Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Memorial March
How is everyone doing? Well this weekend is for most people Valentine’s day weekend! A weekend to be with your valentine and the ones you love. And it is for me too but I am choosing to spend this weekend giving some love to those who have gone in the spirit world and had their earth time stolen from them. The Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women. To learn more, read my two previous articles here and here.
If you live in Canada, you must have heard about this issue, with a national inquiry put in place to investigate the disappearance of over 1200 Indigenous women. “Issue” does not even seem like the right word. A tragedy, a huge injustice and a cause that we ALL need to know about is more like it. So this weekend is the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Memorial March. It is taking place in a few cities in Canada, including in Vancouver, a block away from my office. In a neighborhood known as the “downtown eastside (DTES)”, the “Skidrow” of Canada. A place I can honestly say I feel very comfortable in, as weird as it might seem. I talk to people on the streets all the time. And each day I am amazed by the humanity of the people down there and the care they show. For me and for others. Don’t get me wrong, I get yelled at every day but I also laugh with clients every day. And have very sweet conversations. So without further ado, let’s talk about this annual march and other projects in place to remember and honor the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW).
So far my posts have been about the Native culture, practices and beliefs and today I want to switch gears for a bit. As with the Native culture, also comes trauma. Actually years and years of trauma. There will soon be a section specifically about historical trauma but I thought I would introduce the notion here. Historical trauma or intergenerational trauma is trauma that is passed down from one generation to the other. Our behaviors are learned, as children we learn to behave a certain way. To copy someone, to protect ourselves, to survive. Violence, substance abuse and mental health issues have a higher prevalence in the Native people. Violent ways or substance abuse issues are passed down from great grand-parents, to grand-parents, to parents to children who keep it going with their children. Remember the saying about what we do affects the next seven generations? Well this is what I mean. In order to survive, those unhealthy patterns are repeated.
The effects of events such as the introduction of alcohol by the white man, the loss of the lands, the residential schools system and the welfare scoop of the 1960’s, to name a few, still have a major effect on the Native people. Who are trying to sift through the trauma they themselves went through as well as their ancestors. Some ceremonies have a healing purpose, such as the healing circle. Some stories, some of us would not believe are true. But they are, they are. Such violence and such pain. But the traditional native way of healing, called the Red Road or the Red Path, offers a way of life that is healing. And it is much needed within that culture to break the cycle so that they and the next generations can be healthy.
Missing women and warrior song
In Canada, of the women who go missing or are murdered each year, 80% are Aboriginal. Some were without families to miss them or report them missing. In British Columbia (BC), many of those women have disappeared on what is now referred to as the Highway of Tears, a stretch of highway 16 between Prince George and Prince Rupert. The murders of those women, committed between 1969 and 2011, are often referred to as the Highway of Tears murders and still constitute an open investigation. The Native world, as wide as it can be, is also a small world. And chances are that if you talk to a Native person in BC, they will have known in one way or another, one of those women from the Highway of Tears. For more information, you can visit:
The Women’s warrior song below, is a song in honour of those missing women across Canada (notice the eagle circling above them). I first heard it at a pow wow a few years ago. At the time, I did not know what the song or its meaning was. Nonetheless, I had a strong reaction to it. I suddenly felt ill, struggled breathing and started sweating. Until I focused on a little girl dancing in her moccasins around the drummers. When I told an Elder I had a strange experience, without me saying anything, he described how I had felt. I asked him how he knew. His answer: because you were visited by a spirit and you felt its pain and energy. An experience I will never forget. To this day, I still have chills every time I hear it.