Strawberry Ceremony in Honour of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and those who have died Violent Deaths by Colonialism

February 14, 2014

Strawberry Ceremony with Wanda Whitebird begins at 12:30 Police Headquarters 40 College Street at Bay, Toronto

Community Feast catered by NaMeRes at the 519 Church Street Community Centre; 519 Church Street following the rally.

*If you would like to join the CWTP contingent, we will meet at 563 Spadina Ave at 12NN and move together to 40 College Street

Please leave your agency and organizations signs and banners at home and make some in honour of women who have died instead.

Tokens will be available at the rally.

Three Indigenous women have died violent deaths in Toronto since last year’s ceremony. This has led No More Silence to create a community owned database to document and investigate such deaths in collaboration with Families of Sisters in Spirit and the Native Youth Sexual Health Network

We continue to raise our voices in denouncing the racism and complicity of state institutions and we support the demand for a national public inquiry led by Indigenous grass roots women and supported by a United Nations Investigation into Missing & Murdered Indigenous women in Canada

According to research conducted by the Native Women Association of Canada (NWAC) under the Sisters In Spirit Program, over 600 Indigenous women have been murdered or gone missing, most of them over the last 30 years.

Despite clear evidence that this is an ongoing issue, the federal government decided in the fall of 2010 to end funding to Sisters in Spirit. Instead monies in the amount of $10 million have been dedicated to a central RCMP missing person centre. The same institution – who, along with the Vancouver Police Department, failed to properly investigate Pickton in 1997 – was at the centre of a public inquiry in Vancouver. The sham inquiry into the failed Pickton investigation has since been completed with no consequences for any guilty parties and was boycotted by 20 of the 21 groups who were granted standing due to the denial of adequate funding for legal defense.

Pickton, who was convicted for six murders, has admitted to killing 49 women. A total of 18 murders occurred after he was arrested and released for the attempted murder of a sex worker in 1997. This is blood on police hands, yet RCMP officers testifying at the sham inquiry state “there are few things they would change about how they did their work.”

It should come as no surprise that the Committee to End Discrimination Against Women at the United Nations has visited the country to investigate Canada’s missing and murdered Indigenous women.

On February 14th we come together in solidarity with the women who started this vigil over 20 years ago in Vancouver’s DTES, and with the marches and rallies that will be taking place across this land. We stand in defense of our lives and to demonstrate against the complicity of the state in the ongoing genocide of Indigenous women and the impunity of state institutions and actors (police, RCMP, coroners’ offices, the courts, and an indifferent federal government) that prevents justice for all Indigenous peoples.

No More Silence began holding ceremony at police headquarters on February 14th 9 years ago. 2 years ago we formed the February 14th Organizing Committee in an effort to broaden community participation in the planning of the event – the committee is made up of The Native Youth Sexual Health Network Sistering and other feminist and Indigenous community organizations.

Endorsed by: Toronto Rape Crisis Centre/Multicultural Women against Rape; Toronto Bolivia Solidarity;DAWN Ontario DisAbled Women’s Network Ontario, OCAP, Centre for Women’s Studies in Education at OISE, Native Women’s Resource Centre of Toronto Maggies TO Toronto Council Fire Native Cultural Centre, Anduhyaun, Ontario Aboriginal HIV Strategy, Toronto Council Fire Native Cultural Centre

Printing by Opirg York and the Aboriginal Students’ Association at York

List of Feb 14th Memorial Marches in other communities:

http://womensmemorialmarch.wordpress.com/national