Remembering Canada's Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women
Everyone is welcome at London's Sisters In Spirit Vigil, October 4, 2012
Fanshawe's First Nations Centre invites the Fanshawe College community to join them at the London Sisters In Spirit Vigil.
Sisters In Spirit Vigils take place across Canada every year on October 4th to commemorate Canada's missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. Over 620 Aboriginal mothers, daughters, sisters, aunts and grandmothers have gone missing or died violently.
The London Vigil will begin at 1:00 p.m. starting at Atlohsa Native Family Healing Services (353 Richmond Street) followed by a walk to My Sister's Place (566 Dundas St.) at 2:00 p.m. for a feast. Everyone is welcome to attend.
Those who aren't able to attend in person can honour the missing and murdered women and girls via the Virtual Candlelight Vigil on the October 4th website.
We asked Kevin Lamure (right), manager of Fanshawe's First Nations Centre, about the Sisters In Spirit Vigil and the issue of violence against Indigenous women:
Kevin, can you please give us some background on the Sisters In Spirit Vigil - what's it all about?
KL: The Sisters in Spirit Vigil is an annual Canadian event that commemorates the lives lost of hundreds of Aboriginal women and girls who have been murdered or are missing.
Why are Indigenous women in Canada so vulnerable to violence? Is the situation similar in the US and other countries?
KL: Many Indigenous women are living in poverty, single-parent households, and experience a basic lack of housing which makes them more susceptible to predators.
Unfortunately women in general are vulnerable to violence worldwide. Many of these atrocities are becoming so prevalent in the society that we live in that people are increasingly being desensitized to this harsh reality.
How can we support Indigenous women so that they aren't so vulnerable?
KL: We can support Indigenous women by starting with the empathetic outreach for their basic human needs combined with a holistic balance of Traditional and Western educational methods.
Is this just a problem "someplace else," e.g. in Western Canada or in big cities?
KL: The missing and murdered women are occurring in greater numbers out west although this is also happening right here in London and surrounding areas.
As an Aboriginal man and the father of two young daughters I have a responsibility to ensure that these types of issues are not a part of their future.
Is the situation getting any better?
KL: The situation is not getting better, only the information is getting better. More people are becoming aware of the issues and RCMP and police forces are becoming culturally sensitive to the way they treat cases of missing women.
What can we do to stop the violence and bring the perpetrators to justice?
KL: Begin earlier with public education - starting in primary school to university and educate ourselves and each other. Protest the government to enforce more strict law and consequences for crimes of this nature. Stand united in solidarity against violence.
Are there any programs to support the children of the missing and murdered women?
KL: Thankfully there are many programs that offer services of this nature although preventative measures would prove to be more beneficial.
Where can readers go to find more information and keep informed of important issues relating to Indigenous people in Canada?
KL: There are many websites to find information relating to this topic; here are a few:
London Sisters In Spirit Vigil
When: October 4, 2012, 1:00 p.m.
Where: Atlohsa Native Family Healing Services (353 Richmond Street, London)
More info: 2:00 p.m: walk to My Sister's Place (566 Dundas St., London) at 2:00 p.m. for a feast
Everyone is welcome to attend.
Atlohsa’s Annual 5k Walk/Run to End Violence against Women
When: October 26, 2012 - Registration: 9am; Race starts at 10am
Where: 219 St George Street, London
More info: Prizes, refreshments, and a toonie auction! Event aims to raise awareness and funds that will go towards Zhaawanong Shelter, violence prevention programs, and healing services.
For more information please contact Ranya@Atlohsa.com or (519) 282-7896