(Rally outside Missing Women's Inquiry-Photo Credit UBCIC)
February 14th marks the 21st Annual March in the Downtown Eastside and other marches will be taking place across Canada. It is a day to honour aboriginal woman who have gone missing or were murdered, a day to send messages to the governments and justice system that they need to change and most of all, a day to gather in strength.
Over the years, this march has brought attention to the issue of over 600 murdered and missing women in BC and Canada. On Saturday, a march took place in Victoria where there were over 300 people. There were leaders, youth, woman and children many others who joined ranks to walk in the rain bringing more attention and awareness to this issue. For some it is a chance to grieve and to heal.
Sadly, not much effort has been put into finding missing aboriginal women or solving murder cases so many dedicated leaders, chiefs, woman and others march every year to bring attention to the plight of aboriginal woman who remain missing and/or have unresolved murder cases.
This march along with many other initiatives has brought attention to the issue and now the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is looking into the situation.
Willie Pickton is in jail for some of these murders and the inquiry into why the RCMP and Vancouver police and the justice system took so long to investigate him continues. What recommendations will come out of the inquiry and whether they will be implemented remains to be seen.
It is a shame that in order to get the justice system and the government to react to help find our missing woman, preventing our missing woman from going missing, and doing proper investigations on murdered woman, that we have to go to such lengths to have them do something.
We should not have to march, we should not have to lobby government for years for an inquiry, we should not have to go to the United Nations, it should be the ordinary course of business that our woman are accorded justice and respect.
Until they are, First Nations people, and other supporters will continue to bring prominence to the issues, embarrass the governments, the police, the crown counsel and any other part of the justice system for their inaction and inadequacies and in some cases, their racist attitudes.
These missing/murdered Aboriginal/First Nations women must be honoured and remembered not only on Valentine’s Day but every day. They are woman who are valued as mothers, grandmothers, aunts, cousins, sisters, friends. They are woman who complete the circles of our families. They are woman who build our Nations and uphold our culture and language. They are woman who value Mother Earth. They are human beings. Continuing to support marches, protests, rallies, information sessions, and lobbying governments for change will go a long way to doing that.
There have been many people who have been involved in issues of the murdered and missing woman. I do want to mention Grand Chief Stewart Phillip. In all the years I have known Stewart, he has been a part of this march, has spoken passionately on this issue and lobbied governments for change. I appreciate the efforts Stewart has made to draw attention to our dear woman who need help.
We must find ways to work together to find these missing woman, to resolve outstanding injustices for murdered woman, not only for them, but for their families as well. On February 14th, if you can’t march, send letters to your MP’s, MLA’s, Premiers and Prime Minister and encourage them to do more. Write letters to the editor and help educate more people on the injustices to aboriginal women. Together, we can continue to make a difference and these woman and their families will find peace.
***For those of you in Vancouver, the March starts at 1 p.m. On Feb. 14th at the corner of Main and Hastings womensmemorialmarch.files.wordpress.com/2012/01/memorial-march-poster-2012.pdf