Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women

A collection of opinions and perspectives on the issues impacting you. Postings are from a variety of sources including our staff or other media.

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Women's March Vancouver

Women’s Marches demand justice for the disappeared

David P. Ball - Windspeaker

Knock, knock, Mr. Harper.

Long-time women’s advocate Gladys Radek wasn’t surprised when the Prime Minister didn’t answer the door of his Parliament Hill office on Valentine’s Day when missing women’s family members called hoping for a meeting. It was in the wake of a blistering Human Rights Watch report, which alleged police were themselves among the perpetrators of violence against women.

But as Women’s Memorial Marches were held across the country to honour an estimated more than 600 missing and murdered women, the organizer with Families of Sisters in Spirit held a faint hope that Harper might at least acknowledge the growing crisis.

“Every day we hear a new story, a new injustice,” said Radek, who co-founded Walk4Justice following her niece Tamara Chipman’s 2005 disappeared along B.C.’s Highway of Tears. “Violence against Aboriginal women does not take a day off; it hasn’t for 520 years [of] colonization, assimilation and the outright desire for the land, water and air.

“The white people are right now almost succeeding in a silent genocide that’s taking our women, in any way shape or form. Nothing has changed in 520 years, the raping, pillaging, enslaving, buying and selling, and all-out killing our women under the watchful eye of this government.”


Read more: http://www.ammsa.com/publications/windspeaker/women%E2%80%99s-marches-demand-justice-disappeared

RCMP slammed with report on rapes, violence in B.C.

David P. Ball - Windspeaker

Canada’s national police force insists it is taking seriously allegations of widespread police misconduct and abuse against Native women, including several rapes, death threats and violence, brought forward by the U.S.-based Human Rights Watch (HRW).

In its Feb. 13 report entitled “Those Who Take Us Away,” the group documented dozens of allegations from more than 50 interviews in 10 northern B.C. communities.

“The stories shared in this report are heart-wrenching and absolutely appalling, particularly given this is only a small sample of the conditions and experiences of Indigenous women, girls and families across our territories,” said AFN National Chief Shawn Atleo in a statement. “I commend the courage of all those who’ve shared their stories, and continue to urge others aware of violence or misconduct to speak up.

“We cannot accept violence against or among our peoples. We owe it to the families who’ve lost loved ones, and to our children and future generations to achieve safe and secure communities for our kids to learn, grow and thrive.”

Meghan Rhoad, a researcher for the report, told Windspeaker she was “deeply troubled” by the allegations, not to mention the significant “level of fear” witnessed amongst complainants that police would retaliate if they stepped forward.

“In too many of the cases we heard described, there was impunity for the violence committed against them,” said Rhoad.
“I would like to see… the government and police look seriously at what they can do right now to set a new path, in terms of their relationship to Indigenous women and girls.”

RCMP Chief Supt. Janice Armstrong released a statement soon after the report’s release, promising the force would examine the accusations carefully but only if alleged victims’ identities were released or filed formal complaints.

“The RCMP takes the allegations enclosed in the Human Rights Watch Report very seriously,” she said. “The unimaginable loss and pain felt by families and loved ones of missing and murdered persons is also felt across our communities. The RCMP looks forward to working with our government and non-government partners, as well the communities we serve to provide Canadians with the professional and accountable police service they expect and deserve.”

Without named victims, Armstrong cautioned, little could be done. But with the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) continuing to push with other groups for a national public inquiry into more than 600 missing and murdered Aboriginal women across the country, the group dismissed RCMP demands for victims to go public–and police comments questioning NWAC’s missing women numbers themselves–as a form of intimidation.

“It appears now that the RCMP has chosen aggressive bullying tactics to re-direct public attention away from its own internal issues,” said Michele Audette, president of the NWAC in a statement. “This is another justification for NWAC’s call for a long-overdue national public inquiry that will, once and for all, look at the issue of missing and murdered Aboriginal women and girls, including the attitude of the police forces that should be there to protect them and not discredit the organizations that are trying to shed light on this matter.”

Read more: http://www.ammsa.com/publications/windspeaker/rcmp-slammed-report-rapes-violence-bc

NWAC shocked with recent RCMP comments on CBC

Media release from NWAC - February 18

In a response to a posting on the CBC News website stating that the, “The RCMP questions claim of 600 missing aboriginal women”, Michèle Audette, president of the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) states that, “it is incredible that the RCMP is publicly doubting the number of missing and murdered Aboriginal women and girls that has been documented in the Native Women’s Association of Canada’s Database! The high number of missing and murdered Aboriginal women and girls that has been documented was based on accurate secondary source information that in many instances came directly from police reports that had further been corroborated by NWAC researchers with various police agencies.
NWAC collected and developed the Database of Missing and Murdered Aboriginal women and girls between 2005 and 2010 through the Sisters In Spirit initiative, which was based on cases that were in the public domain. “Anyone can collect this information, it is there, but what is unique is that NWAC went beyond this general collection and spoke directly with many families of missing and murdered Aboriginal women and girls and was able to augment the data to better determine what the needs and gaps are in terms of service delivery, programming, and policy services. I invite you to educate yourself, your family, friends and community, and visit the NWAC website and see the research for yourself,” said NWAC President Audette. Research data collected through the Sisters In Spirit project are available on the NWAC website and can be found on this webpage: http://www.nwac.ca/programs/sis-research.

Read more: http://www.nwac.ca/media/release/17-02-13

RCMP questions claim of 600 missing Aboriginal women

Via CBC - February 16

The RCMP is questioning the oft-cited claim by an aboriginal group and some federal politicians that about 600 aboriginal women have gone missing or been murdered in Canada.

On today's edition of CBC Radio's The House, host Evan Solomon says that when he contacted the RCMP to confirm that there are 580 cases of aboriginal women who were either missing or killed in the country, the force said it wasn't aware of about 500 of them.

The question of exactly how many aboriginal women are missing or killed in Canada comes during a week that included the Annual Day of Justice for Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women on Friday, and a debate in the House of Commons that included a Liberal proposal to strike a special committee to investigate the issue. This week also saw a report from New York-based Human Rights Watch that accused the RCMP in British Columbia of abusive acts, including rape, against aboriginal women.

'The RCMP is concerned with the over 500 possible victims from the Sisters in Spirit database that have not been shared.'—Sgt. Julie Gagnon

The number 600 — used repeatedly in the House of Commons this week — comes from the Native Women's Association of Canada. In 2005, they began a program called Sisters in Spirit — a five-year research, education and policy initiative funded by Status of Women Canada – to collect data and examine the causes of the missing and killed Aboriginal women and girls. They say they documented 580 aboriginal women and girls across Canada as either disappeared or dead. That number counts cases until 2010, the year their funding was not renewed.

But spokeswoman Sgt. Julie Gagnon said in an email that the Sisters in Spirit have shared the names of 118 alleged victims with the RCMP's National Aboriginal Policing Services.

Sixty-four of the 118 names were confirmed to be in a police database, while 54 could not be confirmed.

Read more: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/story/2013/02/16/rcmp-aboriginal-women.html

Human Rights Watch alleges Aboriginal girls and women were abused by police

Via CBC - February 13

An international human rights organization is calling on the federal government to launch a national inquiry into claims from Aboriginal women of abuse and threats by RCMP officers in northern British Columbia.

Human Rights Watch, has brought worldwide attention to victims of torture and abuse in places like Syria and Burma, says the eyes of the world should also be on northern B.C.

Two researchers — one from Canada and one from the U.S. — spent more than a month last summer in the province’s north, visiting ten communities between Prince George to Prince Rupert and hearing accounts from Aboriginal women of alleged mistreatment at the hands of police.

The researchers interviewed 50 Aboriginal women and girls, plus family members and service providers.

They heard stories of police pepper-spraying and using Tasers on young Aboriginal girls, and of women being strip-searched by male officers, said the New York-based researcher, Meghan Rhoad.

“It was very moving to sit across from these women and girls and hear them tell their stories,” Rhoad told CBC News.

Woman claims life threatened

The report suggests some of the accounts of harm done to women and girls appear to be the result of poor policing tactics, over aggressive policing and insensitivity to victims.

Human Rights watch documented eight incidents of police physically assaulting or using "questionable" force against girls under 18.

The report also contains troubling and graphic allegations of physical and sexual abuse, including from a woman, identified as homeless, who describes how police took her outside of town and raped her.

Rhoad said the woman told her the officers then, "threatened that if I told anybody they would take me out to the mountains and kill me and make it look like an accident."

Highway of Tears

The First Nation communities the research team visited are linked by Highway 16, which has been dubbed the Highway of Tears because more than 18 girls and young women have disappeared there in recent decades.

Human Rights Watch said none of the complainants are named in the report because they feared retribution. The alleged perpetrators also are not named.

Despite the RCMP's repeated requests, the group did not release the allegations to the Mounties until this week, CBC News has learned.

The disturbing report does bear some important disclaimers.

"Human Rights Watch does not contend that this information proves a pattern of routine systemic abuse," it says. "But when such incidents take place in the context of an already deeply fractured relationship with the police, they have a particularly harmful, negative impact."

The report also notes that, "the testimonies that Human Rights Watch gathered do not establish the prevalence of abuse."

Read more: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/story/2013/02/12/bc-human-rights-watch-abuse-report.html

Read more: http://www.vancouversun.com/news/RCMP+failed+northern+women+report/7957387/story.html

Missing and Murdered Women crowdmap

Crowd mapping illustrates unsolved missing, murders of indigenous women and girls


Missing Women's Inquiry

‘Colossal failure’ by police left Pickton free to kill

By David P. Ball - Windspeaker

The release of Wally Oppal’s scathing final report from B.C.’s missing women inquiry was met with sobbing, drumming, and anger on Dec. 17 as families and friends began the next stage of grieving for their lost ones, and rights groups rallied around the call for a Canada-wide investigation.

The commissioner concluded more than a year of testimony, reports and controversy, ruling that “systemic bias” by RCMP and Vancouver police had repeatedly “forsaken” dozens of missing Native women.

In response, B.C. Attorney General Shirley Bond appointed former Lt. Gov. and former Stó:lo Nation chair Steven Point to “champion” Oppal’s recommendations.

But with more than 600 missing and murdered Native women documented countrywide, (some speculate that number might be as high as 2,000) rights groups are pressing on with demands for a national inquiry.

“This inquiry dealt only with the failure of police around Vancouver to investigate and prosecute William Pickton in a timely way,” said Michèle Audette, president of the Native Women’s Association of Canada. “The Oppal inquiry did not deal with all of the murders and disappearances of Aboriginal women and girls even in the province of British Columbia, and the murders and disappearances have continued.

“The Oppal inquiry did not focus specifically on Aboriginal women and girls, and the multiple factors which cause the epidemic of extreme violence against them. Because of this limitation, we need a national public inquiry that is focused on the murders and disappearances of Aboriginal women and girls in every part of Canada, which will deal with the systemic patterns and causes of the violence.”

Read more: http://www.ammsa.com/publications/windspeaker/‘colossal-failure’-police-left-pickton-free-kill

The need for a national Public Commission of Inquiry on Violence against Indigenous Women and Girls...


The need for a national Public Commission of Inquiry on Violence against Indigenous Women and Girls was one of eight issues raised with the Prime Minister when delegates from the Assembly of First Nations met with Stephen Harper on Jan. 11. In December, the AFN unanimously passed a resolution at the Special Chiefs Assembly calling for action if the government continues to refuse to move forward on the inquiry. The AFN is to coordinate political rallies on Parliament Hill and the offices of political representatives where First Nations leadership and families of victims would come together. The resolution also directed the AFN to “examine legal strategies, including a Canadian Human Rights Complaint against the federal, provincial governments and policing services.” The call for action is a welcomed move for Gladys Radek, co-founder of Walk4Justice. “I’m tired of hearing we’re having more meetings to talk about this. We need a national action plan,” said Radek. Her niece Tamara Chipman went missing along the Highway of Tears in 2005.

Read more: http://www.ammsa.com/publications/windspeaker/need-national-public-commission-inquiry-violence-against-indigenous-women-a

AFN justice forum explores idea of inquiry into missing and murdered women

Compiled by Debora Steel - Raven's Eye

An Assembly of First Nations justice forum in Vancouver that began Feb. 21 was used to explore the idea of a national inquiry into the issue of missing and murdered Aboriginal women, said Stewart Phillip, president of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs. Phillip has been critical of the province’s missing and murdered women’s inquiry, headed by former attorney general Wally Oppal. He said the focus of the BC inquiry is too narrow, and funding for marginalized groups to take part was denied, which will render the findings of the inquiry as inadequate. Assembly of First Nations National Chief Shawn Atleo, and other Aboriginal leaders, spoke to delegates of the forum beside a table lined with candles and photos of women that have gone missing or been murdered. Atleo said a national public inquiry has long been an objective of the AFN. The forum also was used to announce a campaign and Web site, www.missingkids.ca, that will help families in their search for missing children, with the goal also of preventing further disappearances. “Too many of our children and youth were reported missing at a very young age, and we cannot and we will not lose another generation,” Atleo said during remarks about the initiative. “It is our time to step up and together ensure that our children are supported in ways that they can be safe and confident to lead the way for this and future generations.” The Web site is offered by the Canadian Centre for Child Protection with the AFN.

Read more: http://www.ammsa.com/publications/ravens-eye/afn-justice-forum-explores-idea-inquiry-missing-and-murdered-women

Forsaken - The Report of the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry
Executive Summary

Written by the Honourable Wally T. Oppal, QC

Released: December 17

Download the full report in PDF format: http://t.co/jEcM2GnW

Too many Aboriginal women have died. It’s time for action

André Picard - Globe and Mail

How many more mutilated women’s bodies will it take? How many more haunting ghosts of the disappeared?

Some 600 cases of murdered and missing Aboriginal women have been catalogued, half of them in the past decade.

There is a crying need for action. Consider that, if non-native women were dying and disappearing at a proportionally similar rate, the number would exceed 20,000. Do you think that would be a priority?

The Native Women’s Association of Canada and the Assembly of First Nations have called for a national inquiry to probe this horrific litany of slaughter and propose a national action plan.

Last Thursday and Friday, the ministers of justice, Aboriginal affairs and status of women from all 13 provinces and territories gathered in Winnipeg to mull over the idea.

The federal government refused to participate – an act so contemptuous one can barely find the words to describe it. What do ministers of the Crown who have a constitutional responsibility to aboriginal people possibly have on their agenda that was more important?

At least the provinces and territories had the courage to try, but, disappointingly, their conclusion was that they need more discussion and they won’t make a decision until at least 2014.

Bob McLeod, premier and aboriginal affairs minister of the Northwest Territories, said governments are committed to taking action to reduce violence against Aboriginal women, but before agreeing to an inquiry, they want to ensure it has a “very clear mandate.”

While the caution is understandable, the delay is unacceptable.

Read more: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/too-many-aboriginal-women-have-died-its-time-for-action/article4961973/

National inquiry on murdered and missing long overdue, says MP


Assembly of First Nations National Chief Shawn Atleo has repeated his call for a federal investigation into the unsolved cases of murdered and missing Aboriginal women.

“A call for a national public inquiry, that request has yet to be heeded by the federal government,” Atleo told an Aboriginal crowd of mostly women, who attended the Sisters in Spirit rally at Edmonton City Hall on Oct. 6.

He also reiterated his call for the establishment of a National Integrated RCMP and Police Task Force on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.

The AFN passed a resolution in July calling for the task force, but received no support from the federal government to that end.

Atleo pointed out that the United Nations has set the issue of murdered and missing Aboriginal women as a priority.

Linda Duncan, New Democrat MP for Edmonton Strathcona, and former Aboriginal Affairs critic for her party, said she has lobbied Status of Women Minister Rona Ambrose to invite the United Nations to Canada to talk to Elders, chiefs and First Nations about the issue.

Duncan said her party took Atleo’s call for action “very seriously. The time to act is long past.”

Read more: http://www.ammsa.com/publications/windspeaker/national-inquiry-murdered-and-missing-long-overdue-says-mp

There's no need for an inquiry into missing and murdered women

June 29 Winnipeg Sun - Editorial

A national inquiry that looks into all of Canada’s missing and murdered (A)boriginal women would be a giant waste of time.

Despite what the chiefs would have you believe, most of these women aren’t being murdered because of the colour of their skin, nor does their race factor into why so many of these killings go unsolved. No, this is a problem of poverty and lifestyle, not race.

Police sources say Tanya Nepinak, Lorna Blacksmith, and Carolyn Sinclair were all involved in the sex trade. Drugs may have also been part of some of their lives.

That information doesn’t make their deaths any less tragic than most any other murder. Clearly, though, their lifestyle put them in danger of coming across a deranged scumbag. Those are the facts.

The chiefs and Niki Ashton aren’t interested in hearing about facts, however. They’re more interested in blaming the Harper government for all the women who have disappeared or been killed. Certainly, the Harper government has a role to play in this tragedy, as does every federal government before them.

But so do the chiefs.

Many of these women that have tragically disappeared came from reserves where corruption is rampant. They lived in poverty while woefully inadequate chiefs and band councillors made preposterously huge salaries. Home ownership was never an option for these women, as every piece of land on the reserve is controlled by the band. And there was little incentive to get an education, as far too many chiefs gave jobs based on loyalty, nepotism, and friendship, not skill.

Read more: http://www.winnipegsun.com/2012/06/29/theres-no-need-for-an-inquiry-into-missing-and-murdered-women

NWAC responds to racism in media

Media release from NWAC

The Native Women’s Association of Canada’s (NWAC) is troubled and offended with recent media releases and editorials, such as that put out  by the Winnipeg Sun on June 29th, 2012, that perpetuates ongoing racism against the Aboriginal Peoples of Canada, and in particular, against the most vulnerable group of Canadian society, Aboriginal women. Such blatant and offending articles should raise the concern and ire of many Canadians who are committed to improving relationships between themselves and Canada’s First Peoples.

“Ignorance is no excuse for the complete lack of awareness of Canadian history or of the rights of the Aboriginal peoples of Canada that are safeguarded and entrenched in Canada’s Constitution.” said NWAC President Jeannette Corbiere Lavell in response to this offending editorial piece. “Regardless of free speech, racism of this magnitude should not be tolerated nor allowed to be published in any media format.  It is obvious that more education and awareness on the issue of violence against Aboriginal women is very much needed.”

Sadly, Canadian history with respect to the treatment of Aboriginal peoples is not something in which most people can take pride of in this country. Attitudes of racial and cultural superiority have led to a suppression of Aboriginal culture and values. As a country, past and present actions have resulted in weakening the identity of Aboriginal peoples, suppressing their languages and cultures, and outlawing spiritual practices.

Read more: http://www.nwac.ca/media/release/04-07-12

The Unsolved Murders of Indigenous Women in Canada

July 5th - Sebastian Moll - Spiegel online

Highway 16 in Canada has become known as the "Highway of Tears" because dozens of women have disappeared along its route. Many of them have been killed, most of them First Nation indigenous peoples. The police have shown little interest in solving the crimes.

The view from our van could be straight out of a tourism brochure. There are snow-covered peaks, forests painted in fall colors, and next to the road flows a mountain stream where fishermen are catching salmon.

As we travel deeper into this idyllic landscape, the mood of our driver, Gladys Radek, becomes darker. She plays the Patsy Cline song "If I Could See the World (Through the Eyes of a Child)," over and over again. It is a ballad about longing for a childhood like the one Gladys never had.

Gladys was born 56 years ago on the reserve for the Gitxsan indigenous people in British Columbia, but she never gets homesick as she drives along Highway 16, the "Highway of Tears."

"There are too many ghosts," she says.

The ghosts are the women who have been disappearing without a trace along the 700-kilometer-long (435-mile-long) stretch of highway. Official police statistics list 18 women in all, 17 of whom are First Nation, as much of the indigenous population in Canada is called. Amnesty International assumes, however, that there are considerably more. Not a single case has been solved.

Locked up By Day, Abused at Night

That doesn't surprise Radek. It speaks to her own personal experience. The life of a native woman like her doesn't count for much here in northern Canada, some 200 kilometers from the border with Alaska. To her, it's clear what must have happened: The women were picked up on the stretch between the reserves, the gold mines and the logging camps, raped, killed and dumped along the side of the road.

We arrive in Prince Rupert, where the Highway of Tears reaches the Gulf of Alaska. Unemployed indigenous people hang around in dingy coffee shops. Almost all of the fish-processing plants that once employed many in the town have shut down. There was too much competition from Japan.

Radek is uncomfortable. She doesn't like this place. When she was a small child, her foster father spent the summer fishing in the harbor. Radek spent her days locked below deck on the boat, until he came for her in the evening.

It was here, at the entrance to town on Highway 16, that her niece Tamara disappeared five years ago. She was 18 years old. A ghost.

Read more: http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/highway-of-tears-the-unsolved-murders-of-indigenous-women-in-canada-a-842410.html

Faceless Dolls Project

UN will support Aboriginal women by studying the violence that surrounds them

Shari Narine - Windspeaker

The federal government has balked at the push to secure a commitment of a national inquiry into murdered and missing women, and the chance to learn more about the violence that surrounds Aboriginal women and girls in Canada. But the United Nations is tackling the issue head on.

“This year, our new topic is murdered and missing Aboriginal women. It is our upcoming assignment and we will be looking at it globally,” said Chief Wilton Littlechild, who was recently appointed president/rapporteur to the UN’s Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. He has served on EMRIP since 2011.

EMRIP, which meets in Geneva, provides the UN Human Rights Council with thematic advice in the form of studies and research on the rights of Indigenous peoples. Last year, EMRIP presented recommendations on four “very important agenda issues,” said Littlechild: The planning of the 2014 World Conference on Indigenous Peoples; the rights of Indigenous people to participate in decision-making; the role of languages and culture in the promotion and protection of the rights and identity of Indigenous peoples; and the undertaking of a questionnaire to seek the views of the UN members on best practices regarding possible appropriate measures and implementation strategies to attain the goals of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Expert witnesses will be called on to look into the barriers Aboriginal women face in the justice system, from investigations to the courts to incarceration.

“These issues I’m familiar with (nationally and) I can deal with from a global perspective,” Littlechild said.

He emphasizes that his focus will be on more than what is happening in Canada. Littlechild, who also serves as commissioner with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, will hear from expert witnesses ranging from Indigenous peoples to academics in his coverage area of North America, western Europe, New Zealand and Australia.

EMRIP will make recommendations to the UN Human Rights Council based on the information it gathers.

But the Canadian government isn’t looking for similar guidance from its Aboriginal groups.

An appeal by Assembly of First Nations National Chief Shawn Atleo to premiers and territorial leaders at the recent Council of the Federation meeting did not result in support for a national inquiry into violence against Aboriginal women and girls.

Read more: http://www.ammsa.com/publications/windspeaker/un-will-support-aboriginal-women-studying-violence-surrounds-them

Faceless Dolls Project

Dolls remember beauty of the life lived

By Shari Narine - Sweetgrass

Hope and hopelessness is what Cree Elder Lillian Shirt says came through as relatives of missing and murdered Aboriginal women and girls made dolls in memory of their loved ones.

“The hope that their loved ones are somewhere out there, that they will be found alive,” said Shirt. “The hopelessness is that hoping they didn’t suffer.”

Families of missing and murdered Aboriginal women and girls came together earlier this month getting strength and support from each other as they shared their stories and decorated dolls.

“It’s a memory. Like making their journey clothes as we do in our traditional burials, making their journey clothes, they’re all sewn by hand,” said Shirt. A meal followed the doll-making workshop and Shirt likened that to the journey feast “for the ones who have gone ahead.”

“Family members … find the project is very healing,” said Jennifer Lord, strategic policy liaison with the Native Women’s Association of Canada. NWAC is the only national organization with a team working to raise awareness and do research on the issue of missing and murdered Aboriginal women.

Edmonton was the sixth stop for the NWAC faceless doll project which was designed to put action to words. The workshop is based on artist Gloria Larocque’s Aboriginal Angel Doll Project. Larocque, who is from Sturgeon Lake First Nation but lives in Vancouver now, was in attendance in Edmonton.

NWAC’s Evidence to Action team determined that people wanted a more hands-on approach to bringing attention to the issue. Collaborating with Larocque, NWAC created the simple six-inch flat felt dolls to be completed in a one hour workshop. Participants decorate the dolls as they wish. Some dolls are finished elaborately using beads and feathers, some in jingle dresses, while others are done simply.

“We want to add value, reclaim that image of an Aboriginal woman being strong and beautiful,” Lord said.

This hands-on project is one way NWAC is addressing the issue of missing and murdered Aboriginal women. The organization is also studying why so many of the 582 documented cases from the 1980s and on have occurred in the western provinces. However, Lord noted, the issue impacts straight across Canada.

Read more: http://www.ammsa.com/publications/alberta-sweetgrass/dolls-remember-beauty-life-lived

AFN justice forum explores idea of inquiry into missing and murdered women


An Assembly of First Nations justice forum in Vancouver that began Feb. 21 was used to explore the idea of a national inquiry into the issue of missing and murdered Aboriginal women, said Stewart Phillip, president of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs. Phillip has been critical of the province’s missing and murdered women’s inquiry, headed by former attorney general Wally Oppal. He said the focus of the BC inquiry is too narrow, and funding for marginalized groups to take part was denied, which will render the findings of the inquiry as inadequate. Assembly of First Nations National Chief Shawn Atleo, and other Aboriginal leaders, spoke to delegates of the forum beside a table lined with candles and photos of women that have gone missing or been murdered. Atleo said a national public inquiry has long been an objective of the AFN. The forum also was used to announce a campaign and Web site, www.missingkids.ca, that will help families in their search for missing children, with the goal also of preventing further disappearances. “Too many of our children and youth were reported missing at a very young age, and we cannot and we will not lose another generation,” Atleo said during remarks about the initiative. “It is our time to step up and together ensure that our children are supported in ways that they can be safe and confident to lead the way for this and future generations.”

Read more: http://www.ammsa.com/publications/ravens-eye/afn-justice-forum-explores-idea-inquiry-missing-and-murdered-women


Drawing attention to the plight of missing, murdered Aboriginal women

Shari Narine - Sweetgrass

These dresses were among the 100 or so to be hung around the University of Alberta campus in Edmonton and along Saskatchewan Drive as part of the REDress Project. The project, created by Jaime Black, a Métis artist from Winnipeg, is meant to draw attention to the high number of missing and murdered Aboriginal women in the country.

Read more: http://www.ammsa.com/publications/alberta-sweetgrass/drawing-attention-plight-missing-murdered-aboriginal-women

Families look for answers about their murdered relatives

Shauna Lewis - Raven’s Eye

Nearly 300 people battled the rain to attend Day One of the Missing and Murdered Women’s Inquiry Oct 11, but instead of filing into Vancouver’s Federal Court building, a crowd gathered in the street in protest of what many say is a flawed inquiry process.

The inquiry is to examine the police investigation of the murders of serial killer Robert “Willie” Pickton.

“I feel like I have a target on me,” said Gloria Larocque, a 42-year-old mother and member of the Sturgeon Lake Cree Nation. “I’m an Aboriginal woman that is afraid for her and her daughter’s life,” she said.

Larocque was wearing a placard with a bulls-eye on it. She also built a life-sized coffin from cardboard and garbage bags, which she placed in the middle of the street as a symbol of the miscarriage of justice that she felt the inquiry had become.

She said the injustice that families of the murdered women have endured throughout the Pickton police investigation is nothing short of racism and sexism against all women.

“I’m here to support the ladies,” one Carrier First Nation man said quietly. Protester Marvin Dennis was one of the hundreds that formed a large circle on the street directly below the eighth floor court room where the inquiry had begun, stopping traffic for more than two hours at Vancouver’s busiest intersection.

While police, lawyers and friends and family of the murdered women filed into the inquiry, Aboriginal leaders, sex worker advocates, human rights activists and dozens from the First Nations community remained outdoors, drumming and singing and filling the streets with echoing chants for justice and Commissioner Wally Oppal’s resignation.

Protesters expressed anger about organizations being denied funding from the province to participate with legal representation in the hearing. Others voiced their disgust at a legal system they say is class biased and based on discrimination against societies most marginalized.

Read more: http://www.ammsa.com/publications/ravens-eye/families-look-answers-about-their-murdered-relatives