(Ottawa, ON) – On a day to honour missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde commends the tireless commitment of families for seeking justice and healing, and reiterates calls for immediate action focused on prevention and safety.
“I lift up the far too many families across this country who share their stories of violence and loss, and reiterate my condolences to the family and friends of Mary Madeline Yellowback,” said AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde. “It is disheartening that in Canada we must demand action to establish safe environments for those most at risk for experiencing violence. I support everyone impacted by violence and families who have lost loved ones, and will continue to seek justice and healing alongside them. The strength and contributions of First Nations women must be respected and celebrated. Our daughters, our sisters, our mothers deserve nothing less than to feel valued and safe in their homes, communities and country. All governments have a role in building a country we can all be proud of, a country where every person is valued.”
Today marks twelve years of Sisters in Spirit Vigils which take place across Canada and internationally every October 4 to honour the lives of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. Hosted for the first time in 2006 by the Native Women’s Association of Canada, 11 vigils were held that year. In 2017 there were an impressive 212 vigils held across Canada and internationally.
“Today is about remembering and honouring our Sisters and supporting families still urging for change,” said AFN Women’s Council Chair Chief Denise Stonefish. “This day of importance must not only serve as an educational awareness but to reinforce that all efforts towards healing, justice, safety and prevention must continue everyday.”
The National Inquiry on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls is expected to release its final report and recommendations April 30, 2019. The final hearings are currently taking place this week in Winnipeg, Manitoba and October 15-18 in St. John’s, Newfoundland.
Advocating for the safety and security of all First Nations and preventing violence is a priority for National Chief Bellegarde and AFN Executive Committee, including the AFN Women’s Council. AFN has advocated for immediate action, including: improved access to emergency and transitional shelters, particularly in remote and rural communities; more prevention programs and mental health supports for First Nations women and girls who are survivors of all forms of abuse; support for women and girls in and exiting the sex trade; better law enforcement for human trafficking; increased access to day-care and transportation; and to address racism and sexism within provincial and federal policing and implement accountability measures.
The AFN is the national organization representing First Nations citizens in Canada. Follow AFN on Twitter @AFN_Updates.
For more information, please contact:
Jenna Young Castro
613-241-6789, ext. 201
Bilingual Communications Officer
613-241-6789 ext. 282