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A sign at the 10th Annual Strawberry Ceremony in Toronto. (Photo: @Connie_Walker/Twitter)

Thousands March Across Canada Demanding Justice for Indigenous Women

On National Day of Action for Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women, protests take place across Canada and in U.S.

Deirdre Fulton

Marches took place across Canada on Saturday, with participants demanding justice for the country's missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.

"Increasing deaths of many vulnerable women...still leaves family, friends, loved ones, and community members with an overwhelming sense of grief and loss," according to the Women's Memorial March Committee, organizer of the 25th annual event in Vancouver. "Indigenous women disproportionately continue to go missing or be murdered with minimal to no action to address these tragedies or the systemic nature of gendered violence, poverty, racism, or colonialism."

Last month, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, an autonomous arm of the Organization of American States, pinpointed colonization, long-standing inequality, and discrimination as root causes of disproportionate violence against Indigenous women.

Marlene George, Memorial March Committee organizer, added: "We are here to honor and remember the women, and we are here because we are failing to protect women from the degradation of poverty and systemic exploitation, abuse and violence. We are here in sorrow and in anger because the violence continues each and every day and the list of missing and murdered women gets longer every year."

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police said last May that 1,017 Aboriginal women had been murdered between 1980 and 2012. Another 108 are missing under suspicious circumstances, with some cases dating back to 1952.

Those who came together in Toronto, Winnipeg, Calgary, Grand Forks, and about a dozen other locations, called for a national inquiry and action plan to address the crisis. 

At the Strawberry Ceremony in Toronto, marchers called out Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who has previously dismissed the phenomenon as a matter of individual crimes.

Organizers of the event declared: "We stand in defense of our lives and to demonstrate against the complicity of the state in the ongoing genocide of Indigenous women and the impunity of state institutions... [Royal Canadian Mounted Police], coroners' offices, the courts, and an indifferent federal government that prevents justice for all Indigenous peoples."

In mid-January, the Globe and Mail reported that the premiers of the provinces and territories who have supported the call for an inquiry would meet with aboriginal organizations at a roundtable in Ottawa on Feb. 27 to discuss the issue.

At least three U.S. cities—Denver, Colorado; Fargo, North Dakota; and Minneapolis, Minnesota—also held solidarity events.

Keep up with the actions on Twitter with the hashtag #MMIW:


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