By Yusur Al Bahrani
Hundreds gathered in Allan Gardens Park in Toronto to honour the lives of missing and murdered Native women in Canada. Although people across Canada gather every year for Stolen Sisters vigils, no effort has been made by the Canadian government to bring justice and peace to the families of these women.
The event began with a ceremony, and a prayer to remember the lives of missing and murdered women—victims of colonialism, racism and sexism. Speakers included aboriginal women and members of the community, trans activists and politicians.
The Native Women’s Association of Canada has documented more than 580 cases of missing and murdered indigenous women in the last three decades. Speakers and participants at the vigil insisted that sadness and anger are not enough to put an end to discrimination against aboriginal women in Canada. Emotions are to be translated into action that will put pressure on the government to deliver justice and end the violence.
One of the speakers, Liberal MP and Critic for Aboriginal Affairs & Northern Development, Carolyn Bennett, described violence against native women as a national tragedy and disaster that must end immediately. She also said, “We are going to make this a Canadian problem, not only aboriginal problem, not only a women problem.”
However, the tragedy continues and the crisis is deepened with more men and women sharing their horrific stories at the vigil every year. Just like previous years, members of aboriginal communities talked about their beloved women who either are missing or were killed.
According to Amnesty International, the Government of Canada has acknowledged the discrimination and violence faced by indigenous women and girls in Canada but to date has taken insufficient action to stop the violence committed against them.