(Toronto, ON, October 2, 2020) The Chiefs of Ontario and Ontario Regional Chief RoseAnne Archibald are marking October 4th, Sisters in Spirit Day, by standing in support alongside the families of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls and survivors and calling for immediate action from the provincial and federal governments to ensure the safety and security of Indigenous women and girls, across Canada.

“This year, on Sisters in Spirit Day, the Chiefs of Ontario and I will be honouring the families, survivors and the thousands of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. We ask that Canadians from coast to coast to coast, to stand in solidarity and remembrance as we call for justice and immediate action to ensure the safety and security of our sisters, aunties, and mothers,” said Ontario Regional Chief, RoseAnne Archibald.

In June 2019, the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) released its final report titled, “Reclaiming Power and Place.” The report included 231 Calls for Justice to address the systemic racism and colonial violence Indigenous women and girls have faced for decades and clear steps of how Canadians can be a part of that change. Since its release, the federal government has committed to developing a National Action Plan to prevent and address violence against Indigenous women and girls by June 2020. Due to COVID-19, this commitment has not been met.

“By allowing Barbara Kentner’s murderer to have his charges downgraded from second-degree murder to manslaughter, the Superior Court Justice proves that this type of violence will be permitted without the full repercussions of the law. I strongly call on both levels of government to develop a strong joint action plan with First Nations to ensure that our Indigenous women are safe, protected and respected.

The Canadian government is continuing to show that the lives of Indigenous women across the country are not a priority. This week, we heard the nation’s outcry for justice following the death of Joyce Echaquan after nurses verbally assaulted her because she was First Nations. The abhorrent words and contempt shown to a dying mom were tragic and hurtful for everyone who watched the video online. The government must act now to protect the lives of our Indigenous women and girls.”

Ontario Regional Chief RoseAnne Archibald

“We ask each and every one of you, whether you are a parent, in any of the four levels of government, a police officer, a judge, a teacher, how are you contributing to eliminate violence and death of Indigenous Women and Girls? We urge you to assess and determine how we can all work together to address the patriarchal systems, policies, laws, and attitudes that contribute to systemic racism, discrimination and injustices. We have many people at grassroots levels who have raised their voices, only to fall on deaf ears. This must change; we must commit to the efforts and proceed with action.

We use the term “targeted” instead of “vulnerable”, Barbara Kentner, Tina Fontaine, Joyce Echaquan were not vulnerable; they were targeted because the existing systems allow them to be; the systems say they are worthy of justice. On Sisters in Spirit Day, we ask you to evaluate and determine what changes you will make.”

Anna Betty Achneepineskum, Chair of the First Nations Women’s Caucus

Sisters in Spirit Day takes place every year on October 4th and is an opportunity for communities across Canada to honour the lives of the missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls and gender diverse people, and support grieving families by creating space for healing through participation at a Sisters in Spirit vigil. For more information on how to participate in a virtual vigil or socially distant vigil in your area, please visit: https://www.nwac.ca/event/sisters-in-spirit-virtual-vigil/

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The Chiefs of Ontario is a political forum and a secretariat for collective decision making, action, and advocacy for the 133 First Nation communities located within the boundaries of the province of Ontario, Canada. Follow Chiefs of Ontario on Facebook or Twitter @ChiefsOfOntario

Chiefs of Ontario – Media Contact:
Genna Benson
Communications Officer
Telephone: 416-523-4020
Email: Genna.Benson@coo.org

Political Office – Media Contact:
Felecia White
Communications Officer
Office of the Ontario Regional Chief
ORC.Comms@coo.org