National Indigenous History Month this year begins in mourning.
With the tragic discovery of the remains of 215 children at a former residential school, we are reminded yet again of the devastating realities that Indigenous communities have always known. Their voices were not heard. We must step forward and demand responsibility from our government, holding space as Indigenous communities process their collective grief.
June 3, 2021, marks the second anniversary since Reclaiming Power and Place, the Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, was released. The past two years have seen little action as Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA people continue to experience disproportionately high rates of violence. The Calls for Justice have not changed. More must be done.
YWCA Metro Vancouver, in our commitment towards reconciliation, stands with the individuals, families and communities to demand truth, justice and transformative change.
We call on the municipal, provincial and federal governments to immediately:
- Make meaningful progress toward implementing the 231 Calls for Justice from the National Inquiry’s Final Report
- Provide ample resources towards the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 calls to action, especially allocating funds to calls to actions 72-76 on locating missing children and burial information.
We also want to highlight that The Native Women's Association of Canada released their own calls for justice, with short- medium- and long-term actions to end attacks on Indigenous women, girls and gender diverse people.
What we’re asking other allies to do
We ask that you join us: read the report and reflect on the actions you can take to centre Indigenous-led initiatives; address racism and discrimination towards Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA peoples.
Want to help? Here's what you can do:— IRSSS (@IRSSurvivor) May 31, 2021
• Learn about the impacts of the Indian Residential School system
• Read the TRC's 94 recommendations
• Contact your MPs and local officials
• Actively listen to people of First Nations, Inuit and Métis backgrounds
This is my grandmother Marceline and her children, my father, aunties and uncles. They all attended the #KamloopsIndianResidentialSchool. My father pictured in the bottom right. My family became powerful political leaders in the fight for Secwepemc land, title & rights. pic.twitter.com/s5QKEujFQv— Kanahus Manuel (@KanahusFreedom) May 31, 2021
Learn about the past research done by the #TRC and what the NCTR continues to do to find all the children who never returned home from Residential School. https://t.co/UVDztEEb4D https://t.co/TJtZLQDfpq pic.twitter.com/fbiCfF03SR— NCTR (@NCTR_UM) May 30, 2021
Amplify these organizations and resources
- Native Women’s Association of Canada brought the crisis to light and has been doing decades of work committed to developing concrete actions to end the cycle of violence that affects Indigenous communities. Follow them on Twitter (@NWAC_CA) and Instagram (@nwac_ca)
- No More Silence (NMS) is gathering names of missing and murdered Indigenous women and aims to develop an inter/national network to support the work being done by activists, academics, researchers, agencies and communities to stop the murders and disappearances of Indigenous women. Learn about the history of the women, families and communities who have been advocating for decades through this piece on It Starts With Us. Follow them on Twitter (@NoM0reSilence)
- Native Youth Sexual Health Network (NYSHN) is an organization by and for Indigenous youth that works across issues of sexual and reproductive health, rights and justice throughout the United States and Canada. Their work, recognizes how reclaiming sexuality is critical in ending sexual violence. Follow them on Twitter (@NYSHN) and Instagram (@NYSHN)
- The Annual Women’s Memorial March gathers annually on Valentine’s Day in resistance to express compassion, community and caring for all women in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, Unceded Coast Salish Territories, and to honour the lives of missing and murdered women and all women’s lives lost in the Downtown Eastside. Follow them on Facebook.
- Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre. DEWC members and elders, along with other Indigenous women leaders in the Downtown Eastside, have been advocating for over 30 years.
Over 100 women contributed to Red Women Rising: Indigenous Women Survivors in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, which was DEWC’s official submission to the National Inquiry as an organization with expert standing.
Martin, Carol and Walia, Harsha, Red Women Rising: Indigenous Women Survivors in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside,” Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre, 2019.
Follow them on Twitter (@DEWCVancouver) and Instagram (@DEWCVancouver)
- Vancouver Aboriginal Transformative Justice Services Society (VATJSS) has been working since 1998 to strengthen resiliency within the Indigenous community, providing justice, homelessness and outreach prevention services. Follow them on Twitter (@VATJSS) and Instagram (@VATJSS)
- Pacific Association of First Nations Women (PAFNW) has been advocating for systems change and making sure that all Indigenous women in BC are safe and respected with a sense of belonging and connection to cultural traditions. Follow them on Twitter (@PAFNW) and Instagram (@indigenous_women_rise)
Aboriginal Mother Centre Society (AMCS) has been providing a safe space for Aboriginal mothers, children and families since 2002 and dedicated to create a healing community. Follow them on Twitter (@amcs604) and Instagram (@aboriginalmothercentresociety)
- Indian Residential School Survivors Society (IRSSS) has been providing essential services to Residential School Survivors, their families, and those dealing with Intergenerational traumas. Follow them on Twitter (@IRSSurvivor) and Facebook
- First Nations Summit (FNS) provides a forum for First Nations in BC to address issues related to Title and Rights, Treaty Negotiations, and other issues of common concern. Follow them on Twitter (@FNSummit)
Urban Native Youth Association have played a transformational role in the lives of many Indigenous youth in Vancouver. Follow them on Twitter (@DEWCVancouver) and Instagram (@DEWCVancouver)
Battered Women Support Services (BWSS) has been standing in solidarity with Indigenous communities, actively doing coalition-building work and called for the National Inquiry and was a long-time member of the Women’s Memorial March Committee. Follow them on Twitter (@endingviolence) and Instagram (@endingviolence)
National Indigenous Women's Resource Center has been providing national leadership to the United States government to end violence against Native women by supporting culturally grounded, grassroots advocacy.
Follow them on Twitter (@niwrc) and Instagram (@niwrc)
Self-examination and our acts of reconciliation
As an organization, we have more work to do.
We recognize that allyship requires an examination of the structures and systems within which we work, that privilege some while oppressing others.
To help foster a culture of reconciliation across the YWCA and support the important work of Indigenous collaborators and community partners, we worked with Reciprocal Consulting to develop an organization-wide reconciliation framework. We have integrated calls to action from the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, as well as calls to action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s final report across the organization and annually measure our progress.
Our internal truth and reconciliation committee supports training for employees, who learn more about Canada’s colonial history and about the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s work in Canada. The committee also examines how the YWCA can work as an ally alongside Indigenous leaders and Indigenous women and girls in their pursuit of substantive equality.
If you need support, please reach out:
The KUU-US Crisis Line Society provides a First Nations and Indigenous-specific crisis line available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, toll-free from anywhere in British Columbia. The KUU-US Crisis Line can be reached toll-free at 1 800 588-8717. Alternatively, call direct into the Youth Line at 250 723-2040 or the Adult Line at 250 723-4050, or online: kuu-uscrisisline.com.
The Indian Residential School Survivors Society - British Columbia has opened their telephone support line for anyone requiring emotional assistance. Call toll-free at 1-800-721-0066.
A National Indian Residential School Crisis Line has also been set up to provide support for former Residential School students and those affected. Access emotional and crisis referral services by calling the 24-hour national crisis line: 1 866 925-4419.