Creating a voice

October 4, 2018 | Society
In 1970, my Aunt Stella was 19 years old and six months pregnant. One day, she went out into the bush with people she knew and just disappeared.

When my family went to the police for help, not much was done. The police did look for a bit, but didn’t communicate with my family — they just heard rumours about the case. It was officially ruled a death with no foul play, but her body was never found. It was treated like a non-issue.

Today, my Aunt Freda is still speaking on her sister Stella’s behalf. When the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls visited Yellowknife last year, my Aunt Freda told her story. She wants her voice to be heard, to be acknowledged.

That’s what this day is about — creating a voice for the women and families who have not been able to tell their stories. It’s really important to shed light on this issue – not only on the facts, but on how we can prevent this from continuing. It’s been going on for way too long. We need to challenge the idea that Indigenous people don’t matter. We all have to come together to move forward. This isn’t a women's issue. It isn’t an Indigenous issue. It's everyone’s issue.

— Roslyn Cardinal, Administrative and Communications Coordinator, kihêw waciston, and Sexual Violence Support Guide, OSVPER

October 4 is the second annual Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Honouring and Awareness Day. In a 2014 report, the RCMP estimated that nearly 1,200 Indigenous women went missing or were murdered between 1980 and 2012. Many other groups estimate the number of women to be closer to 4,000. This day is an act of solidarity and support, honouring those missing and murdered, and their families. MacEwan is hosting a number of events to commemorate this day as part of Sexual Violence Awareness Week.

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