Saturday, April 2, 2011

An anonymous poster wrote to CrazyBitchesRus the following: “…no seems to have noticed that NWAC has laid off all the Sisters In Spirit staff. The NWAC SIS department is closed with only an acting director there to write the final report.” Apologies. We have noticed. You're right, we should have posted. Here's what's been happening and how folks can continue to support families of missing and murdered Indigenous women, who have been abandoned by government as well as native leaders.

Background: Since the 1980s more than 500 Indigenous women in Canada have gone missing or been murdered, half of these cases have never been solved. The issue was first raised by Amnesty International in 2004, and for a time the Native Women's Association of Canada (NWAC) championed the issue, under their Sister’s in Spirit campaign.

In the 2010 budget the federal government promised 10 million dollars would be set aside to address violence against Indigenous women. Precious little of that money is actually going where it can help. The lion’s share of the $10M went to the RCMP to set up a national police support centre for missing persons and unidentified remains by 2013. The centre will become the third branch of the Canadian Police Centre for Missing and Exploited Children, but it will NOT have a separate section dedicated for Aboriginal women.

$1.8 M over three years went to NWAC for “public education” – essentially to teach Indigenous women how to avoid violence (blaming the victims are we?). But it was a deal signed with the devil, because in order to get the cash NWAC had to agree never to dump the term “Sister’s in Spirit" and promise to stay away from vigils and advocacy. They also have to dump the database they had been keeping to collect the names and other information about missing and murdered Indigenous women. There is no other database like it. No one else in Canada collects this information, and as we can see from the RCMP they don't plan to. All evidence points to the fact that Indigenous women are at higher risk, no one is addressing the factors that put them at high risk of violence, and the families that NWAC once brought together for their past campaigns have been abandoned.

Despite government attempts to squash the Sisters in spirit movement, families of missing and murdered women have bound together and have continued to hold vigils. They have a fund-raising event coming up in Ottawa on Friday April 29. Details are below, including contact info and they also have a site on facebook. It shoudl be a good event. If your in Ottawa turn out to do what you can.


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