Today is the 7th annual “Sisters in Spirit” Vigil taking place in Ottawa. This event hosted by the Native Women’s Association of Canada is important for several reasons:
It brings together the families and friends of missing and murdered women to speak out and share their stories, and it focuses attention on the federal government and their lack of action on the tragedy of how so many Aboriginal women have fallen to violence.
I will be attending the Vigil tonight in Ottawa, and remembering the women of the Downtown Eastside, and women across Canada, that we have lost. I’ve always believed our whole societal system has failed these women. Whether its the indifference and neglect of successive governments; lack of action from law enforcement agencies, to the judicial system overall; or the deteriorating social and economic conditions that many women face on a daily basis, it all adds up to a national disgrace that must be addressed.
In Parliament today, my colleague Niki Ashton MP, and our Women’s critic, raised these issues with the government. Their response was not comforting, to say the least.
I have long advocated for action to address these deeply systemic issues of poverty, violence, discrimination and absence of justice for missing and murdered women. Sex workers, particularly have been faced with harsh realities that are ignored by government. Their safety and rights are important too.
There are many strong organizations who work on these issues every day – including the NWAC – so today, we stand in support of their work, and the work of courageous family members who have refused to give up.