As an indigenous woman, I will be honest I really did not know much about the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW) movement. I was aware of it, but I had never once actually done any research on it or "Googled" it if you will. Now that I am aware of it, I feel a great deal of shame that I never took the time before now to learn and educate myself. I guess that is exactly how I felt about myself once I became vegan, so much shame for the ignorance.
In the last couple of years, I have tried to support my indigenous brothers and sisters more. I am now regularly listening to more indigenous music artists, buying and reading books written by Indigenous people, and taking part in more ceremonies that we hold sacred such as smudging.
When I came across the book Stolen Sisters by Emmanuelle Walter, a journalist that dived into the world of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, I did not know the impact it would have on me, but to be honest it should impact anyone with a heart.
So, if you are not aware of the MMIW movement and why it exists I will explain a little.
The MMIW movement is one that advocates and creates awareness for the end of violence against Indigenous women and has expanded to girls. The movement in various ways wants to spread attention to the high rates of disappearances and the murders of indigenous women. Often you see images of women with a hand covering their mouths, this symbolizes not only that they have been silenced but also the silence of law enforcement and the media.
Between 1980 and 2012 there were reported to be over 1000 murdered indigenous women, however, that is the number that was reported and documented. It is believed to be well over 4000, and that was 10 years ago. That is a homicide rate approx 4.5 times higher than that of all other women in Canada. What are the numbers now? I don't know, I actually cannot find any updated statistics. Not being able to find out an approximate number reveals that there is still little being done about it.
In 2015 the federal government announced a National Inquiry for MMIW as an initiative to end the disproportionally high levels of violence against Indigenous women and girls. The inquiry lasted until 2019, and the final report called lists 231 calls for justice. There is a ton of info of course on these calls and I encourage you to check out the report.
Back to the book, Stolen Sisters. It documents the story of two young Indigenous girls that seemingly disappeared out of thin air one evening. Maisy Odjick and Shannon Alexander. The case was so mishandled and delayed that what evidence could have been obtained was impossible. By the time the authorities did anything the trail was long cold, there was no awareness spread at all by the media, and law enforcement delayed and did the bare minimum. If these were two white girls, their faces would have been splashed all over the news and there would have been a multitude of search parties. Reading this my heart broke, because this is not the story of just two girls, this is the story of thousands.
So, after reading this and then googling more, I said to Van, this is heartbreaking, I feel the need to do something. I found out that every October 4th, there is a Sisters in Spirit vigil held on Parliament Hill. I feel so silly not knowing this was occurring and not going to show support in the past. This year I will be there, and if you live close I hope that you will join me.
Also, May 05 is the National Day of Awareness and Action for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women. In order to spread some awareness, I created a design, on a backdrop of red. Red is the color to wear to spread awareness. So, if you would like to spread awareness and show support, please check out the MMIW collection. 25% of the proceeds will be donated to an MMIW charity. If it is too late at this point to buy from the collection, please wear red anyhow. Canada Day is also coming up, and while I do not celebrate Canada day, I will be wearing red to show my support.
Thanks again for reading, and I highly recommend picking up Stolen Sisters, or the many other books out there about MMIW.
For more information about the MMIW inquiry report please click!