sisters in Spirit mandate and merging it with all other issues concerning all Canadian women is not going to draw more attention, is not going to prioritize the familiar tragedy constantly befalling Aboriginal communities. Keeping up with the 500+ year tradition, Indigenous people are once again being denied their right to stand up for themselves and their identity as a people.

These women were daughters, sisters, mothers, nieces, cousins, friends. They are human beings; they deserve to be treated with dignity, respect; they deserve, their families deserve closure. So, with the memory of the Montreal Massacre fresh in our minds, think also of all those lost Indigenous women, all beloved and special, still denied justice.

Links for more information and ways to get involved:

Also, write to your MP and to Stephen Harper to express the importance of the Sisters in Spirit initiative and urge them to rethink taking away their funding.

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