Sisters in Spirit: Honouring the Lives of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women

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This post was provided by Megan Fowler of the Native Women’s Resource Centre of Toronto.

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Honouring the Lives of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women

We are nearing an important time of the year when communities come together across Canada to honour Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW) and stand alongside their families to offer support. With over 1,000 cases of MMIW recorded from 1980 to 2012, according to a recent RCMP report[1], the prevalence of violence towards Indigenous women is a national tragedy. Informed citizens should raise their voices and demand action to prevent the loss of our mothers, aunties, sisters, and daughters.

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Breaking the Stereotypes and Raising Awareness

This tragedy is not only a result of socioeconomic considerations such as poverty, poor housing, and substance abuse, which are factors that the media heavily emphasises, but more accurately as a result of intergenerational trauma, systemic barriers to opportunities and pervasive stereotypes that leave all Indigenous women and girls vulnerable to exploitation and violence, no matter their social status.

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Sisters In Spirit Week

The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) is facilitating the 9th annual Sisters In Spirit Vigil (SIS) and the Native Women’s Resource Centre of Toronto (NWRCT) will host the annual Toronto SIS Vigil, which is one way to educate the public, raise awareness and support families.

On October 4th, 2014, Allan Gardens Park (19 Horticultural Ave), where the annual Sisters in Spirit vigil is held, becomes a space of sharing stories, performances and healing words to acknowledge the national tragedy of violence against Indigenous women and girls. This is a community event attended by hundreds of community members and we encourage everyone to attend to show their support and stand with the families.

This year, NWRCT will be introducing a week of events prior to the vigil, running from September 29th to October 3rd, 2014 that align with the goals of Sisters in Spirit, which is to empower the community to learn about violence prevention, dispel myths and stereotypes, raise awareness in the Toronto area about the experiences of Indigenous women and girls from our local communities, support grieving families and provide opportunities for healing, as well as organizing for social change to put an end to this tragedy. The week of events will include:

  • Monday, Sept. 29, 2014: Understanding the tragedy of MMIW and healing through art.
  • Tuesday, Sept 30, 2014: Media Day- flyers to be handed out to the public with information on SIS and MMIW.
  • Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2014: Sweetgrass Ceremony.  A private ceremony for families and our clients who are affected by MMIW.
  • Thursday, Oct 2, 2014: Amnesty International Toronto letter writing campaign. NWRCT Presentation and Teach-in: Dispelling Myths and Stereotypes about MMIW, featuring Dr. Suzanne L. Stewart and Lee Maracle.
  • Friday, Oct 4, 2013: Social Media Campaign to raise awareness about SIS and MMIW.

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More details on the week of events is available on the Centre’s website.

 

[1] Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women: A National Operational Overview 

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