News Release – Manitoba
October 4, 2017
MANITOBA MARKS MISSING AND MURDERED INDIGENOUS WOMEN AND GIRLS AWARENESS DAY WITH GATHERING FOR FAMILIES
The families of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls will gather with Indigenous organizations at the Legislative Building today in recognition of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Honouring and Awareness Day, Indigenous and Northern Relations Minister Eileen Clarke announced today.
“We’re thankful and humbled to participate in this gathering, which was organized by the families of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls and the Indigenous organizations that are working on their behalf,” said Clarke. “We respect and support the wisdom, experiences and recommendations of these families and Indigenous community leaders who have already contributed so much to our province’s unique volume of experience on this issue.”
According to police reports, more than 1,200 Indigenous women and girls in Canada have gone missing or been murdered since 1980. For decades, their families have called for greater recognition of the crisis of violence facing Indigenous women and girls, which led to the creation of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.
Manitoba has affirmed its participation in the national Inquiry by passing an Order in Council that provides the federally appointed commissioners the authority to examine the considerable work and analysis already completed in Manitoba. This material includes Manitoba inquest reports, reviews of the child welfare system, a 2016 report on the vulnerability of marginalized Indigenous girls, The Legacy of Phoenix Sinclair—Achieving the Best for All Our Children, and the Aboriginal Justice Inquiry.
The minister noted the province is committed to working collaboratively with the new Manitoba Co-ordinating Committee that has been established to ensure the inquiry is family and survivor-centred.
“Earlier this month, we wrote to the commissioners of the inquiry to seek their support for culturally appropriate processes that include and support families, survivors and First Nation communities,” said Clarke. “We also asked for improvements to the way the inquiry communicates with those wishing to share their stories, and for them to work together with our Indigenous leaders and communities to have Manitoba representation in its leadership.”
The Manitoba Co-ordinating Committee includes leadership from the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Inc. (MKO), the Southern Chiefs Organization Inc. and the Assembly of First Nations.
“As we gather together on Oct. 4, 2017, to remember MMIWG, we need to recognize this is not an Indigenous issue, this is a Canadian issue,” said Grand Chief Sheila North Wilson, MKO. “As Indigenous women and girls, we have the right to live, the right to feel safe and together we can end this national tragedy.”
Today’s gathering, called Mamaway Kiskisitan Niwakomakinak (We Gather to Remember our Relatives) includes formal remarks starting at 5 p.m. with a feast and a candlelight vigil to follow on the stairs of the Legislative Building. Various singers, drummers and dancers will perform. All are welcome.
The minister encouraged Manitobans to show support for families of missing and murdered women and girls by taking a moment to honour them on this day of awareness.
“This is an issue that affects all of us as Manitobans and we must continue to raise awareness of this injustice,” said Clarke.
– 30 –