Indigenous Women’s Voices

I hear them too. All of them. The voices of hundreds of missing and murdered Indigenous women in Canada. They hang in the air of our collective conscience, refusing to be silenced or forgotten. Stories of women waging an endless war against our inertia and indifference, stubbornly reminding us we share a land where justice has not been served equally.  It has not been equal for Indigenous people but even less for Indigenous women who were murdered in the thousands between 1980 and 2012 at a rate 4.5 times higher than all of the other women in Canada.  I am not of Indigenous descent, but I am a woman, and I hear their call for justice.

151182_memes_vaw2It saddens me that almost 1,200 Indigenous women are reported as missing or murdered in Canada. It disturbs me that Indigenous women comprise more than one-third of Canada’s female prison population, despite being only three percent of Canada’s female population. It angers me that Indigenous women’s voices are still not being heard in the corridors of power in Ottawa.  And it infuriates me that calls for an inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women have been ignored.

We need a new approach to end this insidious and persistent violence.  We must also demand answers and justice for the families of missing and murdered Indigenous women. For me, these women are not just numbers in a chart or statistics in a report. They are someone’s mother, sister, daughter, aunt, niece or granddaughter. They are citizens of this country, our fellow human beings, neither silenced nor forgotten. And I hear their voices pressing us to action.

The federal election on October 19th is the time to call on federal political parties to launch a national inquiry into the missing and murdered Indigenous women. We need a national strategy to end violence against women. All women.

Now is the time for action. #womenvoteforaction

Dolores Montavez-Ruz is a member of YWCA Toronto’s Employment and Training management team. Between 2008 and 2010 her team visited 23 First Nations communities across Canada and trained over 200 Indigenous Life Skills Coaches.