October 2, 2015
(Ottawa, ON): Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde encourages all Canadians to attend a Sisters in Spirit rally or vigil on October 4 to honour missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls and to show support for action to end violence.
“We all must take a stand and act to end violence, to show that the lives of Indigenous women and girls matter and that one life lost is too many,” said AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde. “I urge all Canadians to stand with us to show respect for the lives of Indigenous women, girls and our families. Closing the gap in the quality of life between First Nations people and Canadians includes strengthening First Nations, families and communities. Violence against our peoples is a national tragedy and must be a national priority for action.”
National Chief Bellegarde will attend a vigil in Vancouver Sunday October 4, 2015. Reports indicate there are almost 1200 missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls in Canada.
“We continue the call for a national inquiry and national action plan to ensure safety for all our peoples,” said National Chief Bellegarde. “The right to life, security and to live free of discrimination must apply first and foremost to the most vulnerable. We can take concrete steps by investing in shelters, daycare, housing, education and many other areas critical to safety and security. We must act now to show we value First Nations women and families.”
Last month National Chief Bellegarde presented priorities for the current federal election campaign in a document called Closing the Gap: 2015 Federal Election Priorities for First Nations and Canada. The plan sets out a comprehensive agenda for action including a call for the new federal government to establish a National Inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls with full involvement of Indigenous organizations, communities and others within 100 days of the election. Priorities also address justice, safe communities and ending violence.
Sisters in Spirit vigils, presented by the Native Women’s Association of Canada, take place across the country and internationally every October 4 to honour the lives of missing and murdered Aboriginal women and girls and to help support healing for families. In 2006 there were 11 vigils, in 2014 there were 216.
For more information on Sisters in Spirit Vigils taking place across the country visit: www.nwac.ca
For more information on support for National Inquiry and work toward a coordinated action plan to end violence please visit: http://www.afn.ca/index.php/en/policy-areas/i-pledge.-end-violence and for more information on an Ontario-based First Nations led inquiry visit www.whoisshe.ca
The Assembly of First Nations is the national organization representing First Nation citizens in Canada. Follow AFN on Twitter @AFN_Comms, @AFN_Updates.