She is Someone

Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Awareness Day or Red Dress Day is today May 5.

How do we get from the Red Dress to true redress? How do we make sure that all Indigenous women are treated as sovereign and sacred and can move safely through the world?

Shirt by Nicole Bell of Almost Famous Designs, a small Indigenous-based business focusing on awareness days, located in Edmonton. Modelled by Salish food sovereignty chef, Jared Qwustenuxun Williams.

Photo by Brittany Andrew.

Last year, Aboriginal Alert reflected on the current state of safety for Indigenous people – just on Aboriginal Alert alone, 931 missing alerts of Indigenous people were added in the 12 months of 2022.

“Many were located, but too many were found deceased, and disturbingly 141 individuals are still missing.

On average, there were about 77 new missing alerts added each month in 2022 across Canada. October 2022 saw the most missing alerts added with a shocking amount of 105 missing people. October through to December was the most active 3-month period for missing people with over 280 missing alerts added.

Indigenous Women and Girls were involved in two-thirds of the missing alerts in 2022.  That’s over 600 missing alerts in 12 months! 76 of those women and girls are still missing and 15 of them were reported deceased. 

There is so much that needs to be done across Canada to help protect the lives of Indigenous women and girls. Their lives depend on action by Canadians to make a stand for their well-being. This crisis is preventable.”

It’s a global human rights situation.

I used to volunteer for Amnesty International when I was a teenager, writing letters of advocacy to totalitarian regimes to release unfairly imprisoned artists or writers or human beings.

But, as Amnesty writes in their No More Stolen Sisters report, while “violence against women, and certainly violence against Indigenous women, is rarely understood as a human rights issue,” it actually is.

It’s also an environmental issue. The way we, as a society, treat women, is illustrative of our attitudes towards the Earth. Life-honouring cultures steward natural resources well and respect women and girls. Extractive, dominant, resource-using cultures (spoiler: that’s what our current system is… and it’s not going to end well), disrespect, control, and violate women.

If we can shift our own internal priorities, to centring care over power, we can be part of the radical change that needs to take place, on a system-wide level.

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