Please, pay attention to what’s missing at this year’s Summer Solstice Aboriginal Arts Fest. And please, join with me to demand a national inquiry into missing and murdered Aboriginal women. Tomorrow, June 21, is National Aboriginal Day. June is National Aboriginal History Month and today, June 20, is Education Day at the Summer Solstice Aboriginal Arts Festival and Powwow at Vincent Massey Park.
Let’s Use our Knowledge
Right now, students and teachers from across Ottawa are on site to participate in cultural workshops and other activities. But they won’t have access to one learning opportunity. At last year’s festival, the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) presented the Faceless Dolls Project. This was a collection of 600 felt dolls made to honour Canada’s missing and murdered Aboriginal women. The project aimed to draw attention to a national tragedy and to help people understand its impact on children and families and whole communities.
Imagine if your daughter was missing? Your mother? Your sister or friend? A few weeks ago, I called the NWAC to find out if the Faceless Dolls Project would be on site for the 2014 festival. No, I was told. There have been funding cuts. Now even the project itself has disappeared.
But don’t forget this: “Aboriginal women are eight times more likely to be murdered than non-indigenous women.” That’s the conclusion reached by James Anaya, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, after a visit to Canada last fall.
In a statement to sum up his findings, he drew attention to “the disturbing phenomenon of aboriginal women missing and murdered at the hands of both aboriginal and non-aboriginal assailants, whose cases have a much higher tendency to remain unresolved than those involving non-aboriginal victims.”
And he called it an “epidemic.”
The guy sent here by the United Nations concluded “a comprehensive and nation-wide inquiry into the issue could help ensure a coordinated response and the opportunity for the loved ones of victims to be heard.”
We should be talking about this–to our civic leaders and our federal politicians and to anyone and everyone who will listen. We should be educating out kids about human rights and collective responsibility. We should be raising our voices on behalf of the 600 families that are bereft. Let’s speak up.