Honouring MMIWG: Sisters in Spirit vigil, Oct. 4 | National Union of Public and General Employees

Honouring MMIWG: Sisters in Spirit vigil, Oct. 4

“The violence experienced by Indigenous women, girls, and gender diverse people in Canada is a national tragedy. United, we will demand action on an issue that impacts us all!” — Native Women's Association of Canada (NWAC)

Ottawa (3 Oct. 2019) — On Friday, communities will honour the lives of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, and gender diverse people at the Sisters in Spirit vigil.

The vigil, organized by the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC), takes place every year on October 4th. It is a time for remembrance and healing, as well as calling for change.

“The violence experienced by Indigenous women, girls, and gender diverse people in Canada is a national tragedy,” says NWAC. “United, we will demand action on an issue that impacts us all!”

Violence against Indigenous women, girls, and gender diverse people

The vigil marks an important opportunity to take time to remember those who are missing or murdered, as well as, to acknowledge the broader issue of violence against Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA individuals in this country.

Although gender-based violence is a problem across Canada, Indigenous women, girls, and gender diverse people face disproportionately high levels of violence and abuse. According to recent research, Indigenous women and girls are 12 times more likely to be murdered or missing than other women in Canada, and 16 times more likely than Caucasian women. Furthermore, members of the 2SLGBTQQIA community experience higher rates of violence and discrimination than their heterosexual and cisgender counterparts.  

National Inquiry calls for justice

The Sisters in Spirit vigil is particularly meaningful this year, given the release of the Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls in June 2019.

The National Inquiry’s findings concluded that the treatment of Indigenous people in Canada, and the pronounced effects on Indigenous women, girls, and gender diverse people, constitutes a genocide. This is something Indigenous communities have long articulated.

To address colonialism's ongoing legacy of violence against Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people, the National Inquiry's Final Report delivered over 200 Calls for Justice. The calls are directed to governments, institutions, social service providers, industries, and all Canadians. Building on many previous recommendations, the Calls for Justice are rooted in the protection of Indigenous rights and self-determination. 

A time for healing and a time for action

"The National Union urges all of our members to read the report Reclaiming Power and Place and to join in urging governments and the broader Canadian society to commit to implement the 231 Calls for Justice contained therein," read a statement from NUPGE's 2019 Convention. "We believe this report represents another step towards advancing the process of reconciliation as also outlined by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 2015."

As we remember and honour the missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, and gender diverse people, we bear in mind the need for action. 

Find more information on the Sisters in Spirit vigil here

Additional resources:

What Their Stories Tell Us: Research from the Sisters in Spirit Initiative

NWAC Resources on MMIWG & Violence Prevention

Reclaiming Power and Place: Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls


NUPGE

The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 390,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. — NUPGE