First, I love being in places and hearing a land and Treaty acknowledgement, whether its at a community meeting, a sports venue or in my granddaughter’s daycare. I think Yes, we are still here!
I was speaking with my friend today about the Womens March that is happening tomorrow, January 18, 2020 in Winnipeg. She asked who is speaking? Are there Indigenous Women speaking?
We have both attended previous marches because like many we believe in the paramountcy of Human Rights which are Indigenous Rights which are Womens Rights which are Children’s Rights which are 2SLGBTQQIA rights, which are Environmental Rights!
What has been missing in all the Womens Marches in Winnipeg is the voice of Indigenous Women.
For sure, organizers are mindful of land acknowledgements and bringing in an Elder to offer a blessing, maybe a drum. Missing always is the action beyond the March.
In Canada, we have all been witness and Indigenous Women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA sisters have just finished participating in the most contentious and trauma-inducing National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. This had been an Inquiry into the situation of Missing and Murdered Loved ones that families and advocates had fought for over many years and successive governments. The marches have never acknowledged this hard-won victory for Indigenous Women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA peoples.
The National Inquiry found that successive Governments have advanced genocidal policies against Indigenous Women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA peoples. This is from policies such as the Indian Act which in fact created refugees known internationally as internally displaced persons for generations of Indigenous Women and their families for generations and have done nothing to remedy this situation. Every move towards the acknowledgement of these genocidal policies has been because Indigenous Women stood up, went beyond a march or a public protest and took governments to court. They have won in every instance.
The final report of the National Inquiry released on June 2, 2019, issued 231 Calls to Justice which are legal imperatives for Governments to Act. For those that organized the Womens March across Canada and in Winnipeg, I urge you to take up the Calls to Justice, to take up the call for allyship. If you are not sure, how to do this, go to page 30 of the Calls to Justice for resources to support you.
I would also like to bring to your immediate attention, the Calls to Justice for All Canadians. The National Inquiry and indeed Indigenous Women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA peoples call on you to give life to these Calls to Justice. We will move farther together when we address the causes of violence and work together to create a safer society for all of us.
15.1 Denounce and speak out against violence against Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA people.
15.2 Decolonize by learning the true history of Canada and Indigenous history in your local area. Learn about and celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ history, cultures, pride, and diversity, acknowledging the land you live on and its importance to local Indigenous communities, both historically and today.
15.3 Develop knowledge and read the Final Report. Listen to the truths shared and acknowledge the burden of these human and Indigenous rights violations, and how they impact Indigenous Women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA people.
15.4 using what you learned and some of the resources suggested, become a strong ally. Being a strong ally involves more that just tolerance; it means actively working to break down barriers and to support others in every relationship and encounter in which you participate.
15.5 Confront and speak out against racism, sexism, ignorance, homophobia, and transphobia, and teach or encourage others to do the same, wherever it occurs; in your home, in your workplace or in social settings.
15.6 Protect, support and promote the safety of women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA people by acknowledging and respecting the value of every person and every community, as well as the right of Indigenous Women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA people to generate their own, self-determined solutions.
15.7 Create time and space for relationships based on respect as human being, supporting and embracing differences with kindness, love and respect. Learn about Indigenous principles of relationship specific to those Nations or communities in your local area and work and put them into practice in all your relationships with Indigenous Peoples.
15.8 Help hold all governments accountable to act on the Calls to Justice, and to implement them according to the important principles we set out.
Beyond the critical importance of land acknowledgments is the responsibility to take action. What will you do to ensure that the Calls for Justice will be implemented?