A vigil to honour missing and murdered women, girls and Two-Spirit people (MMIWG2S) is scheduled to take place in front of Vancouver City Hall on Monday (Oct. 4).
Organized by the Pacific Association of First Nations Women, the vigil is being held to honour the missing, support their families and bring awareness to the cause. According to the association, the vigil will be accompanied by a red dress display.
A variety of speakers, including Neskonlith Indian Band Kúkpi7 (Chief) Judy Wilson of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, and from the WAVAW Rape Crisis Centre, the Indian Residential School Survivors Society, the Aboriginal Mother Centre Society and the City of Vancouver.
Wilson, who is the secretary-treasurer at the UBCIC, said that while public attention has been focused on colonial violence against Indigenous Peoples in recent months, more must be done.
“On this Day of Action for MMIWG2S, I wish for Canadians to understand that the ongoing experience of genocide, and the loss of a loved one cannot be captured in a day or a media story alone. For too many families, these are life-altering realities that are felt deeply for generations,” said Wilson. “Advocates around the world are speaking out against the vast disparities in the way media and police frame and respond to missing person cases of white vs. BIPOC women, a painful reality that adds to the trauma Indigenous communities and families face in the wake of searching for their loved one and advocating for an end to the crisis of MMIWG2S.”
Wilson called for the federal and provincial governments to implement Article 22 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which states that “particular attention” be paid to the rights and needs of Indigenous elders, women, youth, children and people with disabilities and that measures must be taken to ensure those groups’ protection against violence and discrimination.
“No family should lose a daughter, sister, relative, or friend to gender-based violence, much less face barriers of racism and apathy in the aftermath,” she added.
The UBCIC also called for governments to fulfill Call for Justice 5.6 from the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, which requires an “enhanced, holistic, comprehensive approach for the provision of support to Indigenous victims of crime and families and friends of Indigenous murdered or missing persons.”
The inquiry, released in 2019, includes 231 total calls for action and calls the violence against women and girls a “genocide.”
The vigil is scheduled to take place from 4:30–6:30 p.m. at Vancouver City Hall. Attendees are asked to wear a mask and adhered to social distancing policies. For those wishing to support the effort online, the association is asking people to post a photo of themselves wearing red with the hashtags #MMIWG2S #MMIWG #NationalDayofAction and #NoMoreStolenSisters.