No more Stolen Sisters

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                                                  REMINDER:  VANCOUVER ANNUAL WOMEN'S MEMORIAL MARCH                  

                                                                FEBRUARY 14th  12:00 noon  Meet at Main and Hastings

Today (February 12, 2017) was a good day.  Why was it so good? Because today I marched in the Stolen Sister Memorial March in Victoria BC with approximately 1000 like minded people.

Today we gave voice to our sisters that were taken through some form of violence,  were murdered and are still missing.These sisters were stolen from their families, their communities and from their own lives and futures.

For too many years indigenous women have gone missing and the police and the justice system put little effort into finding out why and working with indigenous communities to prevent further violence and having our young girls and women disappear.

For years, indigenous communities have been asking for a National inquiry to determine what the flaws are in the justice system. Is it just an uncaring police force who place little or no value on indigenous women?  Is it the lack of know how on how to do the investigations?  Is it financial issues?  Why are indigenous women not a priority when there are so many missing?  These and other questions are good to ask but more importantly, to find the answers.  

Finally, finally, a national inquiry has been put in place and after almost 7 months of organization, will start doing its work.  People have been very perturbed the inquiry has taken so long to begin. Criticisms are coming from many quarters on the length of time it has taken to put the process in place, or that the proposed inquiry will not have sufficient trauma trained commissioners and workers. Hopefully once the inquiry begins, people will see there is movement and see what can be done.  

Another issues on top of those alredy mentioned is the fact that the inquiry announced they will be including men and boys.  It is the women who have worked so hard for an inquiry and then the men get to get tagged on and for some this is problematic. Indigenous men and boys are important too, but does the inquiry have enough staff? Expertise? Time? Resources? to expand the inquiry exponentially?  Are the issues so different that it will difficult to address all the pertinent issues or are they the same?  Only time will tell but this is another issue that is being talked about out in the communities.

It has been acknowledged that steps need to be taken now to prevent more women from going missing.  Steps must be taken to bring closure to the families as to what happened to their loved ones sooner than the end of the inquiry.  Evaluations must take place to find out why the mechanisms that are in place are broken or not working and make the necessary changes.

Many years later we are still marching.  We are still walking the streets of Victoria and Vancouver and many other cities to let people know that we are still very concerned about our beloved missing sisters.  We walk to let those women know that we remember and will never forget them and will continue to fight for justice for them until we find them.  We know some of the responsibility is ours to make changes in our communities.  We know there is responsibility in the police force and courts to change but we will make sure it gets done. We know there is responsibility with governments to work with us to find the solutions and for them to be accountable for their inaction over the years.  

The number of people who are walking in the Stolen Sister March in Victoria, Vancouver and other cities is growing.  More and more non indigenous supporters are working with us.  People care.  People want to see a difference. There is power in this growing movement and police and governments need to be responsive to ensure there is positive action.

 Only with great pubic oversight, determination, and commitment will things change.

Today was a good day because I walked with many people who are fed up with the lack of concrete action and want to see more happen at a faster pace.  Today was a good day because I was in the circle of women drummers and felt their strength and power.  Today, we heard stories from families who have lost their mother, sister, aunt, grandmother or friend and our hearts cried out with theirs.  It made us more determined to change the course of the world.

I hope our stolen sisters felt the reverberations of our drums, were empowered by our songs and know that we are working for them to bring them peace and closure. I hope the federal and provincial governments understand that the power of the people shall push them to work with our communities to find solutions, to change the systems that continue to oppress and colonize indigenous women and girls.  I hope those that had to wait in traffic respected what we were doing and will take time out of their day to find out the reasons why we were doing what we did. 

 It is a good day when we can bring attention to stopping violence that should not be acceptable in any community. May each of us take on that responsibility and there will be no more Stolen Sisters.

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