NWAC Honouring MMIWG Families
Families who have a missing or murdered Indigenous women, girl or Two-Spirit person can face obstacles that most other Canadians – even those who have lost a loved one- often do not. Everyone has a role to play in supporting and honouring Families affected by this issue. Anyone interested in justice, human rights and human dignity can engage in honouring Families through vigils, honouring activities and learning about the issue.
NWAC’s honouring projects include:
October 4th SIS Vigils
October 4th is a day where we honour the lives of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG). The violence experienced by Indigenous women and girls in Canada is a national tragedy. We must take the time to give thanks to the families who are our reason for demanding continued action. A vigil can take many forms, from a moment of silence, to a rally, to a community feast. All that is important is that you take some time on or around October 4th to mark the day. We firmly believe that the October 4th Sisters In Spirit Vigils are a movement for social change. The number of SIS Vigils has grown from 11 in our first year on 2006 to an impressive 216 vigils in 2013. Family members, Indigenous community members, and concerned citizens gather for a vigil every October 4th to honour the memory of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. Vigils take place in many communities across Canada as well as internationally. These gatherings serve to raise awareness and to provide support to families who have lost a loved one. REGISTER YOUR OCTOBER 4TH VIGIL NOW!
NWAC Faceless Dolls Project & Legacy Project
As part of NWAC’s commitment to the issue, we created a hands-on project to visually and physically create a representation of MMIWG. NWAC’s Faceless Doll Project created dolls that became a traveling art exhibit in memory of the more than 600 missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls in Canada. NWAC’s Faceless Doll Project was launched in March 2012 and Community Engagement Workshops were held across the country (funded by the Status of Women Canada). Community members were invited to come and hear the Faceless Doll story and create their very own doll for inclusion in this commemorative art project. Following this project many communities created their own dolls to honour the MMIWG. The NWAC Faceless Dolls Legacy Project allows communities to create dolls to honour MMIWG and raise awareness of this issue.
NWAC’s Community Resource Guide (A Resource for Honouring)
The guide supports advocates and campaigners, people assisting families and educators in honouring and engaging with the issue of MMIWG. The guide includes step by step resources for anyone who wants to help families and loved ones affected by this issue. The resource guide also includes factsheets on MMIWG, violence against Indigenous women and the root causes of violence against Indigenous women and the Impact of colonization.
Messages of Honouring and Support for MMIWG2S Families
This hands-on activity is for anyone who wishes to send messages of support and honouring to those affected by MMIWG2S. By creating a message and sharing it online or in your community, participants are raising awareness and letting Families and loved ones know that they have support. Once you’ve posted your picture on social media, consider making a display wall in your schools, work place or community, hold a moment of silence on October 4th (don’t forget to register) and bring your message of support to a larger vigil on October 4th.
Other Notable Honouring Projects:
• Sisters In Spirit Quilt, by Minaachimo-Kwe/Alice Olsen Williams
The Sisters In Spirit Quilt was created as a venue for Indigenous peoples to express their reaction and emotional response to the “unfair treatment and abuses suffered by our People” and, as a result, launched a Call for Quilt Squares. All the squares she collected were joined together to form a larger quilt, which NWAC staff travelled with to raise awareness about MMIWG. Minaachimo-Kwe/Alice Olsen Williams is an Anishinaabe woman from Curve Lake First Nation, Ontario. She is also one of earliest and loudest advocates of NWAC’s Sisters In Spirit initiative. By combining the traditional skills of beadwork and sewing of the Anishinaabe people, Alice integrates unique quilted textile works which blend expressions of Anishinaabe culture, healing practices with reflections on contemporary social issues and indigenous activism.
• Walking With Our Sisters Project by Christi Belcourt
Walking With Our Sisters (WWOS) is a massive community based commemorative project that is a memorial ceremony to honour murdered and missing Indigenous women and their families. It includes 1810 pairs moccasin vamps (tops) plus118 pairs of children’s vamps created and donated by hundreds of caring and concerned individuals to draw attention to this injustice. WWOS is on a seven year tour in Canada and part of the United States and will end in 2019. Christi Belcourt is one of Canada’s preeminent Michif (Metis) visual artists whose ancestry originates from the Manitou Sakhigan (Lac Ste. Anne) community in Alberta, Canada.
• Grandmother Moon by Dick Baker
The late Artist Dick Baker designed the Kwakiutl Moon for the Native Women’s Association of Canada and his design was the official logo for the Sisters In Spirit initiative (2005-2010). The Grandmother Moon is a teaching about Indigenous women’s special connection to our Grandmothers who have passed into the Spirit world. Grandmother Moon provides direction, strength, protection, knowledge and wisdom as women embrace their sacred place in our families, communities and beyond. She teaches us about our sacred role as life-givers and the importance of being the heart of our nations.