ILPS Canada – Statement and call for solidarity
On February 14 Spirit Sisters and those that love them will be holding vigils and marches demonstrating their commitment to “NO MORE STOLEN SISTERS”. Indigenous grassroots women and those who stand in solidarity with them will be raising their voices and rallying in the streets demanding justice and for a national public inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous women. We at ILPS-Canada share their demands, commitments, and will be taking it to the streets in support.
The first memorial vigil was held in 1991 in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside in response to the murder of a Coast Salish woman on Powell Street. From anger, despair, and mourning women took action to create an annual march on Valentine’s Day to express compassion, community, and their commitments to end the disappearances of Indigenous women. The women’s memorial march continues across this land to honour the lives of missing and murdered women and to demand justice in their absence.
The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) under the Sisters In Spirit Program reports that over 600 Indigenous women have been murdered or gone missing over the last 20-years within the politically constructed borders of the Canadian nation-state. The deaths and disappearances of these women have been ignored, gone unsolved, and unpunished. Despite clear evidence that this is an ongoing issue, the federal government decided in the fall of 2010 to end funding to Sisters in Spirit. Instead monies in the amount of $10 million have been dedicated to a central RCMP missing person centre; an institution that has historically failed to adequately investigate into reports of disappearing indigenous women. Building on the momentum of past actions we must rally together against the continual feminicide of Indigenous women and the impunity of Canadian state institutions and actors that stand as gatekeepers preventing justice for all indigenous peoples.
We at ILPS-Canada extend our support and solidarity to the courageous women and Indigenous organizations working to ensure that the lives of our lost sisters not be forgotten. Their memories inspire us to continue to demand more for those with whom we share a sisterhood. We encourage those in our network to promote and attend the vigils and walks taking place. For a list of the Feb. 14th Memorial Marches happening please visit: http://womensmemorialmarch.wordpress.com/national/
Additionally, we at ILPS-Canada would like to acknowledge the valiant efforts being made by grassroots women’s organizations within our network participating in the One Billion Rising Campaign taking place also on February 14 (http://onebillionrising.org/). Organizations, such as GABRIELA-Philippines have been engaging in dancing flash mobs and awareness raising events linking violence against women to our current imperialist global order. We commend those in our network who will be rising on Feb 14 highlighting the connections between existing capitalist patriarchy, economic policy, development aggression, and violence against women. We salute these organizations not only for their ability to mobilize women and men to “STRIKE, DANCE, and RISE” on the 14th, but also for their ceaseless efforts to step-by-step organize and empower marginalized peoples toward becoming agents of change striving toward genuine democracy and equality.
Hence on February 14, we at ILPS-Canada will march and dance in solidarity with the Spirit Sisters here and our global sisters aboard to end violence against women. Let this day invigorate us to push forward with our continued commitments, efforts, and actions for the realization of national liberation, genuine democracy and social liberation, which will inevitably bring about equality in its many and varied forms.
— ILPS-Canada Coordinating Committee