Indigenous organizations and an elementary class in Thompson were among the Manitobans who took time May 5 to recognize the National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG).
In Thompson, a Grade 2 class at Westwood School wrapped up a week-long project focusing on the issue of MMIWG, which saw them create artwork and a video and invite guests including jingle dress dancer Felicia Lobster and a puppeteer to their classroom. Lobster’s older sister was murdered in 2011 and she wears her picture around her neck while she dances to remember her in spirit.
“Today, on May 5, I send my heartfelt condolences to all those who have been impacted by the national crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, Two Spirt and gender-diverse people” said Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO) Grand Chief Garrison Settee in a news release Wednesday.
MKO, which represents 26 Northern Manitoba First Nations, noted that it has nearly been two years since the release of the final report of Canada’s National Inquiry into MMIWG and that work must be done to implement the 231 Calls for Justice that report contained.
“Each person has a role to play in order to end all forms of gender-based violence against Indigenous women, girls, Two Spirit and gender-diverse people,” said MKO MMIWG liaison unit manager Hilda Anderson-Pyrz, whose sister died in 2011 in what was ruled to be a death from exposure, though her family testified at National Inquiry into MMIWG community hearings in Thompson that they didn’t believe it was adequately investigated.
The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (AMC) also said it wants to see more action from the federal government on the inquiry’s report.
“On May 5 and every day the AMC stands with MMIWG survivors and family members in their calls for remembrance and awareness of their loved ones,” said AMC Grand Chief Arlen Dumas. “The AMC also stands with survivors and family members in their calls for the immediate development of the National Action Plan for implementation of the 231 Calls to Justice of the National Inquiry into MMIWG. Lives are at stake and the longer the federal government stalls the delivery of the National Action Plan the more our women, girls and LGBTQS2 will be in danger and subject to colonial violence in Manitoba and elsewhere in this country. It's especially egregious on the national day of awareness and while First Nations women and girls in Manitoba continue suffer the effects of colonial violence and cultural genocide, that a plan promised a year ago is still not delivered. Today would have been a great day to release the National Action Plan. It would have been symbolic and a strong sign of this government’s commitment to reconciliation; however, like so many of this government promises to First Nations, it is simply more rhetoric, more excuses and just another lost opportunity to give expression to the Calls for Justice.”