This message contains sensitive content and could be triggering. For crisis supports here in BC please contact the KUU-US Crisis Line at 1-800-588-8717 or visit the First Nations Mental Health and Wellness Support page for additional support services.
Today is Feb. 14, 2022, an annual day of remembering, honouring and standing in solidarity with the matriarchs, mothers, grandmothers, sisters, daughters, aunties and nieces in all of our lives.
This year marks the 31st annual Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) Memorial March, also known as the Stolen Sisters Memorial March. The inception of the march began in 1992 in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside (DTES) where community members demanded awareness and action as a result of members of the Indigenous and non-Indigenous women, girls and the 2SLGBTQQIA+ community going missing or being murdered at alarming rates.
Sadly, the First Nations Health Authority (FNHA) knows this isn't an isolated or one-time tragedy. Communities have been through so much over the last several years, with the COVID-19 pandemic, the ongoing Residential School recoveries, the toxic drug crisis and natural disasters. It is important to continue our healing journeys by honouring missing loved ones. The violence that Indigenous women, two-spirited people and girls experience is unacceptable and further impacts the health and well-being of all Indigenous people. We know that these actions are a result of the legacy of colonization that continues to impact us today. These legacies have created intergenerational traumas that we are continuing to see revealed in each crisis.
The lives of missing community members continue to be honoured by utilizing Indigenous ways of healing and by sharing our stories of resilience. Communities in the DTES, along the Highway of Tears, across British Columbia and Turtle Island have demonstrated this healing in the forms of community marches, healing totems and grassroots documentaries to express togetherness, healing, compassion, solidarity and community care. For example, Adaawk (A-Dow-ick) is a powerful and moving documentary that gives a glimpse into the lives of loved ones who are missing or murdered along the Highway of Tears.
The FNHA continues to work with First Nations organizations and communities doing the hard work to support healing from our shared reality. In 2021, the FNHA's Office of the Chief Medical Officer, in partnership with the Ministry of Health, released Sacred and Strong, a report on the health and wellness of First Nations women and girls living in BC. Sacred and Strong contains data, stories and teachings about the mental, emotional, physical and spiritual wellness of First Nations women at every phase of life. It is a reminder that wellness needs to be at the forefront of our lives so we can remain strong and resilient in the face of adversities.
It is important to remember that today is part of our collective and ongoing healing as individuals, communities, Nations and the broader community across Turtle Island. It is important that we put faces and names to the statistics of those who were taken from us too soon and who were part of families and communities. Their smiles, their hearts, their gifts, the family and children they left behind and the spirits that they had are reminders of their lives.
In Health and Wellness,
Colleen Erickson, Chair, FNHA Board of Directors
Richard Jock, FNHA Chief Executive Officer
Dr. Nel Wieman, FNHA Deputy Chief Medical Officer