February 14th declared the official day to honour and remember Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women
Show up in front of Sault Ste. Marie's courthouse on February 14th at 11:30a.m. to show your solidarity
By: Kailyn Morrar
On February 14th, across the country, Canadians will gather to honour Indigenous women, girls, two spirit, and gender non-conforming people.
For the 12th consecutive year, the people of Sault Ste. Marie will meet in front of the courthouse to express their solidarity for the disproportionate number of Indigenous women and girls who have gone missing and have been murdered. Nationally and globally, this remains a persistent issue. It's roots can be traced back to an ongoing history of colonization.
Members of the Sault Ste. Marie community are being called to action. They are being asked to pay this day as an opportunity to create both meaningful, and ongoing change regarding the persistence of colonial violence that has led to a disproportionate amount of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, girls and gender-non-conforming people in Canada and across the globe. At the event, attendees will listen to guest speakers, drumming and prayers to honour those who have gone missing or who have been murdered and their families.
In a recent declaration, Sault Ste. Marie’s mayor Christian Provenzano declared February 14th to be an, “Opportunity for Indigenous and non-indigenous peoples of all genders and ages to gather and stand in solidarity. To remember, honour, and grieve those who have passed on or who have gone missing.” Further, Provenzano encouraged residents of Sault Ste. Marie to attend this event.
As highlighted by the Indigenous Women’s Anti-Violence Task Force (IWAVTF), while 4.3% of Canada’s population consists of Indigenous women, 16% of them are homicide victims. The majority of those who have gone missing, 88%, were mothers. Moreover, inefficient attention has been paid to these cases leaving nearly half of these cases documented by the Native Women’s Association of Canada unsolved. These statistics are outrageously disproportionate. They are more than likely a result of deeply entrenched systemic racism that shamefully exists within our country.
Members of the IWAVTF have organized this event with the commitment to end all forms of violence. Particularly, their vision states that they are dedicated to, “Restoring and protecting the honour and value of all Indigenous women in Baawaating through culturally-safe responses.”
The event is inclusive to all peoples of all identities and abilities. There will be counselling services available on this day for those who are indirectly and directly experiencing violence.
During the march, you will notice red dresses hanging throughout the street. This is in part of The Red Dress Project created by Jamie Black, an “emerging Métis multidisciplinary artist based in Winnipeg.”
Black created The Red Dress Project as, "An aesthetic and creative response to this national crisis." She hopes that by seeing these dresses will help people gain a different perspective, evoke dialogue, create a space for reflection, and to “Draw attention to the gendered and racialized nature of the crimes committed against Indigenous women everywhere.”
Come out and march tomorrow to show your ongoing solidarity and commitment to eliminating the issue of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.
Links to resources and additional information:
Red Dress Project - http://www.redressproject.org/?page_id=27
IWAVTF - https://www.facebook.com/IWAVTF/
Sault Online Article - https://saultonline.com/2019/01/12th-annual-memorial-march-for-missing-and-murdered-indigenous-women/ SSM Canadian Mental Health Association - https://www.northeasthealthline.ca/displayService.aspx?id=171198