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Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls

As you walk through campus this week, you will see red dresses. These dresses are hung to commemorate the lost lives of Indigenous Women and Girls in Canada that have been murdered and/or missing. The amount of active cases continues to grow and so do catching the people who have committed these crimes. The art installation is intended to spark conversation and encourage you to think about some of the untold history in Canada. 

As many of you know, Canada has a dark past with Indigenous peoples. Specifically, I would like to talk about Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMWIG) - a movement to raise awareness about the epidemic of Indigenous women who have gone missing and/or have been killed. This movement also includes the use of the red hand over a mouth which symbolizes the voices of these women who have been silenced. 

There was a flood of Indigenous groups and other activities that were calling on the Government for justice and action. The Government of Canada, under Justin Trudeau created a National Inquiry to Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls in September 2016. This inquiry mentions statistics of Indigenous women over the course of 30 years. The statistics state that Indigenous women are 7 times more likely to be murdered than other females and are far more likely to go missing. It also includes calls to action for the Government to consider to minimize the rates of MMIWG statistics.

Another important issue in the MMIWG movement is ‘The Highway of Tears’. It is a term used for a 700km stretch of highway from Prince George to Prince Rupert in British Columbia. Since the late 1960s, it was a repeated area for the disappearances of Indigenous women and girls. It is common for people in the area to hitchhike due to lack of transportation (cars, busses, trains). In an effort to reconcile with the community, RCMP in British Columbia created a task force dedicated to investigating these disappearances for justice for the community. This force works with over 50 cases to provide justice for the families of these lost women.

Members of the Indigenous community also work year-round to organize awareness walks around Calgary. On May 5th, Canada commemorates MMIWG where people are encouraged to wear red and attend the events planned in their local area. If this intrigues you, they are usually in March: keep your eyes peeled. This has really pushed for education of people who may not be familiar with the MMIWG movement and caused many initiatives with the Police and Governent to respond to the injustices of the community.

Ashley Callingbull (the first Indigenous Miss Universe in 2015) used her stature in society to educate and bring awareness of the MMIWG movement. You can find her on social media platforms speaking about this topic.

I know this is a heavy topic. Thank you so much for taking the time to read a bit about the MMIWG movement. Feel free to reach out to a member of the Peer Health Outreach team, a Counsellor, a member from Student Life or a trusted friend if you’d like to debrief this information with.

Thursday, June 24, 2021