For the 31st Remembrance of Polytechnique and National Day of Action Against Violence Against Women, we remember the thousands of women, girls and those who identify as female or femme, who are subjected to violence in every form, every day. This includes victims, survivors, families, friends, advocates and allies of Indigenous Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and Two-Spirited (MMIWG2S).
Violence in any form is unacceptable and for far too long, Indigenous people have been subjected to it in their own country. And at times, the violence still gets ignored, goes unnoticed and even tolerated by the public and those in charge of protecting others. Indigenous people are inherently a peaceful people and do not condone violence of any kind and it is time for Canada to stand with Indigenous people against violence.
While working on my documentary about MMIW called ‘1200+’, we heard many stories on the different forms of violence subjected to Indigenous women, girls and two-spirit people. The accounts, especially during a sharing circle we hosted, included stories of strong and determined people who’ve been hurt physically, emotionally and even financially.
In almost all of the stories in 1200+, you will hear about the long-lasting impacts of colonialism and government practices, such as sending thousands of Indigenous children to Indian Residential Schools and Day Schools while others were taken away from their families during the 60s Scoop era. Most notably, the stories we heard and watched displayed the intergenerational trauma from all of the experiences our parents, grandparents and ancestors were treated to.
The stories of heartbreak, betrayal and immense pain may make you wonder how in a wealthy country like Canada you would tolerate such violence against the country’s original people. But there is hope. Once many people hear the stories, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous people, some do turn around and help. They become allies. Which is why we need to keep talking, educating and advocating for changes in this country. We ourselves are creating the ‘1200+ Teaching Tool’ in an effort to answer some of the calls to action from the MMIWG Inquiry Report (read them here).
Let’s all do our part in the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence and on Sunday, December 6th, let’s commemorate the 31st Remembrance of Polytechnique and the National Day of Action Against Violence Against Women by being allies, including for MMIWG2S.
Sheila North is the former Grand Chief of the Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO) and former Chief Communications Officer for the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs. She ran for the position of National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations in 2018 on a platform of reforms. Sheila is a former CTV journalist and documentarist. She was also nominated for a Gemini Award as a CBC journalist. As a Cree host, she has been voicing episodes of Taken, a series about MMIW, for APTN and CBC.