The HarperCons have gone much too far now! Apparently, the Sisters In Spirit Campaign, organized by the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) has been too successful in raising the awareness about murdered and missing Aboriginal women in Canada. Or something. They’ve done a lot, that’s for sure, including heightening awareness throughout the country, establishing a database of missing and murdered Aboriginal women, and co-ordinating vigils in more than 80 communities across the country. APTN reports that
Status of Women officials had asked the organization [NWAC] not to use any government money for projects under the name Sisters in Spirit or for work on their vaunted missing and murdered Aboriginal women database.
NDP MP and Critic on the Status of Women, Irene Mathyssen, says that
[D]espite the Conservative government’s praise of Sisters in Spirit (SIS), the recent $10 million announcement to address the issue of violence against Aboriginal women left SIS out. The main voice calling for action on how missing women cases are reported and investigated has been excluded. Many fear this means the end of Sisters in Spirit since the government made it very clear that SIS will not receive any more funding for this project.
Sisters in Spirit, a project under the umbrella of the Native Women’s Association of Canada since 2005, led the way in research regarding missing and murdered aboriginal women. Their April 2010 report, “What Their Stories Tell Us”, identified knowledge gaps that hindered the creation of effective policies and programming to address the high number of missing and murdered Aboriginal women and girls in Canada. Problems such as different jurisdictions not communicating as happened with the victims of Robert Pickton, delays in starting missing persons investigations if the woman was Aboriginal or in the sex trade, lack of resources for family members to deal with the aftermath of murder, and not enough investments in anti-violence programs and front-line community workers, were all identified by SIS.
Since SIS didn’t receive any of the $10 million, the research they did may be lost as they cannot get funding from any other government department. The minister needs to make it known how this data will be protected and maintained. Sisters in Spirit is the voice for the most vulnerable in Canadian society. Shutting them down after they demonstrated how we are failing Aboriginal women is another example of Conservative bully tactics, and the common conservative practice of trying to cover up embarrassing truths.
She has prepared a petition she will present to the House of Commons. All we have to do is to get the signatories. Here’s the text.
Petition to the House of Commons –“Sisters in Spirit”
We, the undersigned, residents of Canada, draw the attention of the Government of Canada to the
THAT for the past five years, the Native Women’s Association of Canada’s (NWAC) Sisters In Spirit initiative has worked to identify root causes, trends and circumstances of violence that have led to disappearance and death of Aboriginal women and girls;
THAT in March 2010, NWAC released the report “What Their Stories Tell Us” which provided evidence that 582 Aboriginal women and girls have gone missing or been murdered in Canada; and
THAT the fact that so many mothers, daughters, sisters, aunties and grandmothers have been lost to violence in this country makes this the most pervasive human rights crisis facing Canada today.
THEREFORE, your petitioners call upon the Government of Canada to renew funding for the Sisters In Spirit initiative Phase II “Evidence to Action” and to invest in an “Action Plan for Aboriginal women”, which NWAC has developed, to stop the devastating number of missing and murdered Aboriginal women and girls in Canada.
It’s a paper petition, so it’s a bit more work that we digital activists are used to. But, it’s a must. It’s a must for more than partisan reasons. It’s a must for the betterment of our country and, most importantly, it’s a must for demonstrating our support of and to Aboriginal women and girls in Canada. Download it now!
Take it to work, take it everywhere you go and get folks to sign it. Then send it to Irene, free of charge.