An organizer of today’s March for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women says work is progressing to find the root causes to the horrors, but there is much work that still needs to be done.
The event, now in its tenth year, is held to raise awareness for the estimated 1,200 indigenous women and girls who have gone missing or have been murdered over the last 30 years.
Margaret Neveau, who was on the organizing committee and acted as master of ceremonies for today’s event, said steps are being taken toward finding the systemic causes and making recommendations to ensure not a single woman or girl is taken again through a national inquiry announced last year.
“It’s coming a long way, because now the inquiry committee has been assembled. “There are five commissioners who, in the new year, will begin to hear testimonies from families of murdered and missing indigenous women,” said Neveau.
About 150 people assembled in front of the Sault Ste. Marie Courthouse today to show solidarity, sing, drum and to hold a moment of silence for the victims.
Similar events were held today across the country.
Neveau spoke also about sexual abuse, which she said is one root cause of many problems within the First Nations communities across Canada, including youth suicide.
“As delicate as it is to talk about, and as sensitive as it is, we really need to call it out and not be ashamed or keep those secrets any more. We need to really bring awareness to it,” she said.
Domestic violence, sexual abuse, poverty, homelessness, colonialism, racism, sexism and the legacy of the residential school system all need to be addressed and confronted, said Neveau.
More men have become involved in the march in recent years, said Neveau.
“We have heard the men’s cries too. It’s not just the women and girls that are murdered and missing. Our men are also feeling the impacts,” she said.
Neveau would like to see people take note of how the buffalo protect their most vulnerable.
“They keep the elders and children in the middle of that herd. They are the vulnerable ones. And then the adults surround that. That’s where I feel we need to come from — protecting our youth,” said Neveau.
“We want to be a good strong buffalo people,” she added.