Over the last several years, Canada and the United States have faced a painful epidemic that has affected thousands of families across North America. What began as potentially a coincidence soon turned into an excruciating trend: our Indigenous women have been targeted and gone missing or been murdered. 

Not only is the sheer nature of these crimes harrowing, but the Indigenous population has not had the same support and focus from the Canadian Justice System. This has resulted in many of these cases being left unsolved and the families of the women. 

The turmoil that families face with their unanswered questions adds to a lack of closure and inability to move forward. It’s every mother, father, sister, and brother’s nightmare to have lost a loved one – especially under these painful circumstances.

The Harsh Reality 

When looking at the data for Indigenous women in 2018, it’s clear that the Indigenous population has been thrown into struggles that far outweigh the rest of the country. In fact, Indigenous women are twice as likely to experience violence than white women. Their murder rates are ten times more than the national average. 

The violence and injustice that Indigenous women face should be a vital concern for all of North America. As we move towards truth and reconciliation, it’s imperative that we stand up against this human-rights crisis. 

According to the RCMP in 2014, over 1000 Indigenous women had been murdered over the past thirty years. The more accurate number is assumed to now be closer to 4,000. That’s 4000 loved faces that have disappeared from the families and friends that love them. 

Western provinces in Canada, such as British Columbia and Alberta, are especially horrendous for MMIWG. Though the majority of the cases occur in busy cities and urban areas, on-reserve communities still require attention and care as we work to rectify this issue.

Public Knowledge

Though it’s presumed that this issue has been going on for decades, there is finally much-needed attention drawn to the movement. Suddenly law enforcement and the Canadian Justice System have recognized the epidemic and are working closely to address it. Numerous non-profit groups, charities, and organizations have opened to provide information, resources, and funding to solve these cases and gain awareness. 

One of the most essential strides in the movement is finally giving a voice and a platform to those who have been directly affected by the genocide. More people are working to take action and eliminate predatory behaviour. There is more social support than ever before; however, as a country, we still have a long way to go.

How to Help

For those who have suffered a loss or a loved one has gone missing, there is very little we can do to provide peace or closure. However, we can continue speaking their names and hope that law enforcement comes to some conclusions to solve these cases. 

There are several charities that welcome volunteers and donations. Getting involved in advocacy and lending a hand (whether it be emotionally, physically, or financially) provides assistance. Some of our favourite charities are Butterflies in Spirit, Drag the Red, and Native Youth Sexual Health Network. 

Red Dress Day, founded by Jaime Black and the REDress program, is now nationally recognized on May 5. It gives Indigenous communities the opportunity to come together and speak their stories and pain. 

Aside from the MMIWG movement specifically, it should be a priority of all Canadians to remain active in speaking out against prejudice and injustice. This means wearing an orange shirt on The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, staying educated, and being mindful of the ongoing struggles that the Indigenous community continues to experience.