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

 

 

 

 

Murdered and missing aboriginal women deserve inquiry, rights group says

Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has been studying issue in B.C. for 2 years

 

The Inter-American Commission, which is affiliated with the Organization of American States, has issued a report on murdered and missing indigenous women. (Fred Chartrand/Canadian Press)

The Inter-American Commission, which is affiliated with the Organization of American States, has issued a report on murdered and missing indigenous women. (Fred Chartrand/Canadian Press)

By: CBC News

 

A report into missing and murdered indigenous women in B.C. is breathing new life into an acrimonious debate between advocates of a public inquiry and the Canadian government, which says it is taking action to address the problem but refuses to call an inquiry.

The report by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), which is affiliated with the Organization of American States, said it “strongly supports the creation of a national-level action plan or a nationwide inquiry into the issue of missing and murdered indigenous women and girls.”

The report came to several conclusions, including:

  • The high numbers of missing and murdered aboriginal women in B.C. are concentrated in Prince George and the Downtown Eastside.
  • The police have “failed to adequately prevent and protect indigenous women and girls from killings and disappearances.”
  • Multiple policing jurisdictions in B.C. have resulted in “confusion” between the RCMP and Vancouver police.

The report acknowledged the steps already taken by Canadian governments at both the federal and provincial levels to address some of the problems and challenges that indigenous women face.

Last fall, the federal government committed to a five-year plan to address violence against aboriginal women and girls.

Today, the office for Kellie Leitch, the minister for the status of women, said the government was reviewing the report.

“Our government has received the IACHR’s report and is reviewing the report’s findings, comments and recommendations.”

The report’s recommendations include calls for:

  • Providing a safe public transport option along Highway 16 in Prince George.
  • Mandatory training for police officers, prosecutors, judges and court personnel “in the causes and consequences of gender-based violence.”
  • A national plan or public inquiry in consultation with indigenous peoples.

NDP aboriginal affairs critic Jean Crowder said it was “unconscionable” for the government to ignore growing calls for a public inquiry.

“It is time for the prime minister and [Aboriginal Affairs Minister] Bernard Valcourt to stop ignoring the sociological phenomenon of missing and murdered indigenous women and take federal action to address the crisis,” Crowder said in a written statement.

Liberal MP Carolyn Bennett also urged the government to heed the report’s recommendations.

“The prime minister’s shocking indifference to this ongoing tragedy is not only a national disgrace, but an international embarrassment,” Bennett said in a written statement.


CANADA'S MURDERED ABORIGINAL WOMEN

Mobile users, view a chart of homicide rates among Canadians vs. aboriginal women

 


The IACHR has been studying the issue for more than two years.

 

Its investigation was requested by the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) and Feminist Alliance for International Action (FAFIA) in March 2012.

At a press conference in Ottawa to respond to the report, Dawn Harvard of the NWAC called it “truly groundbreaking.”

“This report is the first in-depth examination of the murders and disappearances by an expert human rights body. These women and girls are being stolen from our families, from our communities, and it is time that somebody is taking it seriously,” Harvard said.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper said in reaction to the recent slaying of Tina Fontaine that the issue of missing and murdered indigenous women was not part of a “sociological phenomenon,” but rather a crime and should be treated as such.

Holly Johnson, of the Feminist Alliance for International Action, said the commission has spoken “loudly and clearly.”

“Canadian governments have a lot of work to do,” she said. “Contrary to our prime minister’s assertion, that this is not a sociological phenomenon … [It] goes way beyond policing. Social and economic factors must also be addressed.”

The report includes recommendations on how governments at both the federal and provincial/territorial level can address the situation.

The Conservative government has so far refused calls for a national public inquiry on the issue, saying it is more interested in taking action. Last month, when CBC’s Peter Mansbridge asked the prime minister about launching a public inquiry, Harper said: “It isn’t high on our radar, to be honest.”

“The actions Harper is prepared to engage in are very slim, uncoordinated,” said Sheila Day, chair of the FAFIA human rights committee, at a press conference held by FAFIA and the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs. Day said the report makes it clear that the consultation and participation of indigenous women and associations is essential.

At the press conference, Grand Chief Stewart Phillip said the fundamental issue is racist attitudes toward indigenous women and girls. “We are going to continue to pursue this issue until there is justice,” said Philip.

Canada’s premiers are expected to hold a national roundtable on murdered and missing aboriginal women on Feb. 27 in Ottawa.

 

DOCUMENT

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

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.

Reports contradict Stephen Harper’s view on aboriginal women victims

Prime minister said issue of missing, murdered aboriginal women is not “sociological phenomenon”

 

Prime Minister Stephen Harper recently dismissed renewed calls for a national inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women such as Maisy Odjick (left) and Shannon Alexander (right). "We should not view this as a sociological phenomenon." said Harper. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

Prime Minister Stephen Harper recently dismissed renewed calls for a national inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women such as Maisy Odjick (left) and Shannon Alexander (right). “We should not view this as a sociological phenomenon.” said Harper. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

 

By Jennifer Ditchburn, The Canadian Press

 

Dozens of federal, provincial and community studies compiled by the Conservative government appear to contradict the prime minister’s contention that the problem of missing and murdered aboriginal women isn’t a “sociological phenomenon.”

But some in the aboriginal community don’t quibble with the government’s other main response to calls for a public inquiry — that there has been more than enough research.

Officials point to a non-exhaustive list of 40 studies conducted on the issue between 1996 and 2013.

A closer look at the research shows that in nearly every case, the authors or participants highlight the “root” or systemic causes of violence against aboriginal women and their marginalization in society.

The legacy of colonization, including the displacement and dispossession linked with residential schools and other policies, are cited frequently in the reports. The impact of poverty and lack of housing are also cited as root causes of violence against aboriginal women.

“There are root causes of violence in the aboriginal communities that include things like poverty and racism and this is why it’s incredibly important for us to work with organizations, aboriginal organizations, across the country…,” Rona Ambrose, then status of women minister, told a parliamentary hearing in 2011.

Harper has offered a different perspective.

“I think we should not view this as sociological phenomenon. We should view it as crime,” he said last month.

 

Harper North 20140821Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper rejected renewed calls for an inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women in Canada. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

 

“It is crime, against innocent people, and it needs to be addressed as such.”

The government’s related position has been that there have been enough studies — the focus needs to be on action.

“What we don’t need, is yet another study on top of the some 40 studies and reports that have already been done, that made specific recommendations which are being pursued, to delay ongoing action,” Justice Minister Peter MacKay said last week.

Some aboriginal advocates agree there is enough research

Some inside the aboriginal community agree there have been enough studies, but there are varying opinions on whether an inquiry would just go over the same ground.

One 2005 report prepared by three B.C. community groups, entitled “Researched to Death,” pointed to the “striking similarities” in research and recommendations done up to that point.

“The only outstanding element is action,” the authors wrote.

Dawn Harvard, president of the Ontario Native Women’s Association, agrees there has already been substantial research on the sociological causes of violence against aboriginal women.

‘I don’t necessarily agree with just having more research for the sake of research.’– Kate Rexe, Sisters in Spirit

But she says a national inquiry wouldn’t be about the sociology, but rather about determining what specific policies and initiatives are needed to address specific community problems — in-depth research that smaller groups don’t have the resources to do.

“The sociological studies have identified that there is a problem, so your inquiry is going to get into the nitty-gritty nuts and bolts of what is this problem all about,” said Harvard.

“And one would hope that therefore we would have a much more effective response when we come out of it.”

For Michelle Audette, president of the Native Women’s Association of Canada, an inquiry would be an accountability exercise in a non-partisan forum — akin to the Gomery commission on the sponsorship scandal or the current Charbonneau commission into corruption in Quebec’s construction industry.

 

Premiers and aboriginal leaders 20140827Aboriginal leaders agreed to a roundtable discussion to address the problem of missing and murdered aboriginal women and girls last month in Charlottetown, PEI. (Andrew Vaughan/Canadian Press)

“Do we do another research (report)? No,” said Audette. “But this inquiry will bring us together and say, why didn’t we implement those (prior) recommendations? Why are we not putting in place legislation that will force our police forces to automatically exchange data?”

Kate Rexe, who worked on the Sisters in Spirit research and policy initiative on missing and murdered aboriginal women, takes a different perspective.

She says that while an inquiry would provide public recognition for the victims’ families, it won’t necessarily reach the required level of detail.

“If we’re looking at a 30-year time span over a number of different police services, in various communities that have had varying levels of response of police to the families and the communities, you’re not going to get the answers that you would hopefully need,” said Rexe.

“I don’t necessarily agree with just having more research for the sake of research.”

6-year-old Bremerton girl still missing

This undated photo provided by the Kitsap County Sheriff's Office shows Jenise Paulette Wright. Kitsap County sheriff's deputies are searching for Jenise, 6, who is missing and was last seen Saturday night, Aug. 2, 2014, at her home in east Bremerton, Wash. Jenise is 3 feet tall, weighs 45 pounds and has black hair. She'll be a first-grader this coming school year. Photo: Uncredited, AP

This undated photo provided by the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office shows Jenise Paulette Wright. Kitsap County sheriff’s deputies are searching for Jenise, 6, who is missing and was last seen Saturday night, Aug. 2, 2014, at her home in east Bremerton, Wash. Jenise is 3 feet tall, weighs 45 pounds and has black hair. She’ll be a first-grader this coming school year. Photo: Uncredited, AP

By: Associated Press, Tuesday, Aug 5

BREMERTON, Wash. (AP) — Searchers worked through the night, looking for a 6-year-old girl who disappeared from her Bremerton home.

But a Kitsap County sheriff’s dispatcher says Tuesday morning there’s still no sign of Jenise (juh-NEES’)Wright.

She was last seen Saturday night but not reported missing until Sunday night.

A spokesman for the sheriff’s office, Deputy Scott Wilson, says the circumstances are suspicious.

The parents have agreed to take lie detector tests to help with the investigation.

On Monday, state child welfare workers removed two other children from the home, an 8-year-old boy and 12-year-old girl.

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.