CAMPAIGN HONOURS MISSING NATIVE WOMEN
They are Canada 's lingering question mark.
In the last 20 years in Canada, more than 500 aboriginal women have disappeared.
This month, the Native Women's Association of Canada (NWAC), the Anglican Church of Canada and the United Church of Canada will issue a poster in support of a project called Sisters in Spirit. It is an awareness campaign that also serves as a memorial to the missing.
The coalition's poster, which will be sent to Anglican parishes and Ministry partners in January, will include resources developed by First Nations women including liturgical material, biblical resources, prayers and a pastoral reflection. NWAC has designated Saturday, Feb 14, as a national day of honour and remembrance for the missing women and is asking churches that weekend to include prayers for the missing during worship services.
A nationwide public campaign will launch on March 22. Its goal is to lobby the federal government to commit $10 million to develop education programs and workshops for the families of the missing, in addition to establishing a hotline and registry for reporting the women's disappearances and documenting their cases.
Kukdookaa Terri Brown, president of the Ottawa-based NWAC, suspects that apart from those who loved them, very few people in Canada even care about the disappeared. She says most of the cases have never been properly investigated, and many have never even been formally recorded, although Amnesty International is asking for a record of the human rights abuses surrounding these women's lives.
Ms. Brown wants to make Canada a safer place for native women like her younger sister, Ada, who died three years ago in Prince George, BC. The 39-year-old woman had been brutally beaten and her head injuries were left untreated. The case was never investigated.
"She went to the doctor three times complaining of a massive headache. But she was sent away," says Ms Brown. "When she died, and we went to the funeral home, my sister and I didn't recognize her. It was obvious she had been badly beaten several times, yet the authorities had ruled she died of ‘natural causes'. It is a sad thing when you realize your baby sister was marginalized in life and in death". Ms Brown and her family are not alone in their grief and frustration. Each time she speaks at native and non-native gatherings, she hears other heart-rending stories.
"People come to me with names written on little scraps of paper. Sometimes they tell me they haven't seen their sister or daughter or aunt or cousin for more than 30 years, says Ms Brown. The families have lost hope that they will ever be found alive, but they want to find out what happened to them. Mothers and grandmothers have gone to their graves not knowing what happened. Families need the closure of knowing."
"When DNA evidence from the pig farm in Port Coquitlam (BC) showed that aboriginal women had died there, the country started to see what people in the native population have been living with for years. It is shocking to think that more than 50 native women disappeared in Vancouver, but we also know there are more than 110 missing aboriginal women in Alberta. I'm sure that when we finally compile the database of the missing we will be horrified at the numbers."
Ms Brown says racism and apathy about the plight of native women are at the heart of the issue. "It is not as if their families did not report they were missing," she says. "When they are reported missing, they are largely ignored. The focus always seems to be on the missing woman's lifestyle. If there's a disappearance in any other racial group, there are tremendous resources put into the investigation. The neglect of this issue, and the lack of responsibility taken by the authorities, is racism."
Last February, Ms Brown was a speaker at an Ottawa meeting of the aboriginal program of Kairos, the Toronto-based ecumenical organization devoted to social justice issues. She told the gathering her organization was doing its best to tell these women's stories, but a national effort was needed to get the word out across the country. Chris Hiller, indigenous justice co-ordinator with the Anglican Church of Canada, says she had heard various stories about women missing from individual communities, but she remembers the shock of hearing the collective numbers.
"When you are talking to people in native communities, you hear these stories from everywhere (in Canada ), but I didn't realize the full extent of it until the Kairos meeting," she says. "The racism is well documented all the way through the justice system, and aboriginal women in Canada top the list in terms of those most affected by violence."
Choice Okoro, human rights and reconciliation initiatives staff person at the United Church of Canada, says that once a native woman leaves a reserve, she becomes vulnerable In urban settings there is seldom a supportive environment for those who left their families to find jobs.
"Often, the women end up on the street. And in the cities, the attitude seems to be they should stay on the reserve and live in poverty," says Ms Okoro. " In 1996, Indian and Northern Affairs released a report which found that aboriginal women between the ages of 25 and 44 were five times more likely to die violently. "The system knows this is the case. Now, we want to know what we are going to do about it."
2nd Annual Little Bands Youth Hockey Tournament 2004
March 1 to 7 , 2004
Sioux Lookout Arena
4 teams per Divisions : Atoms -9 to 10 yrs old
PeeWee - 11 to 12 yrs old
Bantams - 13 to 14 yrs old
Midgets - 15 - 16 yrs old
Entry Fee : $750.00 per team
1st teams paid will be guaranteed a spot
for more information or to confirm your team , call Steven Fiddler at (807)737-2152 (h)
Wawatay News is celebrating thirty years of publication with the launch of their electronic archives. One issue from each year of publishing since 1974 when Wawatay News was first published under the Keesis banner is now available on-line. Click here to read about all the history, the work and the changes that have happened across Nishnawbe Aski Nation over the the past thirty years.
These archives were made possible by a grant from FedNor in partnership with Keewaytinook Okimakanak's K-Net team. The Wawatay newspaper team now has the tools and the capacity to begin moving all their material on-line. Additional resources are being sought to continue the development of this on-line resource.
Another initiative in partnership with Keewaytinook Okimakanak and Industry Canada's First Nations SchoolNet program will expand and develop these on-line resources to be used in the First Nation schools across the region.
At the Lac Seul First Nation Christmas gathering on December 19 in Sioux Lookout, Charles Fox confirmed his intentions to seek the Liberal nomination for the Kenora-Rainy River riding. Rumours of his career shift from First Nations politics to the federal political system were circulating since the Liberal party convention where Charles was invited to speak to the convention members.
Charles will be competing against Bob Nault, the current Member of Parliament and former minister of Indian and Northern Affairs for this riding's Liberal nomination. Bob announced his intentions to once again be the Liberal candidate for the riding earlier in December.
The December 29 issue of Wawatay News contained three funding competitions from Nishnawbe Aski Nation to support local youth and recreation projects.
NAN RECREATION SUBCOMMITTEE ANNOUNCEMENTS
REQUEST FOR PROPOSALS
The Nishnawbe Aski Nation Recreation Subcommittee and the Decade for Youth Development Office is seeking proposals form community-based programs to fund recreation activities this fall and winter. A maximum of $2,000 is available to youth programs and youth councils seeking support for programming in the areas of recreation / sport / leisure / leadership development. Contact Melanie Goodchild, Decade for Youth Development Coordinator at Nishnawbe Aski Nation at 1-800-465-9952 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please call for an application package. A total of 15 grants are available. The deadline for application is 5pm EST on Friday, January 16, 2004. Youth Councils are particularly encouraged to apply.
The Recreation Subcommittee is seeking original artwork submissions from NAN artists. The committee will be using the chosen artwork as a cover design for a soon to be published Recreation Resource Manual. Artists must submit their design by Friday, January 16, 2004. Please send in your original design to Nishnawbe Aski Nation Recreation Subcommittee, 100 Backstreet Road, Unit #200, Thunder Bay, Ontario, P7J 1L2. The winning artist will receive a $500 fee for their design. This contest is open to all ages and professional artists are invitied to submit a design. Runner up designs may be used as artwork throughout the manual.
Request for Proposals
Nishnawbe Aski Nation is pleased to announce that we are now requesting that communities and/or Tribal Councils submit an application for a funding opportunity towards Athletic Development. A maximum amount of $3,000.00 will be given to the successful applicants that meet the criteria.
Special consideration will be given to the applicants that successfully display interest in development towards the following sports: Archery, Athletics, Badminton, Baseball, Basketball, Boxing, Canoeing, Golf, Field Lacrosse, Rifle Shooting, Soccer, Softball, Swimming, Tae Kwon Do, Volleyball, and Wrestling.
Deadline for submissions will be January 23, 2004 and all projects must be completed by March 31, 2004. To receive an application or for more information please contact Carol Rowland, Special Projects Coordinator, at 1-800-465-9952 or 807-623-8228.
NEW WEB SITE LAUNCHED
The Northern Ontario Indigenous Sports Network has launched a web site to promote recreation and sport in the North. If you are looking for information on sporting events, recreation activities, or looking to connect with other athletes this is the home page to visit. The web site can be viewed at www.noisn.on.ca. See you online!
Personal web pages at MyKnet.org continue to be the most popular on-line space for the Nishnawbe Aski to browse. In December there were over 21 million hits on this K-Net server (over 5.5 million more hits from the previous month)! The average daily hits on this server rose to nearly 700,000 hits each day!
All together there were over 29 MILLION hits occurring on the six most popular monitored K-Net servers throughout December. Specifically, on these six servers with traffic graphs, there were a total of 29,020,325 hits made to these on-line services provided by Keewaytinook Okimakanak. The six servers include myknet.org, knet.ca, webmail.knet.ca, hosting.knet.ca, highschool.knet.ca and photos.knet.ca (just click on the server to see the traffic monitoring chart for each server). There were 469,682 visits made during this period to these six servers, indicating that people are exploring these sites more and more.
Most of the K-Net servers that are being monitored for hits, visits and usage statistics using the webalizer program again showed an increase during the month. But http://myknet.org rose by more than 5.5 million hits to demonstrate the rapid take up of these communication tools among users across the north.