OTTAWA-On July 5, the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) marched in solidarity with participants at the Women’s Worlds 2011 congress to focus attention on the alarmingly high rates of violence against aboriginal women and girls-and the lack of effective response from government and law enforcement.
At noon, almost 1,000 marchers advanced to Centre Block on Parliament Hill in an event featuring singers, a drum circle and comments from Laurie Odjick, whose young daughter Maisy disappeared with a girlfriend in 2008.
The NWAC’s Sisters in Spirit (SIS) project, begun in 2005, has collected information on the disproportionately high numbers of disappeared indigenous girls and women-to date documenting 582 across Canada. It has an extensive database and continues to track new cases weekly. Some of the projects’s findings appear in Voices of Our Sisters in Spirit: A Report to Families ad Communities (2009).
SIS shares NWAC’s objective to ensure effective access to police resources and justice without discrimination for the families of missing aboriginal women. The NWAC is seeking more funding from the federal government for other undertakings, including the hiring of legal counsel to represent it at BC’s Missing Women Commission of Inquiry.
WW 2011, an interdisciplinary congress with more than 1,900 attendees, explored how women are impacted by equality, human rights, economics, labour, education, environment and development. The largest international gathering of women ever to take place in Canada, the congress’s aim is to enhance women’s leadership skills and organizational capacity.