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Events to Honour Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and 2 Spirit People

(SAULT STE. MARIE, ON- February 10, 2023): The Indigenous Women’s Anti-Violence Task Force (IWAVTF) and Sault Ste. Marie community partners invite all community members to gather at the courthouse for the 16th annual Memorial March for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and Two-Spirit persons (MMIWG2S+) on Tuesday, February 14th, 2023 at 12 PM.  

People are invited to come together to listen to local Indigenous leaders speak about their commitments and how they are making a difference in their community. Mayor Shoemaker will also read a Proclamation which details the City of Sault Ste. Marie’s commitments to the Calls for Justice.

Community members will share their vision of how we can demonstrate individual and institutional commitments to continuing critical work in violence prevention and intervention. Sault Ste. Marie City Council, working in good faith as allies, has proclaimed February 14th as a Memorial Day to remember MMIWG2S+ persons since 2018. A round dance will also take place at the Delta from 6-9 PM. 

The IWAVTF looks forward to the commitment made this year, where the Proclamation 2023 declares “that from February 14th, 2023 onwards, the Memorial Day to remember and honour Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls, 2 Spirit and Gender Diverse Persons will continue until the right to culture, health, security and justice are realized and demonstrated through improved social indicators for Indigenous communities for “as long as the sun shines, the grass grows and the rivers flow”, shared Vivian Jimenez Estrada, PhD (she/her/elle), Associate Professor, Department of Sociology, Academic Lead: Equity, Diversity and Inclusion at Algoma University, also a founding member of the IWAVTF. This is an opportunity to remember that we are all Treaty People and the city’s collective commitment to stop colonialism from inflicting further wounds is important.” 

This can be done by supporting Indigenous peoples’ efforts to restore their jurisdictions and teachings that place women and gender-diverse individuals at the centre. We also call on all to do what they can in their places of influence to improve the social and health outcomes of Indigenous peoples to stop what has now been recognized by the final MMIWG2S+ Report as genocide. Together, as a community, we can prevent more violence by doing things differently. 

To send your own message and to register for the event, please visit the IWAVTF’s facebook page.

Significance/Background Information: 

The Memorial March originated 32 years ago, on February 14, in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. The march calls attention to the disproportionately high numbers of missing and murdered Indigenous women in that neighbourhood. Today, this march has come to represent a time for remembering, grieving, honouring, and demanding answers for Indigenous communities and survivors across Canada. This march is a time to stand in solidarity with the families whose loved ones have gone missing and been murdered across Canada and beyond. 

Baawaating is located along the Trans Canada Highway and is part of the human trafficking route where people are moved along. This issue is underreported and there are currently no statistics that highlight the issue in the region. The IWAVTF is also launching an environmental scan that will highlight the barriers service providers in aligning their programs and services to the MMIWG2S+ Calls for Justice.

Statistics regarding the root causes of MMIWG2S+ (especially locally) are scarce and under-recognized in the Government of Canada’s official reports. Lack of state action in developing culturally appropriate data infrastructure and protecting Indigenous data sovereignty impedes accurate data tracking, among other factors.

  • According to a University of Guelph study, femicide increased by 26% from 2019 to 2021; 19% of women killed violently in 2021 were indigenous women.
  • The Native Women’s Association of Canada (2021) states that six in 10 Indigenous women in Canada will undergo physical or sexual assault at some point in their lives.
  • A 2022 Statistics Canada report shows that Ontario alone accounted for 62% of all reported trafficking incidents in Canada, with just 39% of the total population.
  • The same report indicates that young females between the age of 18 and 24 make up 46% of all trafficking victims, implying that they may be used for sexual exploitation. The report does not have any indicators regarding Indigenous populations.

Media Contact:
Cathy Syrette
705-256-5634 ext. 2125
Or Cell: 705-989-9737

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