Annual march honours lacking, murdered Indigenous ladies in Canada | Indigenous Rights Information
On the 30th anniversary of the Vancouver march, proponents are calling for action to curb violence against indigenous women and girls.
Over 100 people marched through downtown Vancouver, Canada on Sunday afternoon for an annual event to honor and remember indigenous women and girls who were murdered and missing across the country.
On the 30th anniversary of the first such march in Vancouver, protesters drummed and chanted through the east side of downtown. The event was broadcast live on Facebook.
“The first women’s memorial march was held in 1992 in response to the murder of a woman on Powell Street in Vancouver,” organizers said in a statement prior to the event.
“Out of this sense of hopelessness and anger, an annual march on Valentine’s Day evolved to express compassion, fellowship and care for all women in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, Unceded Coast Salish Territories.”
Myrna Cranmer, one of the organizers, told local news agency The Tyee: “The impetus behind the march has always been so that family and community can grieve.”
For decades, indigenous peoples across Canada have been alerting to disproportionate levels of violence by women, girls and others in their communities and the inaction of local authorities.
A woman holds a sign during the closing ceremony of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls in Gatineau, Quebec, on June 3, 2019 [Chris Wattie/Reuters]The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) documented 582 cases of missing or murdered Indigenous women across Canada in 2010. Then, in 2014, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) reported that nearly 1,200 indigenous women were murdered or disappeared between 1980 and 2012.
But proponents and community members said the real number is likely far higher.
Amid growing demands for accountability and action to curb violence, the Canadian government launched a national investigation into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls in 2016.
In its final report in 2019, the study found that the violence “constitutes a racial genocide against indigenous peoples”, particularly against women, girls and members of the LGBTQ2S + community. Two-spirits is a term used by some indigenous peoples to express their gender and spiritual identity.
“This genocide has been compounded by colonial structures … which directly led to the current increased rates of violence, death and suicide among indigenous peoples,” the research said.
Government Action Plan
In a statement on Sunday for the memorial march in Vancouver, provincial government officials in British Columbia, including Prime Minister John Horgan, pledged to tackle systemic racism against indigenous peoples in the province.
“In Canada, indigenous women are three and a half times more likely than non-indigenous women to be victims of violence and three times more likely than non-indigenous women to be killed by someone they know,” they said.
Canada’s Minister of the Crowns and Indigenous People, Carolyn Bennett, also said the federal government is working “to take concrete action to end this national tragedy” and to develop a national plan of action to implement the investigation’s recommendations.
However, Indigenous advocates and community groups have criticized Ottawa for delays in preparing this action plan.
“I’m really disappointed with the trial because it’s missing,” NWAC President Lorraine Whitman told CBC News in June 2020. “But when I say that, I hope you keep going.”