March raises awareness of missing and murdered women

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A protocol is needed so police, courts and the government include the families of missing and murdered aboriginal women in future decisions, speakers told the eighth annual Women’s Memorial March on Saturday.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 14/02/2015 (2736 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

A protocol is needed so police, courts and the government include the families of missing and murdered aboriginal women in future decisions, speakers told the eighth annual Women’s Memorial March on Saturday.

“There’s concern from families that people are speaking on their behalf” without first consulting them, said Nahanni Fontaine, special advisor to the province on indigenous women’s issues.

Fontaine said Manitoba should draft the first protocol in Canada on how to engage with families of victims of violence. Fontaine said “it seems odd” to have to put something in writing, “But it’s needed.”

Trevor Hagan / Winnipeg Free Press The Women's Memorial March of Manitoba took part in downtown Winnipeg on Saturday.

About 300 people gathered outside University of Winnipeg to call attention to missing and murdered indigenous women. The rally later moved inside and listened to speakers.

Among those in attendance for part of the time were Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman and Premier Greg Selinger. Several police officers also attended and were thanked by speakers.

The aroma of burning sweetgrass filled the Bulman Centre inside U of W. Some people were bussed to the event from outside Winnipeg.

Fontaine said families of victims must continue to put pressure on police and the justice system to find missing women or find those responsible for their deaths, adding there is a misperception in society that many of the missing and murdered came from families where they weren’t loved and supported.

Fontaine said she was pleased with the turnout on such a brutally cold day.

“It’s so beautiful to see so many people here,” she said.

She recalled the first rallies, where only a couple of women turned out.

“There were a lot of us working on this issue from when it wasn’t even an issue” in the public eye, she said. “You couldn’t figure out why no one was there with you.”

Speakers included family members of victims, who expressed their lack of confidence in the justice system.

“It frustrates me. The violence just continues,” said Bernadette Smith.

Nearly 1,200 aboriginal women have been murdered or gone missing in Canada in the last 30 years, including 121 in Manitoba. Demands for a national inquiry have increased, although not everyone at the rally felt it was the answer.

“I’m really not for a national inquiry. There needs to be more action” instead of more talk, said Alaya McIvor, who lost a cousin to violence.

The rally coincided with similar marches held across Canada.

Since 2009, the Winnipeg police have been working with the RCMP on a task force that focuses solely cases of women and missing women suspected to be victims of homicides.

There are 29 files from the task force, with eight involving indigenous women.

A mural on the rail bridge over Portage Avenue depicts murdered Manitoba aboriginal women, and another mural on the south side shows portraits of missing Manitoba aboriginal women.

bill.redekop@freepress.mb.ca​

 

 

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