Women's Memorial Marches are taking place on Valentine's Day in cities and towns across the country, demanding justice for all the Indigenous women and girls who have been murdered or gone missing. The first march was held in 1992 in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside, to call for action after the murder of a Coast Salish woman was met with indifference by the authorities and media.
Through initiatives like the annual February 14 marches, Indigenous women continue to demand Justice for Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls. In this regard, Indigenous women have militantly affirmed that it is the voices of the people which must prevail when it comes to defining what constitutes justice.
This year's memorial marches are taking place at
a time when Indigenous peoples are militantly
defending their right to be against the violation
of their sovereignty and violent attacks on the
land defenders. The Liberal government and
instruments of the state including the police and
courts are imposing Canadian rule of law on
Indigenous territory where it has no authority, in
an attempt to negate the title and rights of the
Indigenous nations. The Trudeau government
continues to assert that the colonial framework
with its "rule of law" in the service of private
corporate interests must prevail. It has no
intention of recognizing the hereditary and
inherent rights of the Indigenous peoples which
belong to them as the first inhabitants of Turtle
This is also the first February 14 since the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls delivered its report. The Report concluded, based on the evidence it gathered, that missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls were the victims of a Canadian genocide, namely a concerted campaign to extinguish the Indigenous peoples, their history, culture and way of life. The Introduction to the Report said: "This genocide has been empowered by colonial structures evidenced notably by the Indian Act, the Sixties Scoop, residential schools and breaches of human and Indigenous rights, leading directly to the current increased rates of violence, death and suicide in Indigenous populations."
The response to the Report from the Trudeau government was to promise a "thorough review" and "national action plan." What this means is that the government will not give up the prerogative powers usurped by the Crown and establish nation-to-nation relations. Nor will it provide redress for all the crimes committed against the people and put in place the conditions required for the Indigenous peoples to exercise their right to be. The criminalization of the Wet'suwet'en for defending their sovereignty over their unceded territory shows where the Trudeau and Horgan governments stand.
Colonial relations, including the Indian Act, imposed a patriarchal system on Indigenous nations. Women were deprived of their place of honour and respect within the family and their important role in governance. Women became "fair game," a status which the courts, police and other state institutions continue to impose. Violence against Indigenous women and girls, both on and off reserve, is a consequence of these ongoing colonial relations and the decision-making process imposed on the Indigenous peoples to this day, which are the tools of genocide. At the heart of the matter is the fact that the Indigenous peoples are not seen as human beings with specific rights and needs, and with whom the Canadian state has definite nation-to-nation relations defined through treaties as well as international law. They are seen as impediments to the decisions made by private interests, and the real aim of the government is to extinguish rights, not uphold them.
TML Weekly pays its deepest respects to the families and loved ones of the murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls on the occasion of the February 14 marches. The persistence of Indigenous women and peoples to affirm their right to be is an inspiration to all, especially their insistence that they will define what they need and not allow others to tell them what is acceptable. We call on Canadians to provide them with their full support, including discussing this situation with their peers and participating in the marches.
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