Acknowledging and Honouring Our Sisters in Spirit.
By Tanya Coulter
We cannot mark the 16 Days of Activism to End Gender-Based Violence as Canadians, without addressing the disproportionate rates of violence against indigenous women. For the purposes of this article, I wish to share some disconcerting facts and hard realities to consider with regard to violence against Indigenous Women, Girls and 2SLGBTQQIA – which stands for Two Spirit Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning, Intersex, Asexual Individuals.
In June of this year, the National Inquiry on MMIWG was completed. In its final report it issued a number of “Calls for Justice”, very much like the Truth and Reconciliation Commission did a few years earlier. These efforts are to be celebrated and acknowledged as some of the first steps towards change, education, and hopefully healing.
What is concerning though, is it that during the time of the research, reporting, and writing of this national inquiry, “the rate of violence against Indigenous women and girls continued unabated” (J. Barrera CBC News June 5, 2019.) It is hard to imagine that such rates of violence and harm can continue.
It is our responsibility as members of this country to become fully educated with regard to the violence being inflicted upon Indigenous Women, Girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA. It is why we gather annually in early October to acknowledge and honour those who have been lost, rightly named the “Sisters In Spirit Vigil”. Here is the prayer that is shared at the Vigil:
You know all women from birth to death
We seek your knowledge
We seek your strength
Some are STARS up there with you
Some are STARS on Mother Earth
Grandmother, lighten out path in the dark
Creator, keep our sisters safe from harm.”
To learn more about the national inquiry’s final report please visit www.mmiwg-ffada.ca or on facebook sacredmmiwg.ca.