The serial murders that occurred in Winnipeg, Manitoba are a national tragedy and another example of racism and hate. This is a call for action to address this hate that continues to put the safety of Indigenous women at risk – and to end the ongoing genocide that is its direct result.
The Ontario Native Women’s Association (ONWA) recognizes and honours families of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls and stands in unity with the families in Manitoba who are grieving the loss of their loved ones and those who continue to search for their missing women and girls.
ONWA maintains that Indigenous women, like all people, have the fundamental right to life and the right to be safe. Through supporting and working alongside Indigenous women for over 50 years, ONWA knows that many Indigenous women, girls and Two- Spirited people are not safe in their everyday lives. This lack of safety is demonstrated through the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls crisis, of which these murders are another tragic example.
Canada needs to change the story of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. The country needs to focus on addressing root causes and prevention against these tragedies by supporting Indigenous women, girls, and Two-Spirited people, empowering them, protecting their rights, and assisting them in taking up their leadership role within their communities.
“All the vigils and words of support are not going to bring our sisters back. Indigenous women know what they need in their lives to be safe. Canadians and governments at all levels need to support them. This national nightmare must end,” says Cora McGuire-Cyrette, Executive Director, ONWA.
Indigenous women have fought for decades to prove that Canada and its provinces and territories have a systemic issue of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. It took years for the National Inquiry to be approved and to gather information for the final report. Yet Indigenous women and girls are still going missing and being murdered even now, as we wait for progress on the National Action Plan. ONWA’s Reconciliation with Indigenous Women: Changing the Story of MMIWG (2020) report embodies critical recommendations that must be integrated into Canada’s National Action Plan and implemented without further delay.
All levels of government must act to support Indigenous women’s organizations in this work, to ensure our sustainability and reinforce our focus on Indigenous women’s safety. We can change the statistics for our most vulnerable group of women in our society and reduce the risk of their victimization by hateful predators.
As a national community, we need to come together and create visions of safety, visions of mutual respect. We must look at how we can work together, starting within our communities to ensure Indigenous women and girls are safe, no matter where they live in Canada.
This call for action demands that we address the hate and genocide that continues to put the safety of Indigenous women at risk. Governments must make resources available. Police forces must take action and work together with communities to identify other victims. We must bring closure to the families of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls who are still waiting to know where their sisters, mothers, and daughters are – who are still waiting for them to come home.
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