Honour and Remember: Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls

A message from the Mi'kmaw Native Friendship Centre

Written by Denise One Breath Mitchell (John), Victim Support Navigator

P’jila’si (Welcome) to Mi’kma’ki, the ancestral and unceded territory of the Mi’kmaq people.

I grew up in a small Mi’kmaw tight knit community on the south coast of Newfoundland where you knew everyone and you could leave your house door unlocked. A community where strangers are welcomed, and horrific acts of violence do not occur.

That all changed on the evening of January 2019. Chantel John was a beautiful, shy, young, caring community member who loved taking care of animals. She was violently and tragically murdered by her estranged boyfriend. The tragedy shocked and left my community emotionally impacted because murder has never happened in my community. Chantel is now part of the epidemic of our missing and murdered Indigenous women. As is Tanya Jean Brooks, who was murdered on May 10, 2009 and her case still remains unsolved. This year marks her 11th anniversary and it was her mom’s mission to ensure her daughter will never be forgotten. Her mom has passed on, but we continue to support her family by hosting vigils to remember Tanya. Although we cannot gather this year to honour Tanya, I ask you to take some time on May 10 to remember her and pray for her family who want to have justice for their loved one. Because of the murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls in Canada, it also brings it close to home for me and the importance why we all need to be part of the supporting the awareness and ending the violence against Indigenous women.

 May 5th has become the National Day of Awareness for our missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls all across Turtle Island. Wearing red or displaying a red dress on May 5th is a powerful symbol to acknowledge that they are still here in spirit; in our hearts, and will never be forgotten. The REDress Project, opens a new window was created by artist Jamie Black to raise awareness for the untold numbers pf missing and murdered indigenous women and girls across Canada and to honour the mothers, daughters, and sisters who have gone missing or have been murdered.

What if this was your daughter, niece, mother or best friend?

mymnfc.com, opens a new window

A message from Halifax Public Libraries

Halifax Public Libraries and the Mi’kmaw Native Friendship Centre, inspired by the REDress project, are working in collaboration to honour the spirits of over 4,000 missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls in Canada, educate our communities about this epidemic, and empower us to move forward together in reconciliation and change. In light of COVID-19 precautions and closures, installations in our Library spaces have currently been put on hold, but we encourage you to take time at home on May 5 and every day, to honour the spirits of those lost. You can also hang a red dress, or red dress artwork in your window, as many of our Libraries have done.

Share your messages of remembrance and care in the comments, and we will share in our future Library installations.

Reading and educational resources

List created by HfxPL_LocalHistory

Grandmother, mother, daughter, granddaughter, sister, aunt, niece, daughter-in-law, cousin, friend, neighbour. These resources honour the spirits of over 4,000 missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls in Canada.

https://www.mmiwg-ffada.ca/final-report/

The destinies of Brenda and Greg intersect in this novel of passion confronting the murder and disappearance of Indigenous women and the infamous Sixties Scoop.

Helen Betty Osborne, known as Betty to her closest friends and family, dreamed of becoming a teacher. She left home to attend residential school and later moved to The Pas, Manitoba, to attend high school. On November 13, 1971, Betty was abducted and brutally murdered by four young men. Initially met with silence and indifference, her tragic murder resonates loudly today. Betty represents one of almost 1,200 Indigenous women in Canada who have been murdered or gone missing. Also available on OverDrive and Libby online collections.

Wren is devastated when her twin sister, Raven, mysteriously disappears after the two spend an evening visiting at a local pub. When Wren files a missing persons report with the local police, she is dismissed and becomes convinced the case will not be properly investigated. As she follows media reports, Wren realizes that the same heartbreak she's feeling is the same for too many families, indeed for whole Nations. Something within Wren snaps and she decides to take justice into her own hands.

Cherry Kingsley beat the odds and escaped from hell on the streets of Vancouver. Kingsley was on a spin cycle of drugs and johns when she was viciously raped at gunpoint and nearly killed. Bearing a son and connecting with her First Nations roots led her back from the brink of annihilation and gave her the courage to fight back.

Acclaimed Métis filmmaker Christine Welsh presents a compelling documentary that puts a human face on a national tragedy: the murders and disappearances of an estimated 500 Aboriginal women in Canada over the past 30 years. Available online through Overdrive and the National Film Board of Canada: https://www.nfb.ca/film/finding_dawn/

This collection brings together the voices of Indigenous and non-Indigenous academics, frontline workers and activists who weave together academic and personal narratives, spoken word and poetry in the spirit of demanding immediate action. Our intent is to honour our missing sisters and their families, to honour their lives and their stories.

After returning home from a trip, Meg Harris discovers that a friend's daughter has been missing from the Migiskan Reserve for more than two months. The police are indifferent, so she takes on the investigation herself, only to discover that her friend's daughter is not the only woman to go missing.

In Highway of Tears, Jessica McDiarmid meticulously explores the effect these tragedies have had on communities in the region, and how systemic racism and indifference towards Indigenous lives have created a culture of "over-policing and under-protection," simultaneously hampering justice while endangering young Indigenous women.

"'Highway of Tears' is about the missing or murdered women along a 724 kilometer stretch of highway in northern British Columbia. None of the 18 cold-cases since the 1960's had been solved, until project E-Pana (a special division of the RCMP) managed to link DNA to Portland drifter, Bobby Jack Fowler with the 1974 murder of 16 year-old hitchhiker, Colleen MacMillen.

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