October 4th is a day when we honour the lives of missing and murdered Aboriginal women and girls and support families who have been tragically touched by the loss of a loved one to violence. Vigils take many forms: a rally, a candle-light vigil, a workshop, a moment of silence, a walk, or a gathering of people to share memories and a meal.
It is our hope that the Sisters In Spirit Vigil movement will live on for generations, with October 4th being a national day of remembrance for Aboriginal women and girls not only in Canada but across the globe.
In 2012, we are more committed than ever to honouring our missing and murdered Aboriginal mothers, daughters, sisters, grandmothers and aunties on October 4th. We see this commitment with the historic and unprecedented 100 vigils mark. More than 100 cities and communities are celebrating October 4th today! No other event in Canada brings so many Aboriginal communities and Canadian citizens together to specifically celebrate, honour and support Aboriginal women and girls.
Violence has impacted our communities and people in many ways; we ALL suffer directly and indirectly – sadly, no one is immune.
As women, as the givers of life, we have a great responsibility to ensure the well-being and safety of our mothers, daughters, sisters, aunties and grandmothers. Our men also have an important role to play as our supports and in ending the cycles of violence. Our leaders are strong and they are supporting this issue. We need to work together. As a society, Canadians are also coming out to stand alongside us in solidarity. This is why we do this work. This is why we are here today. This is why we are committed to moving this issue forward. There is great strength in unity!
We are calling on all levels of government to work with Aboriginal women and representative organizations, including the Native Women's Association of Canada who is a leader in this field of research and advocacy.
NWAC has issued a petition, calling for a national inquiry. We invite anyone and everyone to sign this petition and return completed documents to NWAC as soon as possible. These petitions will be presented to the Federal Government.
The petition reads:
Dear Prime Minister Harper:
The Native Women’s Association of Canada has documented over 582 occurrences of missing or murdered Aboriginal women and girls. We know that there are more cases that have not been documented. We also know that this epidemic of violence is continuing to claim more lives and irreparably harm more families every month.
Addressing this issue requires that the factors causing it are correctly identified, and that those individuals, processes and policies responsible for maintaining the status quo – and the subsequent harms to Aboriginal women and girls – are remedied. Recommendations and ACTION for change are needed to increase the safety of Aboriginal women and girls in all walks of life across Canada.
In closing, we express our sincere thanks and gratitude to the families. Many are here today and we thank them for sharing their stories. You are the reason we continue to demand action. We are honoured to walk beside you on this journey!
Moreover, we acknowledge that families and communities must take the lead in this movement. Their stories need to be heard, and their initiatives supported. Relationships must be nurtured and further strengthened with other families, as well as with grassroots women and men, organizations, and Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal communities across Turtle Island.