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Aboriginal Justice: Who is Missing on Valentine’s Day? Peter… - A Bible and a Bat'leth
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Date: 5:20 pm Sun 17th of Feb, 2013
Subject: (no subject)
Security: Public
Tags:activism, ajt, ally, cpt, toronto, work
Aboriginal Justice: Who is Missing on Valentine’s Day?
Peter Haresnape

Every time I think of you
I just can’t hold back my tears
Tell me please, tell me now
Why did you have to go?

St Valentine’s Day is usually a day for love songs, but this song spoke of grief and loss. Hundreds gathered outside Toronto’s Police Headquarters to remember those stolen by violence, apathy and prejudice during the eighth annual vigil to remember the missing and murdered Aboriginal women. CPT’s Aboriginal Justice Team were one of many endorsing organisations present.

Volunteers organised by ‘No More Silence’ handed out water and strawberries for a ceremony led by Wanda Whitebird (Mik’maq nation); and a bright pink leaflet with the names of over seventy murdered or missing Aboriginal women in Ontario.

The leaflet also referenced the history of the first women’s memorial march in response to the murder of a Coast Salish woman, held on unceded Coast Salish Territories, Valentine’s Day 1991, in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. This year, at least seventeen events were planned nationwide. Toronto vigils started in 2006, during the trial of serial killer Robert Pickton, in solidarity with women of the Downtown Eastside where many of his victims came from. Pickton boasted of murdering forty-nine women. He was eventually convicted and imprisoned on six counts of second-degree murder.

The violence against Aboriginal women, however, goes far beyond a single killer. Young Aboriginal women are five times more likely than other young women to die as the result of violence. The growing list of missing or murdered now has over 600 names, and could be as high as 3000. These are not isolated incidents of crime. Racist, misogynistic violence is at work, backed up by the structure of colonialism – an oppressive spirituality/mythology and physical mechanism that labels indigenous institutions, laws, land, language and bodies as inferior and destined for exploitation, replacement or removal by settler culture.

Colonialism seeks to eliminate Aboriginal cultures, in order to make the land available for exploitation, targeting women particularly. Violence against the land is intertwined with violence against the bodies of women. The ceremony and story of the vigil addresses both oppressions:

“No More Silence chooses to practice ceremony in honouring our missing sisters both as an act of love for those who are gone and those who remain behind to mourn as well as an assertion of sovereignty. It is the group's understanding that settler violence against Indigenous women is inherent to ongoing colonization and land theft. Indigenous women who are at the centre of our communities have always presented an obstacle to the colonial project as evidenced currently in their leadership of Idle No More.

[We] look to ancient wisdoms such as the teachings of the Three Sisters in shaping how we work together for a better future – one that will honour all our relations and protect our mother – the land.”
from Ceremony as an Act of Sovereignty - read The Three Sisters teaching by following the link.

CPTnet Article: Stolen Sisters, Strong Voices

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