Women’s March 2018

Deborah Parker, Tulalip tribal member and committed cultural advocate, gives an opening speech at the Women’s March in Olympia.

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News; photos courtesy Theresa Sheldon and Matt Remle

On January 21, 2018, tens of thousands filled the streets of Seattle and Olympia to participate in the Women’s March. Many heard a rallying cry to action that Saturday morning, which coincided with the first anniversary of Donald Trump’s presidency.

The Women’s March is a women-led movement bringing together people of all genders, races, cultures, political affiliations, and backgrounds to affirm our shared humanity and pronounce a bold message of resistance and self-determination. Occurring in its second consecutive year, the highly anticipated Women’s March 2.0 created a powerful campaign to ignite thousands of activists and new leaders.

Theresa Sheldon, Tulalip Tribes Board of Director, (second from left) at the Women’s March.

Indigenous women led the marches in Seattle and Olympia, highlighting the issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women (MMIW). The Indigenous presence, featuring hundreds of proud Natives wearing their traditional tribal regalia supporting families of MMIW victims in attendance, sought to bring awareness to the widespread cases of missing and murdered Indigenous women and colonial gender-based violence in the United States and Canada.

“To my dear relatives, welcome to the Coash Salish territory. Thank you all for being here,” stated Deborah Parker, Tulalip tribal member and committed cultural advocate, in her opening speech. “We stand together united. We stand together with one heart, one mind. We will be singing the Women’s Warrior Song that comes from our First Nations sister’s in British Columbia. During the last verse we raise our fist in solidarity. We raise our fist and we honor the missing and murdered indigenous women from all over these lands. We remember our lost sisters, daughters, aunties, mothers, grandmothers and cousins.”

Indigenous women leading the march in Seattle.

Women’s March 2.0 marked one full year of the U.S. under Trump’s administration, which coincidentally was also the day the federal government shut down because of a budget impasse. The last 365-days has been a year filled with battles over women’s rights, immigration, and health care issues, but also gave rise to the #MeToo social media movement that aimed to demonstrate the widespread prevalence of sexual assault and harassment.

“Absolutely amazing organizing Native women did across Turtle Island in bringing forth the issue of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, and bringing forward the families and loved ones of MMIW for support, healing, encouragement,” described Lakota tribal member and local Native American activist, Matt Remle. “I personally witnessed many tears shed, hugs shared, songs of encouragement sung and good medicine put forward. It was pretty emotional when the families who have had loved ones murdered or go missing were brought on stage to be acknowledged and lifted up. That’s how it should be, supporting, uplifting, encouraging and helping however best one can. That’s powerful and I have absolute love for our [women] across Turtle Island for doing this.”

Across the nation, hundreds of thousands of people gathered in city streets to peacefully demonstrate the power of women and showcase a desire for change. The issues, from reproductive rights to better representation of women of color to awareness for missing and murdered Indegeous women, were as varied as the sign-waving, pink-hat-wearing attendees. However, the​ ​implication was clear: women are poised to take power and they intend to.

Klayton Sheldon urged his mother, Theresa, to join the march.

“Tulalip Tribes was well represented in today’s Women’s March that was dedicated to our Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women. Thankful to see leadership so active,” said Theresa Sheldon, Tulalip Tribes Board of Director, who was urged by her young son, Klayton, to attend the march. “This is the weekend we are remembering and commemorating our 1855 Point Elliott Treaty which was signed on January 22. It’s only appropriate that we take the time to acknowledge our ancestors and those who are still negatively impacted by all the forced federal policies that did not work, but caused great harm. We are resilient and we are healing and growing!”

Hibulb Cultural Center debuts Sing Our Rivers Red

Photo/Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

Photo/Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

 

by Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

The reality.  Since 1980, over 1,181 Native women and girls in Canada have been reported missing or have been murdered. While there isn’t a comprehensive estimate, there are many factors that contribute to the disproportionate number of Indigenous women who are missing and murdered in the United States.

Indigenous women have incurred devastating levels of violence in the United States. According to the US Department of Justice, nearly half of all Native American women have been raped, beaten or stalked by an intimate partner; one in three will be raped in their lifetime; and on some reservations, women are murdered at a rate 10 times higher than the national average. But many factors complicate the reporting and recording of these numbers, including fear, stigma, legal barriers, racism, sexism, and the perpetuation of Native women as sexual objects in mainstream media.

 

This map reflects the diverse community that contributed to the Sing Our Rivers Red earring installation. Over 3,400 earrings were received from over 400 locations for this project – so many that a second installation has been created that will open in Albuquerque this March.

This map reflects the diverse community that contributed to the Sing Our Rivers Red earring installation. Over 3,400 earrings were received from over 400 locations for this project – so many that a second installation has been created that will open in Albuquerque this March.

 

 

The exhibit.  On Friday, January 8, the Hibulb Cultural Center and Natural History Preserve debuted the travelling earing exhibition, Sing Our Rivers Red, created by Diné (Navajo) and Chicana artist Nanibah “Nani” Chacon. The exhibition uses 1,181 single-sided earrings to represent the Indigenous women reported murdered and missing in both Canada and the United States. Nani’s intention is to use the power of this art piece to raise awareness about this epidemic that occurs in the United States and all across Turtle Island. Over 3,406 earring were donated from over 400 people, organizations, groups, and entities from six provinces in Canada and 45 states in the U.S.

Former Board of Director, Deborah Parker, who had an immense role in the 2013 Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) reauthorization, was present to witness the exhibit debut and speak on its importance.

“I thank everyone here for honoring the work that’s been going on, for honoring all the missing and murdered Indigenous women who are represented by these earrings. I know for some of us this is a difficult issue to even talk about,” said Parker. “When we talk about policy, protecting, and justice for missing and murdered Indigenous women there’s not always the words that can be said to fight on behalf of those who cannot speak. I know this is such a somber, such a hard issue to think about, but it’s so important for us to discuss. So I really want to honor each and every one of you who are here tonight because you are part of the story, you are part of the prayers, and I’m hoping and praying you are part of the solution.

“This exhibit is a good way to open up that dialogue and discuss the issues represented in this art and those earrings. We no longer have to remain silent. I strongly believe when we speak of the missing and murdered Indigenous women that we honor them on the other side, we honor their name and their presence. They deserve to be honored and to be talked about in a way that will bring justice because no one deserves to go missing from their families, no one deserves to be murdered. Hopefully, we leave this exhibit feeling motivated to stand up and to speak out for justice.”

Before closing the evening’s debut, several strong and motivated Tulalip women donated earrings and shared words of their importance. The earrings will join the many others that represent and speak for those who can’t speak for themselves.

Board of Director, Theresa Sheldon, was one of those who donated earrings to the exhibit. “Planting those seeds of change right now is just the beginning. Making it a regular conversation with people, finding where it is that you are comfortable to discuss these issues, and learning how to further the conversation helps victims become survivors,” explained Sheldon. “I truly thank you all for answering the call and being here. Please share what you witnessed tonight and carry on the words that were shared and know that you can make a difference. By sharing these messages and breaking the cycle of silence you have that ability to provide opportunities for healing.”

 

Photo/Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

Photo/Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

 

The mission. The Sing Our Rivers Red exhibition and events aim to bring awareness to the epidemic of missing and murdered Indigenous women and colonial-gender based violence in the United States and Canada. The events strive to raise consciousness, unite ideas and demand action for Indigenous women and girls who have been murdered or gone missing, raped, and assaulted, and who have not received the proper attention and justice.

Sing Our Rivers Red stands in solidarity and with collaborative spirit to support the efforts built in Canada and to highlight the need for awareness and action to address colonial gender violence in the United States. The events recognize that each of us has a voice to not only speak out about the injustices against our sisters, but also use the strength of those voices to sing for our healing. Water is the source of life and so are women. We are connecting our support through the land and waters across the border: we need to “Sing Our Rivers Red” to remember the missing and murdered and those who are metaphorically drowning in injustices.

 

Missing. Oil on canvas. From the artist, “I created this piece to honor the lives and memory of unexplained murders and missing Indigenous women of North America. The imagers I chose places a woman amongst a landscape and butterflies. The interaction of the woman and the butterflies has little do with one another in the physical sense; instead, I combine the elements in this painting in an overlapping manner to create cohesion between three violated subjects. The butterflies are a symbol for Indigenous women, which is why they are seen moving through and within the woman. The monarch butterfly has a migratory pattern that spans North America. In recent documentation, the monarch butterfly is also unexplainably dying / missing. In this piece, I wanted to depict the connection between land and women – I see that we are mistreating and killing both. I believe that because there is no respect for the land, there is no respect for women. I believe when one stops, the other will too.”

Missing. Oil on canvas. From the artist, “I created this piece to honor the lives and memory of unexplained murders and missing Indigenous women of North America. The images I chose places a woman amongst a landscape and butterflies. The interaction of the woman and the butterflies has little do with one another in the physical sense; instead, I combine the elements in this painting in an overlapping manner to create cohesion between three violated subjects. The butterflies are a symbol for Indigenous women, which is why they are seen moving through and within the woman. The monarch butterfly has a migratory pattern that spans North America. In recent documentation, the monarch butterfly is also unexplainably dying / missing. In this piece, I wanted to depict the connection between land and women – I see that we are mistreating and killing both. I believe that because there is no respect for the land, there is no respect for women. I believe when one stops, the other will too.”

 

Sing Our Rivers Red will be on display at the Hibulb Cultural Center through the end of the month. For hours and directions, please visit HibulbCulturalCenter.org

 

 

 

 

Breast cancer campaign puts the pink in October for indigenous women

IndigenousPinkDay-web

 

On October 21, AICAF asks men and women of all ages to wear pink and share photos on social media using the hashtag #indigenouspink to spread breast cancer awareness.

 

by Daanis Chosa and Julia Jacobson, Native Times

 

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn — The American Indian Cancer Foundation recently announced the first-ever “Indigenous Pink Day,” a national breast cancer awareness campaign for indigenous women.
On October 21, AICAF asks men and women of all ages to wear pink and share photos on social media using the hashtag #indigenouspink to spread breast cancer awareness, said AICAF Executive Director Kris Rhodes.

“All of America has jumped onto pink October and sometimes it’s done in ways that exploit the cancer issue,” Rhodes said. “But for the American Indian Cancer Foundation, Indigenous Pink is an important way to raise visibility in our communities where cancer is still invisible and to take control with screening.”

Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death and the most common cancer found in American Indian and Alaska Native women. But when breast cancer is found early, the five-year survival rate is 98 percent, according to Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

Barbara Scott, an enrolled member of the Lumbee tribe of North Carolina who lives in Charlotte, was diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer in 2005. Over the next six months, she underwent aggressive chemotherapy and radiation to remove a tumor that had metastasized to her lymph nodes.

“I was ready to give up, I was tired of fighting and wanted to just go home,” Scott said.

Scott was at particular risk for breast cancer, she said, because her mother had breast cancer and her family carries the gene for the disease.

But regardless of a family history, American Indian women shouldn’t be scared of breast cancer and modern medicine, she said.

“We are a resilient people, we have survived for forever, and we can’t let something like breast cancer get into the way,” Scott said. “We need to be warriors and stand strong.”

Chris Davis, an enrolled member of the Fond du Lac band of Lake Superior Chippewa in northern Minnesota, is a nurse practitioner for the Fond du Lac tribe and a breast cancer survivor. She was diagnosed with Stage 0 breast cancer in 2013 and feels fortunate her cancer was caught early.

“I think in the community where we are in, where there are such high rates of cancer, we need to find these cancers early,” Davis said.

Although Davis was recommended to have her first mammogram at age 50, she had her mammogram at age 40. Davis said she may have had a more invasive form of cancer if it was detected later.

“Take your health into your own hands. Utilize your resources and ask as many questions as you can,” she said.

In recent years there has been a tremendous increase in the number of American Indian women who have been screened for breast cancer in Minnesota, said GayLynn Richards, the regional coordinator of Sage, Minnesota’s breast and cervical cancer screening program.

Richards also said there has been a reduction in breast cancer deaths among Minnesota American Indian women over the last decade, according to Minnesota Cancer Surveillance System data.

She credits the lower death rate to programs like the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community mobile unit, which brings mammograms and other screening services directly to the communities where American Indian women live.

“We listen, learn and seek out information from the community members, and together come up with an intervention or educational approach that is respectful,” Richards said. “We love the idea of bringing the services to the community.”

For more information about Indigenous Pink Day, see americanindiancancer.org/pink.

Daanis Chosa (Ojibwe) is a college student, lacrosse player, and community health outreach specialist.

Julia Jacobson is a recent college graduate and communications specialist.

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Indigenous women take climate matters into their own hands

Native American drummers demonstrate at the steps of City Hall during a rally to take strong action on the climate change on February 17, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. David McNewGetty Images

Native American drummers demonstrate at the steps of City Hall during a rally to take strong action on the climate change on February 17, 2013 in Los Angeles, California.
David McNewGetty Images

 

By Justine Calma, Global Post

 

NEW YORK — Not far from the negotiations for a new global development agenda that took place between heads of state at the United Nations General Assembly last month, a small group of female leaders gathered out of the limelight to sign another historic agreement.

The delegation chose not to meet at UN headquarters in east Midtown but on a traditional Native American tribal territory in Central Park’s East Meadow.

Seven women representing eight different tribes signed a treaty to unite the indigenous women of the Americas in friendship to protect the land and people from the harms of climate change and environmental degradation.

In what organizers said was the first-ever indigenous women’s treaty, the women pledged to support the rights of indigenous peoples, commit nonviolent acts of civil disobedience to protect the planet, and demand immediate changes to laws that have led to environmental destruction.

“We’re saying this is the line. We’re done. The destruction stops now,” said Pennie Opal Plant, one of the treaty’s lead signers.

The United Nations recognizes that women are more vulnerable to the effects of climate change because they constitute a majority of the world’s poor and are more dependent on natural resources for their livelihood.

“Women’s role as central stakeholders is one of the most important, yet untold stories of climate change. If we are to have a fighting chance at restoring the health of the Earth and our communities, women’s experiences and knowledge must be brought to the forefront,” said Osprey Orielle Lake, the executive director of Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network (WECAN), at an event where the treaty was later presented.

The signed treaty contends that the laws of Mother Earth “have been violated to such an extreme degree that the sacred system of life is now threatened and does not have the capacity for life to continue safely in the way in which it has existed.”

Opal Plant, who is of the Yaqui, Choctaw and Cherokee tribes, was instrumental in shaping the treaty. She grew up in the shadow of Chevron and Shell refineries in the eastern part of the San Francisco Bay Area, where she saw environmental degradation first-hand. She has organized nonviolent prayer walks in her home city led by Native American elders, but after connecting with other women during a gathering of nature rights advocates in Ecuador 2014, Opal Plant saw opportunity to launch a worldwide movement. She joined several other indigenous leaders from the US and Ecuador — Casey Camp-Horinek of the Ponca tribe, Patricia Gualinga Montalvo and Blanca Chancoso of the Kichwa, and Gloria Hilda Ushigua Santi of the Sápara.

“When women unite and commit to something, shifts happen,” said Montalvo, speaking through an interpreter. “I feel strongly that it’s a time to be heard and for actions to take place.”

Montalvo played a large role in successfully fighting the Ecuadorian government in 2012 in a landmark Inter-American Court of Human Rights case, Sarayaku v. Ecuador, in which the Ecuadorian government was found guilty of rights violations after authorizing oil exploration on Sarayaku lands without prior consultation with the indigenous community.

Opal Plant and her treaty co-signers presented their document at an event hosted by WECAN on Sept. 29, a Global Women’s Climate Justice Day of Action.

Women are disproportionately impacted by climate change, and they are central to solutions, said Orielle Lake at the event.

In the coming months, Opal Plant and her co-signers will create a website to expand the treaty beyond the Americas and allow other groups to sign online. In December, they plan to bring the treaty to COP21, the Paris Climate Conference, and hold another ceremony where more indigenous women leaders will join.

Montalvo’s indigenous community in Sarayaku is constructing a canoe that will travel from Ecuador to France. “The canoe is a symbol of Sarayaku, a symbol of our living forest,” said Montalvo. “We will bring it all the way to Paris so it can navigate the River Seine and so we will be heard.”

In New York, WECAN also presented a Women’s Climate Declaration, which includes a demand to bring back atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations to below 350 parts per million — which many scientists agree is a level that avoids catastrophic global warming — and an aim to ensure that women’s groups have access to funding to adapt to climate change that is already happening. The declaration already has garnered over 2 million signatures and will be delivered at COP21 later this year.

Women comprise 20 million of the 26 million people estimated to have been displaced by climate change, according to a 2010 report by the Women’s Environmental Network.

“I ask that as temperature rises, that we rise,” said Orielle Lake.

Artist to Harper: I Will Tweet One Portrait of a Missing/Murdered Woman Each Day

Portrait by Evan Munday.'Elaine Frieda Alook was 35 when she disappeared on May 11 outside Fort McMurray, Alberta,' writes artist Evan Munday. Portrait by Evan Munday.

Portrait by Evan Munday.
‘Elaine Frieda Alook was 35 when she disappeared on May 11 outside Fort McMurray, Alberta,’ writes artist Evan Munday. Portrait by Evan Munday.

 

 

Indian Country Today Media Network

 

 

Toronto-based cartoonist and illustrator Evan Munday is applying his talents to a campaign to raise consciousness about Canada’s missing or murdered Indigenous women (often referred to as MMIW). Actually, the consciousness he’s interested in raising is that of a specific person: Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Munday has pledged to tweet one portrait of a missing or murdered woman to Harper every day. Here’s how his announcement unfolded on his @idontlikemundayTwitter feed:

Over 1186 indigenous women have gone missing / been murdered in Canada since 1980. There have been outcries for public inquiry. #MMIW (1/3)

Our PM said an inquiry into the missing women ‘isn’t really high on our radar.’ So I’m trying a small thing to make it higher. #MMIW (2/3)

Starting on Jan 5, I’ll tweet @pmharperan illustration of a missing or murdered indigenous woman daily. To adjust his radar. #MMIW (3/3)

Earlier today, as promised, he sent out his first portrait, with the text:

@pmharperElaine Frieda Alook was 35 when she disappeared on May 11 outside Fort McMurray, Alberta. #MMIW 

Here’s the image:

 

'Elaine Frieda Alook was 35 when she disappeared on May 11 outside Fort McMurray, Alberta,' writes artist Evan Munday. Portrait by Evan Munday.
‘Elaine Frieda Alook was 35 when she disappeared on May 11 outside Fort McMurray, Alberta,’ writes artist Evan Munday. Portrait by Evan Munday.

 

This endeavor, which could conceivably go on for over three years, bears some resemblance to a project Munday tweeted in December and has archived on his blog as “December 6, 1989: in Illustrations,”a tribute to the 14 women killed at Montreal’s Ecole Polytechnique 25 years ago.

 

Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2015/01/05/artist-harper-i-will-tweet-one-portrait-missingmurdered-woman-each-day-158558

It’s time to Pull Together

    Heiltsuk-led No Enbridge rally in Vancouver, March 26, 2012. photo by Paul Hodgson http://phodgson.com

Heiltsuk-led No Enbridge rally in Vancouver, March 26, 2012. photo by Paul Hodgson http://phodgson.com

 

By Andrea Palframan, West Coast Native News, September 25, 2014

One year after the Reconciliation Walk brought 70,0000 people into the streets of Vancouver to walk with First Nations, another epic march took place. With a contingent of indigenous women from Canada and around the world leading the way, Sunday’s 400,000-strong People’s Climate March in New York City shone a spotlight on a different kind of indigenous leadership.

The sheer numbers and diversity of those marching alongside aboriginal people— together with countless others who took part in marches around the globe—was a powerful symbol of the shift towards climate justice within the environmental movement.

Some of the most popular images from the New York City march came from the indigenous block, where Leonardo DiCaprio, Edward Norton, and Mark Ruffalo walked, brandishing a “Shut Down the Tar Sands” banner. They want people to get the message that tarsands expansion— and pipelines across B.C. —will bring climate devastation to vulnerable communities the world over.

At home in B.C., stopping the expansion of the tarsands means the Northern Gateway must never be built. Standing together with the First Nations along the pipeline and tanker routes is crucial to realizing that goal. The passion of thousands of British Columbians who have marched and signed pledges to stop the Northern Gateway is being channelled into a new initiative, Pull Together, launched this month.

“I came to New York to talk about the disproportionate vulnerabilities frontline communities face with relation to climate change,” says Melissa Daniels, a lawyer with Woodward & Company LLP and member of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation. She should know: her hometown is Fort Chipewyan, in the epicentre of the tarsands. Throughout her people’s traditional territory, fossil fuel projects are expanding at breakneck speed. The cumulative impacts of oil, gas, and coal projects—from extraction to transportation to climate change—are overwhelming.

“It’s crucial for us to tell our truth, that climate change is directly linked to violence towards indigenous people, violence on indigenous lands, and colonization,” says Erica Violet Lee of Idle No More. Lee’s home province, Saskatchewan, could become a new frontier of the tarsands if the Harper government realizes its agenda to double production by 2022. With tarsands expansion comes water and air pollution, loss of boreal forests and wildlife habitat, climate change and — less apparently— the destruction of indigenous ways of life. “It’s impossible to separate those things, those are our realities. In the environmental movement those discussions haven’t always been welcome.”

The Pull Together approach aims to change that paradigm. Indigenous leaders from across the north have invited help from all corners of B.C. to keep Enbridge out of their traditional territories. The campaign offers a chance to stand and be counted in one of the most important fights of our time.

Though they have invited help from the wider community, the message indigenous leaders are bringing is one of empowerment. Says Lee, who spoke at the opening plenary of the Climate Convergence, “There are so many people in our communities who are fighting these battles on the ground every single day. Connecting with other indigenous people from all over the world really strengthens my resolve in working on those issues. ” The solidarity being fostered—with the covergence of indigenous peoples and allies in initiatives like Pull Together— offers a way forward.

Susan Smitten, executive director of RAVEN (Respecting Aboriginal Values and Environmental Needs), believes that First Nations constitutional rights are the strongest tool there is to fight run-away climate change in B.C. “With the dismantling of so much environmental legislation in Canada, the last —and hopefully inviolable— line of defence is First Nations’ Treaty and Constitutional rights,” says Smitten.

RAVEN are also in New York this week, to attend an international conference aimed at increasing indigenous philanthropy. One goal is to drum up support for a new campaign, Pull Together, that aims to raise $250,000 for five First Nations in B.C. who are taking legal action to stop the Northern Gateway pipeline project.

This new campaign invites the majority in BC who oppose Enbridge to unleash their potential and find fun, empowering ways to raise funds. Just weeks into the campaign, Moksha Yoga has pledged to raise $10,000 through their studios across B.C., while communities from Smithers to Salt Spring have pulled together to raise $25,000.

“Support for Pull Together offers a way for those who stand with First Nations in the fight for climate justice to put their commitments to reconciliation into action,” says Smitten. “It’s great to see people let loose their creative spirit in support of this campaign.”

Thanks to the millions of people who marched worldwide, and to the leadership shown by front lines aboriginal activists this weekend, the climate justice movement has gone viral. Grounding that energy are the commitments that spring from this historic convergence.

Says Melissa Daniels, “the only true reconciliation worth working towards is reconciliation with the natural world. Think in terms of responsibility: to care for the earth so we can sustain ourselves for time immemorial.”

The energy of the climate justice movement is contagious: there has never been a more urgent moment to pull together. To defeat the Northern Gateway project—and keep B.C.’s wild places, and people, alive and kicking—sign on to fundraise, donate, or organize an event at www.pull-together.ca

Tories table plan to stop violence against aboriginal women and girls

Conservatives will devote $25 million over five years to deliver plan

 

By Susana Mas, CBC News, Canada

 

Kellie Leitch, minister of Labour and Status of Women, has tabled the government's action plan to address family violence and violent crime against aboriginal women and girls. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

Kellie Leitch, minister of Labour and Status of Women, has tabled the government’s action plan to address family violence and violent crime against aboriginal women and girls. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

 

The federal government has tabled a plan to address violence against aboriginal women and girls, announced Minister for Status of Women Kellie Leitch as MPs returned to Parliament after the summer recess today.

“We have heard from victims’ families directly and they want action. And that’s precisely what we are delivering,” said Leitch during question period today.

The government has budgeted $25 million over five years to deliver the plan — a commitment first announced in the February 2014 budget.

The plan flows from the 16 recommendations MPs sitting on the Special Committee on Violence Against Indigenous Women made last March.

The $25 million plan, which would run from 2015-20, would include:

  • $8.6 million over five years to support aboriginal communities in developing community safety plans.
  • $2.5 million over five years to help aboriginal people create projects and raise awareness “to break intergenerational cycles of violence and abuse.”
  • $5 million over five years to work with aboriginal communities and stakeholders, as well as aboriginal men and boys, to denounce and prevent violence against aboriginal women.
  • $7.5 million over five years to help victims and their families through the Victims Fund and the Policy Centre for Victim Issues.
  • $1.4 million over five years “to share information and resources with communities and organizations, and report regularly on progress made and results​.”​

The opposition parties continued to call on the Conservatives to heed calls for a national public inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women.

NDP Leader Tom Mulcair said only a public inquiry would get to the root causes of the problem. “There’s still a lot of work than can be done looking at the systemic causes here, and that’s what we’re calling for,” he told reporters on Monday.

Mulcair has said if the NDP were to form the government after the next federal election, it would call a public inquiry within 100 days.

Liberal aboriginal affairs critic Carolyn Bennett denounced today’s plan as “political smoke and mirrors.”

In a statement to CBC News, Bennett said “today’s so-called ‘Action Plan’ simply implements the whitewashed recommendations of the Conservative dominated Special Committee … and is nothing more than a laundry list of existing piecemeal government initiatives, many not even specific to Indigenous women and girls.”

Bennett said the Conservatives should call a “non-partisan” inquiry to find out “why this problem has persisted for decades and why successive governments have been unable to fix it.”

Today’s announcement is in addition to other initiatives the government has said it will support, such as the creation of a DNA-based missing persons database.

‘Am I Next?’ Indigenous Women in Canada Ask Social Media

Holly Jarrett/FacebookHolly Jarrett, cousin of murdered Inuit university student Loretta Saunders, has begun a social media campaign to push for a national inquiry into the issue of missing and murdered indigenous women in Canada.

Holly Jarrett/Facebook
Holly Jarrett, cousin of murdered Inuit university student Loretta Saunders, has begun a social media campaign to push for a national inquiry into the issue of missing and murdered indigenous women in Canada.

 

 

It’s the heartbreaking question of our time, at least in Canada, where indigenous women have begun a social media campaign to draw attention to the prevalence of violence against them.

The movement was started by Holly Jarrett of Hamilton, Ontario, according to CBC News. Jarret is a cousin of Loretta Saunders, a grad student at St. Mary’s University in Halifax, Nova Scotia who was murdered earlier this year, allegedly by her tenants when she went to collect rent. The 26-year-old, pregnant Saunders had been researching the issue of missing and murdered indigenous women in Canada—more than 1,200 unsolved cases over the past few decades, according to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP)—for her thesis when she went missing herself.

Most recently, across the country in Manitoba, the body of 15-year-old Tina Fontaine was pulled from the Red River in Winnipeg in August, wrapped in a bag. The homicide investigation is ongoing.

RELATED: Vigil for Murdered Teen and Homeless Hero Draws 1,300 Mourners in Winnipeg

The call was raised once again for a national inquiry into the issue. Soon after Fontaine’s remains were found, the premiers of all the provinces met with the Assembly of First Nations, the Métis National Council and Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK) and came out advocating for a roundtable. Prime Minister Stephen Harper has long held that an inquiry would not yield any answers and thus was not the way to go.

It’s not just First Nations calling for such an inquiry. President Terry Audla is also advocating for an inquiry, as is Métis National Council President Clément Chartier. Both also attended the meeting with premiers. The premiers as well support the roundtable idea—a meeting with federal ministers to discuss the issue, according to CBC News—and aboriginal leaders have agreed to that as a first step.

Meanwhile across Canada, women are posting selfies of them holding signs bearing the slogan “Am I Next?” and posting them to social media under the #AmINext hashtag, as CTV News reported. There is also a petition at Change.org calling for an inquiry, started as well by Jarrett.

“Our family is Inuit, and Loretta has now become one of the over 1186 missing or murdered Aboriginal women she was fighting for,” wrote Jarrett on Change.org. “It is time for our government to address this epidemic of violence against Aboriginal women. Our family is gathering strength and we will not let her death be in vain. We will fight to complete Loretta’s unfinished work.”

RELATED: ‘Not in Vain’: Family Vows to Finish Murdered Inuit Student’s Research on Violence

 

Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2014/09/09/am-i-next-indigenous-women-canada-ask-social-media-156814

Abused Mohawk woman fears becoming statistic among growing number of missing and murdered

By Kenneth Jackson, APTN National News
The bedside alarm clock said it was 1:58 in the morning.

That’s the exact moment when she was awoken from her bed by a man who had broken into her home and was grabbing her.

Groggy and frightened, as she lived alone with a cat, she thought she was having a nightmare.

She was.

In fact, she’d be living it for several years.

Before the sun would come up she was punched, choked, kicked and threatened to be killed by her ex-boyfriend, a Caucasian who always ridiculed her Indigenous roots.

“He said: ‘Only one of us is going to wake up tomorrow and it’s going to be me,’” the young women recounted to an APTN National News reporter who agreed to protect her identity and some details of the attack because she fears for her safety.

The Mohawk from Tyendinaga thought she was going to die, but somehow was able to survive and call police.

She gave a video statement to police and went to the hospital.

He wasn’t arrested until two days later and was then released from the station. She spent a weekend thinking he was being held for a bail hearing only to find out that wasn’t the case.

She said a police officer refused to tell her they released him.

He was charged with mischief and assault. She questions why he wasn’t charged with more.

She can no longer live in the small town near Ottawa anymore, where the abuser and his family live.

She has to quit her job and move away – far away –  from him.

“It’s not safe for me to be here anymore,” she said. “I don’t want to become a statistic. I don’t want to be another murdered First Nations woman.”

That statistic, which she refers to, is apparently climbing according to a recent study by Maryanne Pearce, an Ottawa researcher, who says she’s compiled over 800 cases of missing and murdered Indigenous women dating back to 1946.

A few years ago that number was pegged at about 600 by the Native Women’s Association of Canada.

Pearce, who is part Mohawk, told APTN her work was done, in part, for her doctorate in law at the University of Ottawa.

“Issues of violence against women are very important to me, so I wanted to help in any way I can,” said Pearce.

Pearce used online media stories, archives and other related work to make her list.

“Most were from 1980 and beyond, and more from 1999 onward,” she said, mainly because the Internet made it easier.

Pearce said she was inclusive and detailed as possible when collecting the date, but is upfront it can’t be 100 per cent.

“Inevitably, I will have missed cases or included case has changed and shouldn’t be there any more,” she said, adding a newspaper recently spotted two in her database that had been found alive.

But her work has sparked others to submit names she never had.

“Since the media began reporting on the research, I have also been sent emails with names or numbers of women that were omitted. One of the cases brought to my attention I have yet to be able to find in any public source,” said Pearce.

Many have called for a national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women, but Prime Minister Stephen Harper has said he won’t call one.

Pearce isn’t necessarily against an inquiry. She does question how it would work.

“I certainly understand the reasons behind calling for a national inquiry. We all want answers and action. While I am not against a national inquiry per se, I have many questions about how it would proceed and function,” she said.

That includes how it will be funded and involve the provinces and territories.

“If we did have an inquiry, would the non-binding recommendations in a report be acted upon, or sit on a shelf?” she wondered.

Still, she hopes her research can attempt to help other work in the area, and try to fill any gaps.

Shawn Brant is also from Tyendinaga, and a well-known Mohawk activist willing to stand up against what he perceives as injustices against Indigenous peoples.

Brant is about to begin a campaign “to force the federal government” to call a national public inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women.

It’s what he calls the first step in a plan to protect Indigenous women in Canada.

“There’s no limit in how far we’ll go to resolve this,” said Brant.

He said that includes “direct conflict” if required.

Brant is aware of the Mohawk woman and her situation.

“I think that she models the circumstances that inevitably lead to tragedy,” he said.

Waiting for Other Shoe to Drop: Exhibit Honors Missing, Murdered Women

Source: Indian Country Today Media Network

“Walking With Our Sisters” is a commemorative art installation for the missing and murdered indigenous women of Canada and the United States.

Representing the unfinished lives of over 600 missing or murdered Indigenous women in Canada, the Walking With Our Sisters project contains only part of a moccasin, the vamp. The vamp, the top part of a moccasin, is most visible and is often beautifully decorated.

Walking With Our Sisters is a commemorative art installation to honor the lives of missing and murdered Indigenous women from Canada and the United States. Organizations such as the Native Women’s Association of Canada have documented nearly 600 cases of murdered and missing indigenous women in Canada that have occurred over the past 20 years. Because of gaps in police and government reporting, the actual numbers may be much higher according to Amnesty International of Canada. Although similar data is not available in the United States, according to the U.S. Department of Justice, American Indian women are 2.5 times more likely than other races to be victims of sexual assault.

A large collaborative installation artwork, Walking With Our Sisters will be presented as a winding path of more than 300 feet of fabric on which the 600 vamps will be laid on the floor. Visitors will have to remove their shoes to walk along a fabric path next to the vamps.

Christi Belcourt, a painter living in Espanola, Ontario of the Otipemiswak/Michif or Métis Nation, came up with the idea while working on a series of paintings to honor women. She paints in acrylic on large canvases depicting floral designs on black background; the images resemble beadwork, she says.

While envisioning her new project, she began noticing the large number of Indigenous women reported missing by friends and family on Facebook.  The lack of response from authorities bothered her as she considered that some of the missing girls were the same age as her 15-year-old daughter.

The idea of creating a work that would at once honor and provoke discussion about the number of missing and murdered Indigenous women emerged. “It just blended together,” she recalls.

At first she considered doing the project alone, but the idea of beading six hundred pairs of moccasin tops was daunting, so she began sending out Facebook messages asking for help. Within days she had commitments from more than 200 people who wanted to create vamps for the project. Soon, the project took on a life of its own; she got inquiries from other artists who wanted to get involved as well as people asking how the installation could be brought to their communities.

Belcourt envisions the installation this way: after cedar is laid down on the floor of the exhibition or gallery space, red cloth will be placed over the top. A gray fabric path will wind over the red cloth, its shape defined by the size and dimensions of the space. The vamps will then be placed on the gray path, allowing people to walk beside them. Tobacco will be available at the entrance to the pathway for those who wish to use it for prayer. People can place the tobacco in a vessel at the exit of the installation.

“The installation becomes a place for prayer,” she explains. “There is also sensory memory that people will take with them after leaving the exhibit. It’s not like walking into a space and just seeing work, you have to experience this.”

Before the exhibit is set up in its first venue—the Haida Gwaii Museum in Haida Gwaii, British Columbia for an August 23 opening—Walking With Our Sisters collective members will feast the vamps in ceremony. This sends a message that the artists are following traditional protocol and will encourage those hosting the installation to honor it with their own traditional ways, according to Belcourt.

Each pair of vamps represents the unfinished life of one woman. Belcourt and the creators of Walking With Our Sisters hope that the experience of walking next to the vamps will have a strong impact on participants and encourage people to begin speaking about the issue of missing and murdered women. “There has been an awful silence around this,” she observes. “There has been a silence by government, by police and by the dominant society; it’s as though Indigenous women’s lives aren’t considered important,” she says.

Belcourt’s hope is that visitors to the installation will be empowered to speak about this to other people and that concern will spread. She notes that there has been a call to the Canadian government for a national inquiry into the issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women. “So far, the government has resisted this call,” she says.

Belcourt and her fellow artists received funding by crowdsourcing via Rockethub, Twitter and Facebook.  So far, they have raised about $5,000, which covers fabric and supplies. “No one is getting paid for this work, it is 100 percent volunteer,” she adds.

So far, the exhibit is booked to tour through 2018 in Canada and the U.S.

Belacourt says that if she receives more than 600 vamps, the “overage” will be incorporated into the project. “It is widely believed that there are more than 600 missing and murdered Indigenous women. The 600 number refers to the cases verified by the Native Women’s Association of Canada,” she notes.

The following description is listed on the Facebook Walking With Our Sisters page under the “about” tab, “This project is about these women, paying respect to their lives and existence on this earth. They are not forgotten. They are sisters, mothers, daughters, cousins, grandmothers. They have been cared for, they have been loved, and they are missing.”

To learn more about Walking With Our Sisters or to make donations, visit the Facebook group page or e-mail Christi Belcourt at WWOS@live.ca.

 

Read more at https://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2013/07/03/waiting-other-shoe-drop-exhibit-honors-missing-murdered-women-150263