Across Canada today, thousands of people are gathering to remember the 700 or more aboriginal women who have disappeared or been murdered over the past two decades, the majority of them still cold cases.
In Ottawa the grassroots group Families of Sisters in Spirit will hold its second annual Day of Justice Rally on Parliament Hill starting at noon, “standing in solidarity with the Annual Women’s Memorial March in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, as well as events in Penticton, Kelowna, Merritt, Victoria, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Thunder Bay, Toronto, London and Montreal,” the group said in a statement, referring to the events taking place nationwide to bring attention to the problem of Canada’s vanishing aboriginal women.
“Aboriginal women and families have been on the frontline all along trying to expose violence against indigenous women and its deep seated roots as well as to bring about change,” said Bridget Tolley, a co-founder of Families of Sisters in Spirit. “It has been more than 519 years that our women are still resisting colonial violence against us, our people, our nation and our land. It is the longest social movement in North America. To end violence for all people, aboriginal women must be at the epicenter of the solution.”
The rally begins at noon with the Minwaashin Women’s Drum Group and an opening prayer and address by Anishinabe Elder Albert Dumont. Also speaking will be Chief Gilbert Whiteduck, Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg First Nation; Cheryl Maloney, President of Nova Scotia Native Women; the family of Hilary Bonnell from Esgenoôpetitj-Burnt Church Mi’kmaq First Nation, New Brunswick, and Dave Kelleher of Amnesty International. Lillian Roberts of KAIROS and the faith community will also speak, followed by a rendition of the song “600 Roses” by the Ottawa Raging Grannies.
Vancouver is holding its 21st Annual Women’s Memorial March starting at 10:30 a.m. at Carnegie Patio, and in Toronto the sixth annual Rally & March for Missing & Murdered Indigenous Women will begin at 12:30 p.m. with a rally outside police headquarters, followed by a “feast” at a community center, according to the National Union of Public and General Employees.
On January 13, a rally was held outside the site of the hearings that are in progress before the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry, charged with dissecting the investigation into serial killer Robert Pickton, who was allowed to operate unfettered in the early 2000s while police fumbled. Below are two snippets of that rally, courtesy of The Straight.