Honouring National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women During COVID Pandemic

(Pictured: October 2019 Red Dress Dedication in the Alberta legislature: from Facebook).

(May 5, 2020) – Today marks the National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls and, under normal circumstances, people across Canada would be preparing marches, demonstrations, and memorials for the lives lost to an ongoing crisis of systemic violence.

“Many people across Turtle Island are wearing red today to remember the women and girls who have gone missing from our communities, and whose lives were lost. My heart is with all those who have had their mother, daughter, auntie, cousin, friend, grandmother, or granddaughter go missing, and never return home,” stated Assembly of First Nations Alberta Regional Chief Marlene Poitras.

“We stand in solidarity with victims, survivors, and their families, and once again call for action to bring an end to the violence against Indigenous women and girls that continues to be endemic in this country, and across North America.

“When we talk about this issue, it is so critical that we take the time to keep the memories of those we lost alive, and voices of survivors and families at the forefront. That is why days of awareness, remembrance, and action are important. We cannot forget about these injustices and that we all have a role to play in bringing an end to this ongoing tragedy.”

Regional Chief Poitras urges everyone across Canada to remember that the National Inquiry Into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls made 231 calls for justice directed at all governments, sectors, and people in society.

“I encourage everyone to familiarize themselves with these calls for justice and do what you can to support survivors and their families,” she remarked.

“Write to your leaders, MLAs, and MPs, and ask what they and their governments are doing to fulfill these calls for justice, and take action to protect our women and girls. As the commissioners have said, what carries these calls to justice and action now is hearing from the voices of those who have lived experience. Whenever we work through solutions, we must always ensure that we are being guided by survivors and their families.”

“As COVID-19 has brought a halt to public and mass gatherings, it is absolutely essential to address and remember the cultural genocide of Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA+ individuals that must be stopped. Rates of domestic violence and abuse are rising on a global scale due to the social distancing and isolation measures in effect.

“Canada and B.C. must continue to ensure the appropriate resources, services, funding, and supports are in place and accessible to the countless Indigenous women, girls, and individuals facing situations of inescapable and intensified violence during the pandemic.

“The pandemic and its accompanying challenges have served to highlight the violence in Canada that has torn apart Indigenous communities and families for generations,” stated Kukpi7 Judy Wilson, Secretary-Treasurer of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs (UBCIC).

“During this time of social distancing and isolation, when we are unable to meet and heal and support one another in person, it is vital we continue to raise our voices, hands, and hearts to the lives that have been lost to violence that is underpinned by a colonial legacy of discrimination, racism, and sexism.

“We must also take the time to acknowledge and raise our hands to the frontline organizations and workers who are still tirelessly supporting and protecting Indigenous women, girls, and other vulnerable community members during this difficult time. In a time of social distancing, we must remain connected and look out for one another,” stated Melissa Moses, UBCIC Women’s Representative.

If you fear for your safety or are in immediate, please call 911. If you are not in immediate danger, please refer to the links and resources below:

Call VictimLink BC at 1-800-563-0808 for information about all services that are available throughout the Province. In Alberta, call the Family Violence Information Line: 310-1818 to get help anonymously in more than 170 languages.

In British Columbia, Battered Women’s Support Services can assist with emotional support, safety planning, and legal advocacy

    • Call at 604.687.1867 or toll free at 1-855-687-1868
    • If you’re unable to speak safely, please text 604-652-1867 or email [email protected]

Ending Violence Association of BC: https://endingviolence.org/need-help/

In Alberta call the provincial abuse helpline: 1-855-4HELPAB (1-855-443-5722) for assistance in more than 100 languages from 7:30 am to 8 pm, Monday to Friday and the Child Abuse Hotline: 1-800-387-KIDS (5437) for help 24/7.

National Inquiry’s report on MMIWG: https://www.mmiwg-ffada.ca/final-report/:

National Indigenous Women’s Resource Centre https://www.niwrc.org/

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