May 5 is the National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls
This day of awareness commemorates the missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls who will not be returning home to their families and communities. It is also about creating awareness and conversation about the reality that Indigenous women, including those who express themselves as women, including cisgender females, trans women, non-binary people and those who identify as Two Spirit/Indigiqueer, are targeted for violence more than any other group in Canada. Holding space for these women and girls and their families, this day keeps the focus on the lives lost and the questions that remain unanswered.
Cary-Lee Calder from Quatsino First Nation, is still looking for answers around the disappearance of her niece, Angeline Pete, who has been missing since May 21, 2011. The overwhelming heartbreak continues for her whole family, and their entire community has been impacted. Cary-Lee shared Angeline's story in the Sacred and Strong: Upholding Our Matriarchal Roles report that talks about the health and wellness journeys of Indigenous women and girls in BC. In it, she makes a plea for any information about Angeline's disappearance. Cary-Lee's words to all Indigenous women are, “Stay connected, speak your truth, and stay safe. Your voice matters. It is time for our Indigenous women to rise together in strength and unity and to claim our space in this world."
Sacred and Strong is meant to not only recognize and honour missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls and their families and communities, but also to highlight the strength and resilience of First Nations women and girls and to celebrate the many ways they are thriving. Grounded in First Nations perspectives of wellness, it contains stories and teachings about the mental, emotional, physical and spiritual health and well-being of First Nations women at every phase of life.
The distinctive painting featured in Sacred and Strong was specifically created by artist Melanie Rivers, of Squamish First Nation. It celebrates and visually captures the strength, resilience and wisdom of Indigenous women through every life stage, with Melanie making a powerful dedication that is embedded within the artwork itself, “To all First Nations women and girls. All of you. You are beautiful. You are loved. You are resilient. May you be free from pain and suffering. May you be safe. May you love yourself. May you be healthy. May you feel strong. May you find your roots and feel grounded, connected, supported." – Melanie Rivers, Tiyaltelwet, Squamish First Nation
For more information about Canada's Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG), the following resources are available:
National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls: https://www.mmiwg-ffada.ca/final-report/
Films and documentaries: https://www.kairoscanada.org/missing-murdered-indigenous-women-girls/films
The REDress Project: https://www.jaimeblackartist.com/exhibitions/
Mental health and wellness supports are available here (LINK) https://www.fnha.ca/what-we-do/mental-wellness-and-substance-use/mental-health-and-wellness-supports