This Sunday, the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) joins thousands of Canadians as we mark October 4 as a day to honour and remember the lives of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.
Across the country, the labour movement joins families, Indigenous and women’s organizations at vigils and events to support the Sisters in Spirit movement.
The RCMP now estimates that over 1,100 indigenous women and girls have gone missing or been murdered – but many agree the number is likely much higher. This disproportionate violence experienced by Indigenous women in Canada has received the attention of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, which has called out the Canadian government for its failure to act.
The CLC supports the call for an inquiry
Barbara Byers, Secretary-Treasurer of the CLC, said that the crisis may not be on Stephen Harper’s radar, but it is on labour’s.
“The CLC and its affiliates believe a public inquiry is necessary in order to begin to repair the injustices and bring some closure to the families of the missing and murdered,” Byers said. “This election, we have a chance to honour these women and girls by voting for a party that is committed to calling a public inquiry.”
The CLC encourages members to support the families by attending vigils and events being held across the country.
“Whether it’s a vigil, a rally, a moment of silence or a community feast, let’s all take some time to mark the day,” Byers said.
• Attend a vigil near you
• Light a virtual candle
In 2005 Bridget Tolley, an Algonquin grandmother from the Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg in Quebec, began a movement called Sisters in Spirit (SIS) with the help of the Native Women’s Association of Canada, Indigenous communities, their allies, and other National Aboriginal Organizations (NAO).
Sisters in Spirit began as a family-led movement to end violence and stop the disappearances and murders of Indigenous women and girls. The Native Women’s Association of Canada, funded by Status of Women Canada (SWC), gathered statistical information on violence against Aboriginal women and the experiences of the families and communities left behind, and raised public awareness on the numbers of missing and murdered.
In 2011, the Conservative government defunded the Sisters in Spirit initiative, but the number of deaths and disappearances continued to grow. So have the voices supporting the call for an inquiry.
Many of the families, along with other allies, formed a new group, Families of Sisters in Spirit (FSIS), in order to continue community-led action and give support to the many families in need of healing and justice.
Today, more than 80 communities across the country hold annual vigils and events to honour and remember all Sisters in Spirit.