cole_at_womens_march_2012.pdfWhat better day of the year than Valentine’s to remember, honour and bring attention to the over 1200 Indigenous women that have gone missing or were murdered without justice. Valentine’s day marks the day that there are marches across the country that visit places where women went missing, to lend a voice to the issue of our precious loved ones gone missing or murdered without resolve.
This year will be different, maybe a sense of optimism, or at least anticipation of what a National Inquiry on Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women will look like and that it will lead to radical systemic changes that will prevent further precious indigenous women from going missing or getting murdered.
I say radical because it will take radical action on the part of government, First Nations, educational institutions and all people to eradicate racism, superiority over indigenous women, overcoming the colonial mindset, lifting indigenous people out of poverty and leaving violence behind. All of this is easier said than done.
For many families of the missing and murdered indigenous women, the news of a public inquiry has been welcome. Some are skeptical that real change can actually happen. Having the 3 Federal Ministers that are women going into various city centres to listen to the families and listening to their story and what they need for their healing, peace of mind and closure has been very hard. Opening up the grief, the pain, the loss, the anger, the hopelessness and frustration for these families has not been easy and then to participate again in an inquiry makes these families relieve what happened to their loved one over and over again. And for what? Hopefully that their will be findings and recommendations that will be implemented immediately so that no other indigenous women will go missing or murdered. An immense job and expectations for the Liberal government to fulfill.
It will be the government that will put in place the Terms of Reference, appoint the commissioners, supply the money. It is the government that will bear the burden of a successful inquiry, one carried out in the way the families know will be one they can believe in, independent and fair. Independent from government will be critical to the success of the inquiry. One wrong move could destroy the credibility of the proposed inquiry and the confidence of the families and the public.
Now there is some movement to include missing and murdered men in the inquiry design. The focus for years has been on missing and murdered women. The lobby has been for missing and murdered women. Another really important issue to be sure, but can the inquiry include both men and women when the issues against women are very different? Definitely, the racism, superiority and colonialistic attitudes are the same.
I think if the Federal government is going to do an inquiry on men and women they should ensure that there is enough resources for both issues. If there isn’t enough money for both, then women should come first with plans to do men in the next year or two when there is the necessary resources.
I would also recommend that there be two inquiries at the same time. The women’s inquiry must be separate from the men because the issues are different. There is just so much work for an inquiry on missing and murdered women and you don’t want to lengthen the inquiry for too long when the issues are so pressing. Also, you don’t want to overburden the commissioners with too much work and information so that they become ineffective. There would be collaboration between the two inquiries of course especially on common issues. I would insist on these conditions before a missing and murdered men’s inquiry is launched.
There are so many issues that have been lingering because of the inattention of previous federal governments and priorities have to be set. Hearing from the families on setting priorities is key.
Today, in downtown Vancouver, the 26th Annual March will take place with thousands of people in attendance. According to the Women’s Memorial March Committee “Increasing deaths of many vulnerable women from the Downtown Eastside still leaves family, friends, loved ones, and community members with an overwhelming sense of grief and loss. Indigenous women disproportionately continue to go missing or be murdered with minimal action to address these tragedies or the systemic nature of gendered violence, poverty, racism, or colonialism.
Today in Victoria and other cities, other marches will take place.
Today, you can make a difference by attending one of the marches close to where you live.
Today, you could fill out the survey for Missing and Murdered women on line at http://www.aadnc-aandc.gc.ca/eng/1448637991710/1448638013197
Today, you can inform yourself on the issues surrounding the Missing and Murdered indigenous women. Educate yourself, or educate yourself more fully. Talk to others and educate others.
Today and into the future, you can join the voices for justice, for addressing the eradication of racism, superiority and colonialistic attitudes toward indigenous women.
Together, we can stop the violence and make a safer world for indigenous girls and women. Together we can make a difference. Together we can push the Canadian government to put together a meaningful inquiry and then to implement the recommendations.
Today, don’t let Valentine’s just be about a hallmark occasion. Today, Increase your circle of love, care and concern to include indigenous women everywhere, especially those that have gone missing or have been murdered. Let’s make positive change for the future generations.