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Honour our Stolen Sisters at a vigil on October 4

    Thursday, August 30, 2018 - 09:05

    October 2018 marks 14 years since Amnesty International released our “Stolen Sisters” report. In 2004, our report was ground breaking and helped to shine a light on a little known Canadian human rights crisis, and it promoted solutions identified by the Native Women’s Association of Canada and other partners in the Indigenous community.

    Much has changed in the past decade. October 4 has become a national day to commemorate the lives of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, and two-spirit people; 212 vigils were held across Canada in 2017. Cross-country walks have been held to raise awareness. Tens of thousands of petition signatures have been handed over to the federal government. Two federal Parliamentary Committees have studied the scope of the violence. The issue has been repeatedly raised at the United Nations. Three international missions came to Canada in 2013 to investigate the issue, and another came in 2018. In 2014 the RCMP, for the first time ever, reported figures on the scope of the violence. And in 2016, the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls was launched.

    There is action, but it is too little, and too piecemeal. What's needed is a comprehensive national response in keeping with the scale and seriousness of the violence, including a coordinated national action plan to prevent and address gender-based violence.

    October 4 is a time to reflect on what we have achieved in the past 14 years, and to advocate alongside our First Nations, Inuit, and Métis partners to honour our Stolen Sisters, and to take action to end this human rights crisis.

    Participate in a vigil on October 4

    • Find out if a vigil is taking place in your community.
    • Contact the Native Women's Association of Canada (NWAC), your local band office, friendship centre, or Indigenous community or service organization to see if a local vigil is planned.
    • Amnesty participates in vigils to demonstrate our solidarity, and to honour the memory of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, and two-spirit people. To make sure the event is centred on the voices of rights holders, we do not have large Amnesty backdrops behind speakers, we do not bring Amnesty actions, and we do not have a very branded Amnesty presence. It is okay to hold a small banner in the audience, or wear an Amnesty t-shirt, so that participants know that Amnesty is there as an ally expressing our solidarity.
    • Amnesty generally does not speak at vigils unless it is very briefly, after rights holders have spoken, to express our solidarity.
    • Vigils are a solomn occasion to remember our Sisters in Spirit. In keeping with this tone, Amnesty refrains from bringing actions like petitions, unless they are joint actions created with Indigenous partners organizations (as has happened a few times in the past).

    Organize a vigil

    • If nothing is planned for your community, with with local Indigenous partners to organize a vigil and register it with NWAC.
    • A resource kit is available to help you organize your vigil.

    Demonstrate your solidarity

    • Download this heart graphic. Inside the heart, write what you commit to do in the next year to honour the lives of Indigenous women, girls, and two-spirit people. Take a photo of you holding your heart message, and upload the image to social media with a message like this (hint: use the hashtag #SISVigils): I commit to sharing respectful commentary on the National Inquiry on my social media feeds #SISVigils #MMIWG #cndpoli
    • Check out Amnesty's social media feeds on October 4th. We always have a post about honouring the lives of Indigenous women, girls, and two-spirit who have gone missing or been murdered. Share these posts on your social media feeds.

    Write a letter

    • Write a letter to the government of Canada calling for them to close the gap in funding for services for Indigenous women, girls, and two-spirit people escaping violence.

    For more information contact stolensisters@amnesty.ca or visit our Stolen Sisters campaign webpage.

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