Honouring Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and 2 Spirit People

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The 11th Annual Memorial March for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. Feb. 14th, 2018.

The Indigenous Women’s Anti-Violence Task Force (IWAVTF) has announced the release of a series of memorial activities and events as part of awareness and a call to action for February 14.

MMIWG2S+ Visual Art Display 

The “Messages of Hope” Window Display in honour of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and 2 Spirit persons is due to be unveiled on Sunday. The window display will run until 5pm on March 9, 2021 at 180 Projects (180 Gore Street). We remind the public to please follow public health guidelines if you choose to walk by the display.

IWAVTF members have creatively and safely curated 4 window displays that visually represent how the community in Baawaating feels about the issue. It demonstrates our interconnectedness over these experiences, including the self-determined, grassroots, and Indigenous-based solutions and ways of healing that respect Indigenous spirit and sovereignty. The display also reflects the perspectives and needs of a diverse group of Indigenous peoples impacted by the ongoing acts of violence Indigenous communities resist and overcome daily. Allies have also shared their messages of how to actively support these actions.

MMIWG2S+SSM  2021 Video

The Annual Murdered Missing Indigenous Women, Girls and 2 Spirit (MMIWG2S+) Memorial March has taken place locally for 15 years. Due to public health measures, this year’s event will take place virtually through a video set to be released on February 14.  The MMIWG2S+SSM 2021 Video will include messages from community leaders and impacted families.  It will be broadcast on ONNTV and SaultOnline on Sunday February 14, 2021 beginning at 12 pm.

The video seeks to honour those impacted by MMIWG2S+, survivors of domestic and systemic violence, and individuals at risk. Women, girls, 2SLGBTQQIA and gender diverse people face disproportionate levels of intimate partner and systemic violence. It is important to honour those we have lost and engage in actions to prevent gender-based and colonial violence. Please tune in and join us in honouring our loved ones–but also in recognizing the bravery and resolve possessed by all who are impacted by this ongoing genocide.

CHILDREN’S SERIES BOOK LAUNCH

“Protecting Our Sacred Body”, “Biwaabigonii’s Hugs From Creator” and “Cree Finds Her Way”

The books are a three part series intended to traditionally educate children on the importance of “Our Sacred Spirit”, consent, respect, personal boundaries, and connecting to creation.  Copies will be distributed locally.  Previews of the books with the authors will be available via the IWAVTF Facebook page on February 14.

Many Indigenous women and children experience sexual violence from the legacy of residential schools. One root cause to the overrepresented number of Indigenous women and girls going missing or being murdered is the normalization of violence experienced by Indigenous girls from an early age. Prevention begins with addressing the adverse early childhood experiences by encouraging children to use the power of their voices.  The book series focuses on “spirit” and that each child is a gift from Creator.

The Indigenous Women’s Anti-Violence Task Force (IWAVTF) of Baawaating is a grassroots Indigenous-led collective that is committed to ending all forms of violence and protecting the honour and value of all Indigenous women, girls, 2 Spirit and gender diverse people through culturally-safe responses.

The Native Women’s Association of Canada’s 2010 research found that most of the cases occur in Ontario, affecting all ages and walks of life. Statistics Canada (2011) reported rates of violence against Indigenous women is three times higher than for non-Indigenous women, and seven times higher for homicide rates. The grief and loss of our ‘sisters’ transmit to our home First Nation communities; these impacts remain and intergenerational traumas continue.

Sault Ste. Marie rests in the heart of Northern Ontario, along the Trans Canada Highway 17, with this major route into and out of our city.  According to the 2016 Census, self-identified Indigenous peoples make up 11% of Sault Ste. Marie’s population.  The fact is, gendered and colonial violence implicates all of us who live on Indigenous land and territories.

The IWAVTF is aware of trafficking along the North Shore that has resulted in missing reports and eventually murder cases in major Ontario cities and even across Canada. Sault Ste. Marie is nestled between Lake Huron and Lake Superior, a major shipping route. The Garden of Truth Report from Duluth Minnesota identified the trafficking of Indigenous women occurring along those routes.

Sault Ste. Marie City Council, working in good faith as our allies, proclaimed February 14, 2021 as a Memorial Day to remember Indigenous Women and Girls. We remind our allies that we are all Treaty People, and that we all need to continue our dialogue and engage in actions to heal the wounds inflicted by colonialism. We can prevent more violence by doing things differently moving forward. We encourage all to do our part to continue to learn about how the dehumanization of Indigenous peoples, the value of women and culture has led to Murdered and Missing Indigenous women, girls, 2 Spirit and gender diverse people. Let’s work together to make a better community for all.