(Ottawa, ON) – On Sunday, vigils in honour of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) will take place across the country. These annual vigils raise public awareness and consciousness on the ongoing issue of MMIWG and helps healing for families who have lost their loved ones to violence.
This year has been difficult for many, and not just because of the COVID-19 pandemic. “This year, Eishia Hudson and Chantel Moore were both shot and killed by police. Barbara Kentner’s killer had his charges reduced from second degree murder to manslaughter,” says Chief Constance Big Eagle, Chair of the AFN’s Women’s Council. “How many more women need to die until Canada recognizes that something needs to be done and this can’t be put on the backburner any longer?”
The vigils are being organized at a time when First Nations mourn the recent and tragic death of Joyce Echaquan, a 37-year-old Atikamekw mother of seven, who died at the hands of deplorable behaviour and blatant systemic racism in the Quebec heath care system.
“This past week, the death of Joyce Echaquan received national attention after being verbally assaulted by nurses because she was First Nations. The abhorrent words and contempt shown to a dying mom was tragic and hurtful for everyone who watched the video online,” says Regional Chief RoseAnne Archibald, who holds the Women’s Council portfolio. “I strongly support the Calls for Justice and call on both levels of government to develop a strong joint action plan with First Nations and BIPOC to end to systemic racism in Canada.”
Call for Justice 3.1 from the National Inquiry into MMIWG calls for all governments to “ensure that the rights to health and wellness of Indigenous Peoples, and specifically of Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people, are recognized and protected on an equitable basis.”
The Government of Canada has committed to the development of a National Action Plan to end violence against Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA. The recent and tragic incidences of violence and systematic racism targeting First Nations women are just one of the many examples of why the National Inquiry’s Calls for Justice need to be implemented immediately.
“On behalf of the AFN Women’s Council, our love and condolences go out to the families who have lost their loved ones this past year, and years prior. The violence, the racism and the killing of our women needs to stop,” says Chief Big Eagle.
Find the MMIWG Inquiry’s Calls for Justice here: https://www.mmiwg-ffada.ca/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/Calls_for_Justice.pdf
The AFN is the national organization representing First Nations citizens in Canada. Follow AFN on Twitter @AFN_Updates.
For more information please contact:
Interim Communications Director
Assembly of First Nations
Assembly of First Nations