Walking a Path Never Alone - Nadzin Degagne

16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence: MMIWG

16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence: Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls

16 Days of Activism Against Gender-based Violence begins on November 25. This annual campaign beings with International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, and raises awareness each day until December 10, World Human Rights Day. During this time, we also recognize the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women, which remembers 14 young women who were murdered in an act of violent misogyny at Polytechnique Montréal on December 6, 1989. 

As we discussed our focus for the YWCA’s campaign this year, it was easily apparent that gender-based violence persists throughout society in many different forms. Perhaps most relentlessly, however, violence is directed toward Indigenous women and girls and 2SLGBTQQIA people. Too little is being done to stop it. 

For each of the 16 days, we highlight one of the 231 Calls for Justice from Reclaiming Power and Place, the Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. We attempt to demonstrate why it is important, what progress (if any) has been made and what each of us can do to collectively create change. 

Please follow along, share among your networks, reflect and take action to end gender-based violence. 


Banner image: Walking a Path; Never Alone by Nadzin Degagné | Gallery of Artistic Expressions


Calls directed at governments: 
MMIWG - Day1

Walk With Us and Bella Spirit | Drawing/Painting by Nicole Carpenter | Gallery of Artistic Expressions

Call for Justice 1.1: Develop and implement a National Action Plan to address violence against Indigenous women and girls. 


The National Inquiry called for the federal, provincial, territorial, municipal, and Indigenous governments, in partnership with Indigenous people, to develop and implement a plan that responds to the Calls for Justice. 


The federal government released its National Action Plan in 2021, with seven goals and 23 short-term priorities to address violence against Indigenous women and girls. Budget 2021 allocated $2.2 billion over five years to support the plan. 

  • As part of the Action Plan, British Columbia promised an initial $5.5M investment in 2021/22, with a commitment to additional, multi-year funding to support safety plan development, and training and education resources for the public service. 

In 2020, the City of Vancouver adopted the MMIWG2S report to develop and implement an action plan addressing the Calls for Justice.  

In 2022, Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) released a Scorecard on the Action Plan and issued a failing grade to the federal government, saying: 

“In total, the Federal Government outlined 30 actions in their National Action Plan. 16 saw some progress, while 14 saw no progress. However, there are a significant number of Calls for Justice that are completely unaddressed by their National Action Plan. This is unacceptable – the Calls for Justice are legal imperatives that the Federal Government must respond to. We must see action on every Call for Justice.” 

What you can do: 

  1. Read the National Action Plan

  1. Read NWAC’s Scorecard

  1. Reach out to your MP and ask them how they are prioritizing the National Action Plan in their work. 

  1. Explore the Redress Project: An Aesthetic Response to more than 1,000 Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women in Canada and consider hanging a red dress to highlight the issue. 

  1. Read Red Women Rising: Indigenous Women Survivors in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. 

  1. Encourage the City of Vancouver Mayor and Council to prioritize MMIWG2S in their budgeting process and continue to collaborate with the MMIWG2S Advisory Committee. 

“What is it about numbers? What do they tell us? Do they help us understand? One woman goes missing, then another, then another. For a long time only those who know and love them pay attention. Until the numbers start to add up…” - Finding Dawn (from What Their Stories Tell Us: Research Findings from the Sisters in Spirit Initiative) 

“The root cause of Indigenous women’s violence is colonization. When colonizers came, they started murdering our women. That’s the root of violence. Assimilation is genocide against our women, and they treat us as not worthy. Nuns told me I should have never been born.” - Sophie Merasty (from Red Women Rising: Indigenous Women Survivors in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside) 

“Bad people commit these horrible crimes against Native women, but it is the system that allows it to happen generation after generation.” - Malinda Limberhand, mother of Hanna Harris who was murdered in 2013 on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation.



MMIWG - Day2

Broken Woman | Drawing/Painting by Jessica Przeszlo | Gallery of Artistic Expressions

Call for Justice 1.2: Implement and fully comply with all relevant rights instruments (like United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples - UNDRIP and the 3rd Protocol to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child). 

International human rights instruments (like the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples - UNDRIP) are mechanisms to hold governments accountable because they position Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA people as rights holders to whom Canada has obligations, such as ensuring safety and security. 

Status on UNDRIP: 

On June 21, 2021, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act received Royal Assent. The Act requires the Government of Canada, in consultation with Indigenous peoples, to prepare an action plan that includes measures to address injustices, combat prejudice and eliminate all forms of violence and discrimination against Indigenous people. 

British Columbia passed the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act into law in November 2019, establishing UNDRIP as the provincial government’s framework for reconciliation. 

The City of Vancouver endorsed the UNDRIP Task Force report on October 25, 2022, which reiterates the importance of addressing the Calls for Justice and supporting meaningful participation from women, Elders, and Two-Spirit people in the implementation. 

 What you can do: 


MMIWG - Day3

Courage | Collage print by Susan Weber | Gallery of Artistic Expressions

Call for Justice 1.3: Pursue the measures required to eliminate the social, economic, cultural, and political marginalization of Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA people when developing budgets and determining priorities. 

During the National Inquiry process, it became clear that "deliberate actions and inactions of all levels of governments” were contributing to violence and harm against Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA people. For example, the federal government delayed releasing its MMIWG Action Plan, citing the COVID-19 pandemic. Meanwhile, frontline service providers were reporting escalating incidences of violence against women and girls.  

If governments take the actions recommended in 1.1 and 1.2 (developing a national action plan and committing to international protocols for the rights and protections of women and girls, respectively), they must allocate resources through bold financial commitments. Further, when building budgets that determine the fiscal year, and in building programming, safety and violence prevention must be a priority line item. 


In Budget 2021, $1B (out of $2.2B over five years) was promised in two separate streams that would address the human security and well-being for Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people; $139M (over five years) to ensure equal access, without racism or discrimination, to health, wellness, and social programs; and $861M (over five years) to ensure human security and safety through funding commitments in Indigenous-led community safety services and models, as well as in First Nations police programs. 

This money is “slowly being released without a detailed, costed, and actionable implementation plan.” No additional funding was announced in Budget 2022.  

As former commissioner Qajag Robinson states: “They must do more than show you the Budgets that they’ve spent, and the line items attached. They must be prepared to show you how it has affected people’s lives.” 

What we want to see: 

According to the Assembly of First Nation’s report, Breathing Life Into the Call for Justice, “Almost all the actions required for the 231 Calls for Justice call for increases in funding and resources. This is one of the most important aspects to implementing the Calls for Justice.” 

A transparent, efficient funding model, that measures outcomes, created alongside Indigenous leaders and community workers who know where best to direct money, is needed.

What you can do: 

  • Monitor federal, provincial and municipal budgets each year and remain informed regarding funding promises.  
  • Vote for representatives who are committed to reconciliation and the implementation of the Calls for Justice. 
  • Encourage your elected officials to review Reclaiming Power and Place and prioritize the Calls for Justice in their work.  


MMIWG - Day4

Sister Drummer in Faded Red | Drawing/Painting by Jason Sikoak | Gallery of Artistic Expressions

Call for Justice 1.4: Ensure that Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people are represented in governance. 


The National Inquiry called upon all governments to equitably support and promote the role of Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people in governance and leadership. These efforts must include the development of policies and procedures to protect them against sexism, homophobia, transphobia, and racism within political life.  

Why is representation so important? Because this is one of the best ways to ensure the unique needs and perspectives of Indigenous women are considered during decision-making, whether about policy, funding, or services.  


In response to the input shared by survivors, families, and community members in the National Action Plan, the BC government acknowledged key components that are critical for success when it comes to representation. These include: 

  • ‘Re-centering’ Indigenous women 
  • Increased community capacity, and recognition of the agency of Indigenous communities 

Some progress has been made: in 2019, women represented 27% of First Nations councillors across BC, up from 21% in 1992. 

As part of the goal to address the broader root cause of violence against Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people, the National Action Plan included a strategy to support Indigenous-led initiatives to access cultural knowledge and 2SLGBTQQIA+ programs and services. As part of this initiative, the Assembly of First Nations passed a resolution that will establish a 2SLGBTQ Council in the organization’s governance structure. 

What you can do:  

  1. Support local Indigenous and 2SLGBTQQIA+ businesses to show support for their economic strength and independence.  

  1. Email your local MPs and ask for statistics on diversity and representation.  

  1. Stay informed by observing statistics on representation across your local government. 

  1. Vote for Indigenous representatives in municipal, provincial, and federal elections. 

  1. Review and endorse the City of Vancouver UNDRIP Task Force report and MMIWG2S report, both of which call for First Nations representation on the City of Vancouver’s Police Board.   

 “They may not be holding our hands, and that’s not what we want. We just need to know there are people who are in positions of influence that will help us bring the message out there that things like this have to stop.” - Randy Bird (from Honouring Their Voices – The National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls) 


MMIWG - Day5

Missing | Poetry/Spoken Word by Ben Richard | Gallery of Artistic Expressions

Call for Justice 1.6: Eliminate jurisdictional gaps that result in the denial of services, or improperly regulated and delivered services, that address the marginalization of, and violence against, Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA people. 

Jurisdictional neglect happens when Indigenous people and communities cannot access services (like health care or financial support) because of a lack of coordination or cooperation among different levels of government. The final report describes it as “falling through the cracks.” For many survivors and families, barriers to receiving services further contributes to colonial-related trauma. 

Jurisdictional gaps are a national issue that need to be collaboratively addressed between federal, provincial, territorial, and First Nations. As it stands, access to services is frequently stalled due to seemingly small issues, like a person’s change in location on or off reserve.  

“The chain of events that follows can easily lead to increased gender-based violence. For example, First Nations women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people are often forced to leave their communities and move to the city in the hopes of gaining access to better education, employment, and opportunities and services not available within their First Nations. Once in urban areas, they feel disconnected from their family and community supports and they become targets for gender-based violence.  

“The lack of resources in remote First Nations is an even greater problem. Many remote [communities] have higher costs of living; food, transportation, cell phone service, and internet connectivity are exponentially more expensive and difficult to access. Immediate action is needed on the part of the federal government to provide stable and regionally equitable funding that reflects the difference in the cost of living for First Nations across Canada.” 

What we want to see:  

To increase wellbeing and safety, and as the Action Plan states, “all levels of government must work in partnership with First Nations and develop First Nations-led solutions that are reflective of their unique history, context, and lived reality. Long term sustainable funding that results in preventative action will require First Nations to be engaged so that their unique needs are met.” 

What you can do: 

  • Representation matters: vote for Indigenous candidates in municipal, provincial and federal elections. 
  • Support the City of Vancouver’s UNDRIP Task Force and MMIWG2S reports, which call for greater public transparency and accountability of federal, provincial, and municipal funding for preventative services in addressing violence against MMIWG2S. 


MMIWG - Day6

In My Heart | Decorative/Traditional Arts by Hermina Joldersma | Gallery of Artistic Expressions

Call for Justice 2.6: Develop and implement an Anti-Racism and Anti-Sexism National Action Plan to end racist and sexualized stereotypes of Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA people. 


Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people face ongoing racism and sexism in various forms, including when interacting with health care systems and social services. Many systems lack cultural safety and understanding, and acceptance of Indigenous health and healing models. 


In Budget 2021, the federal government allocated $2.2B over five years to respond to the ongoing genocide of MMIWG2S. This includes $139B over five years to ensure equal access, without racism or discrimination, to health, wellness, and social programs. 

One barrier to achieving this goal is that some funding is designated to support racialized communities more broadly, which makes it difficult to know how much money is actually being allocated to Indigenous women, Two-Spirit, transgender, and gender-diverse people specifically. 

“While we have seen some action through funding earmarked in Budget 2021 for public education, awareness campaigns as well as trauma-informed training for those working with Indigenous people to address racism, more is still needed. Notably, we need to see an identifiable focus on MMIWG2S and increased transparency and accountability.” (NWAC’s Federal Annual Score Card Page 9). 

“The federal government implemented an Anti-Racism Strategy (2019-2022) and earmarked an investment of $3.3M for a National Public Education and Awareness Campaign, based on regional and demographic needs that will be informed and developed with impacted communities and Indigenous Peoples. 

“A further $5M has been dedicated to support community-led digital and civic literacy programming to address online disinformation and hate speech.  

“It is unclear what allocations there are to address MMIWG2S specifically.” - The Federal Annual Scorecard for MMIWG2S 2021 

What you can do:  

  1. Inform yourself on how to spot racism; it is not always obvious but can appear in microaggressions, exclusions or jokes.  

  1. Be the change you want to see. When you see racism, challenge the behaviour but not the person. Encourage thoughtful dialogue to address the issue. 

  1. Educate yourself on Canada’s history of racism and oppression against Indigenous communities. In order to move forward, it is essential to confront our past.  

“Of all of the hurtful experiences associated with the vanishing of a loved one, one of the most is the racism displayed when our First Nations loved ones disappear. We hear things like “I heard she was just a party animal,” or, “Was she wanted by the cops?” Or, the worst of all, that she “lived a high-risk lifestyle.” These labels have taught mainstream society that all our women and girls are just that – prostitutes, addicts and hitchhikers, and therefore not worthy of care or effort.” - Vanish by Gladys Radek, The Final Report of the National Inquiry Into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls 


MMIWG - Day7

In My Heart | Decorative/Traditional Arts by Hermina Joldersma | Gallery of Artistic Expressions

Call for Justice 3.5: Establish culturally competent and responsive crisis response teams in all communities and regions, to meet the immediate needs of an Indigenous person, family and/or community after a traumatic event, alongside ongoing support. 

What is cultural competence and why is it important?  

First, we need to recognize that we all have a human right to participate in our culture. According to Reclaiming Power and Place, this includes “the right to know, understand, visit, make use of, maintain, exchange, and develop cultural heritage and cultural expressions.” (Page 119) 

In a pluralist society like Canada, there are many different cultures, but one dominant culture has shaped our interactions with systems, like healthcare and justice. This can have profound consequences for how services are experienced by different people.  

Cultural competence is one way to address this. The authors of Culturally Proficient Inquiry define cultural competence as “the capacity to interact compassionately, sensitively and effectively with people of different cultures.”  

The Assembly of First Nations says practicing cultural competence: 

  • Increases inclusiveness, accessibility and equity; 
  • Promotes human rights and the elimination of systemic biases and barriers; 
  • Ensures services are reflective of and responsive to a diversity of communities; 
  • Creates a climate where discrimination and oppressive attitudes and behaviours are not tolerated; 
  • Values cultural differences; and 
  • Demonstrates personal responsibility and accountability. 

Insights gained during the Truth-Gathering Process revealed important truths about the ways in which Indigenous survivors, families, and communities have been ignored and mistreated by the systems and people who were supposed to protect and support them. As a way forward, they demand the incorporation of services and processes that empower Indigenous Peoples, saying: “The creation of cultural safety requires, at a minimum, the inclusion of Indigenous languages, laws and protocols, governance, spirituality, and religion.” 

What you can do to practice cultural competence: 

  • Explore and assess your own tendencies to express stereotypes or biases. 
  • Learn how your own culture may influence how you react to the culture of others. 
  • Value diversity, accept and respect differences in point of view, experiences, and relationships. 
  • Be open to understanding and working with Indigenous individuals and groups. 
  • Share insights into cultural knowledge with friends, family, and colleagues. 
  • Incorporate knowledge of Indigenous perspectives into practices at school or work. 

What you can do: 

  1. Read In Plain Sight and In Her Words, two reports that detail systemic racism in BC health care. 

  1. Explore AFN's Toolkit on Cultural Competency 

  1. Read Implementing Indigenous Gender-Based Analysis in Research: Principles, Practices and Lessons Learned 


MMIWg - Day8

Sisters in Strength | Installation by Women participating in the 1st Annual Sister in Strength Wellness Retreat | Gallery of Artistic Expressions

Call for Justice 5.18: Consider violence against Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA people as an aggravating factor at sentencing, and amend the Criminal Code accordingly, with the passage and enactment of Bill S-215. 

Bill S-215 was introduced in 2015 by Senator Lillian Eva Dyck, with the intention to recognize that crimes against Indigenous women are distinct, are rooted in colonialism, and should therefore be considered categorically separate when deciding on punishment for the perpetrator. The Bill was designed to ensure that crimes against Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA people required a unique lens when determining justice, and that violent offenders who harm Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA people be punished with consideration of this factor. 

Despite the federal government clearly acknowledging and conclusively measuring that violence against Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA people is disproportionate, pervasive and persistent, this Bill was defeated at the second reading in the House of Commons on April 10, 2019. 

The following statistics (StatsCan, April 2022) demonstrate the need for better protections to prevent violence specifically against Indigenous women and girls. 

  • Almost six in ten (56%) Indigenous women have experienced physical assault while almost half (46%) of Indigenous women have experienced sexual assault. In comparison, about a third of non-Indigenous women have experienced physical assault (34%) or sexual assault (33%) in their lifetime. 

  • About two-thirds of First Nations (64%) and Métis (65%) women have experienced violent victimization in their lifetime. 

This federal report states in several different ways that ongoing colonialism and deeply entrenched systemic racism continues to result in targeted violence.  

What we want to see: 

Reintroducing and passing Bill S-215 (or similar legislation) would be a tangible, effective way to reduce violent crime against Indigenous women and girls, and would be a show of good faith that government takes measures toward reconciliation seriously. 

Following the Bill’s defeat, the Native Women’s Association of Canada responded with the following statement. “Words and promises are meaningless without action. Reconciliation is not achieved through empty promises. Indigenous women have been denied justice in the colonial system for far too long, and we will not forget or stand by quietly while it continues to happen.” 

Calls to Action: 

  • Read the debate over the deciding vote to more deeply understand the Bill. **violent trigger warning 

  • Contact your elected representatives and encourage a re-tabling of Bill S-125 or one similar to it 

  • Establish a separate federal and provincial oversight task force made up of various Indigenous gender-diverse experts to ensure the implementation of the Calls to Justice for MMIWG2S at all levels of government 


MMIWG - Day9

Stolen Sisters Book | Novel translated by Susan Ouriou and Christelle Morelli | Gallery of Artistic Expressions

Call for Justice 4.6: Commence construction of new housing and the provision of repairs for existing housing to meet the housing needs of Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA people. 


This construction and provision of repairs must ensure that Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people have access to housing that is safe, appropriate to geographic and cultural needs, and looks to close the housing gap between Indigenous people and non-Indigenous Canadians. 


The 2021 federal budget committed to an investment of $6B over five years, starting in 2021-22, with $388.9M ongoing, toward improving infrastructure in Indigenous communities, which includes housing, clean drinking water and road. 

“We have seen some progress through funding commitments, but these commitments still fall short of recommendations to end the ongoing housing crisis in Indigenous communities. Transparency on progress in distributing these funding allocations is also still needed, especially those outlined in Budget 2021 as housing was included under a broad category.” - Federal Annual Scorecard for MMIWG2S 2021 

Call for Justice 4.7: Support the establishment and long-term sustainable funding of Indigenous-led low-barrier shelters, safe spaces, transition homes, second- stage housing and services for Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA people. Ensure that shelters, transitional housing, second-stage housing and services are appropriate to cultural needs, and available wherever Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA people reside. 


This Call is to ensure that Indigenous women and 2SLGBTQQIA people who are homeless, near homeless, dealing with food insecurity, or in poverty, and who are fleeing violence or have been subjected to sexualized violence and exploitation, have safe spaces to go. As stated in NWAC’s Indigenous Housing: Policy and Engagement Final Report (p.17), “Ample evidence demonstrates that Indigenous women and girls are more likely to experience homelessness or housing insecurity than non-Indigenous women.”  


“Through Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation, there have been the following investments: $724.1M for a comprehensive Violence Prevention Strategy to support new shelters and transitional housing for Indigenous people $420M over five years to support the construction of new shelters and transitional housing. 

"Indigenous Services Canada also committed $304.1M over five years, and $96.6M  annually, to support operational costs for new shelters and second stage/transitional housing, as well as the expansion of culturally-relevant violence prevention activities through the Family Violence Prevention Program.   

"Once again, progress on the distribution of this funding is not clear, but this funding is specific to violence prevention and MMIWG2S.” - 2022 MMIWG2S Federal Action Plan | Annual Scorecard Page  

“It’s got to be the government communicating with the different communities on all the issues that surround those communities, whether it be water, whether it be land, whether it be suicides, whether it be missing persons, whether it be housing, whether it be lack of resources. The government has to start listening.” - Grandmother Blu (or Istchii Nikamoon, meaning Earth Song), The National Inquiry Elders and Grandmothers Circle 

What you can do: 

  1. Educate yourself on the challenges Indigenous women and 2SLGBTQQIA people face with housing security.  

“Research focusing on Indigenous people’s experiences of homelessness and housing insecurity must be rooted in an understanding that these experiences are complex, multifaceted, and influenced by an array of historical, political, socio-economic, and intersectional factors.” - NWAC Indigenous Housing: Policy and Engagement Final Report 

  1. Encourage MPs to have a federal housing advocate to better address the human rights violations of Indigenous women, girls and families that are homeless.  

  2. Volunteer at local women’s shelters.   

  3. Donate food and clothes to women’s charities. 


MMIWG - Day10

Til Victory (Winged Victory Invincible Woman | Drawing/Painting by Annie Ross | Gallery of Artistic Expressions

Call for Justice 5.24: Amend data collection and intake-screening processes to gather distinctions-based and intersectional data about Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA people. 

Data justice advocates, particularly from BIPOC communities, have long been calling on governments and service providers to practice an intersectional approach to data collection. Why? Because data is a powerful tool to help us better understand how different groups of people experience inequalities, and to track the effectiveness of policy and funding interventions that are meant to address them. One of the most powerful ways to do this is through disaggregated data collection.  

Aggregate vs. Disaggregate data 

Aggregate data combines and summarizes information, whereas disaggregate data separate aggregated data into separate points or pieces of information. Disaggregating data can help us gain a deeper understanding of various subsets within a larger dataset. 

According to BC’s Office of the Human Rights Commissioner: 

“Disaggregated data is important because when policy, practices and laws are based on statistics, silences and omissions in data can cost human lives, human well-being and human rights. On the other hand, collecting data can cause numerous harms if not done well.” 

To better understand the difference between aggregate and disaggregate data, take the example of internet connectivity coverage in BC: 

While 94% of households in British Columbia have access to the internet, that percentage plummets to 38% for households in Indigenous communities. This tells a powerful story of ongoing inequities across our province. 

In response to advocacy efforts, both the provincial and federal governments have committed to the collection of Indigenous, race-based and other disaggregated data as a way to address systemic racism and discrimination.  

In May, 2022, BC Introduced the Anti-Racism Data Act, which became law the following month. This new legislation was informed by a report published by the Office of BC’s Human Rights Commissioner in 2021 entitled “Disaggregated demographic data collection in British Columbia: The grandmother perspective.” The Act was also developed with support from Indigenous leadership to ensure the legislation upholds Indigenous Peoples’ right to data self-governance.  

Learn more about disaggregated data: 

  1. Read the Grandmother Perspective report 

  1. Read about BC’s Anti-Racism Data Act 


Calls for Justice for All Canadians 
MMIWG - Day11

Fanshawe College Collection | Installation by Students at Fanshawe College | Gallery of Artistic Expressions

Call for Justice 15.1: Denounce and speak out against violence against Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA people. 

Call for Justice 5.5: Confront and speak out against racism, sexism, ignorance, homophobia and transphobia, and teach or encourage others to do the same, wherever it occurs: in your home, in your workplace, or in social settings. 

What does this look like? 

Jody Wilson-Raybould writes in Here’s What True Reconciliation Looks Like that there are three core practices of true reconciliation: learn, understand, act. In order to combat racism and be an ally of Indigenous people, you need to understand the issues that they have faced and continue to face. It is important to listen to people’s lived experiences and give space for them to be heard. Only when we understand the suffering can we properly combat racism by speaking out against bigotry and educating those in our circles on issue when they arise.   


A number of course and training opportunities for public servants on topics such as history, culture, issues, anti-racism, anti-sexism, antihomophobia, and anti-transgender, are outlined in the Government of Canada’s School of Public Service’s course catalogue.  

Whether these are trauma-informed programs is unclear and there is no dedicated public education/awareness campaign on MMIWG2S. Tracking of this progress is needed and access to these programs needs to be given to all Canadians.  

There was an investment of $4.6M to establish the Federal Anti-Racism Secretariat within the Department of Canadian Heritage, but there was no identifiable focus on MMIWG2S. 

“We want a working relationship with the rest of society. This is our land. We want to have a good working relationship. We welcomed everybody in. And what are they doing to us? Our young mothers are going missing. Our young mothers are being murdered at an astronomical rate, more than any other race in this country.” - Gladys R, ‘Why Human Rights?’, Final Report of the National Inquiry for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls 

“We know that they’ve been called prostitutes, drug addicts. And then there’s always the polite terminology, which is coded, racially coded, like ‘at-risk,’ or those kinds of things. There’s ways of people washing their hands as if to say, ‘Well… that has really nothing to do with us.’ They’ve caused their own disappearances. They’ve contributed to their own disappearances, and/or rapes, and/or murders, by their personal behaviours – by the way that they are dressed, by what they were doing, by being Indigenous, and by being women. Many people don’t see the system as violence. But in fact, missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls is the result of imposed poverty, legal and individual racism, discrimination and the patriarchy.” - Grandmother Leslie, Understanding and Restoring Power and Place, Final Report of the National Inquiry for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls 


MMIWG - Day 12

Disconnect | Drawing/Painting by Erika Richard | Gallery of Artistic Expressions

Call for Justice 15.2: Decolonize by learning the true history of Canada and Indigenous history in your local area. Learn about and celebrate Indigenous peoples' history, cultures, pride and diversity, acknowledging the land you live on and its importance to local Indigenous communities, both historically and today. 

“This history is not your fault. But it is absolutely your responsibility.” - Nikki Sanchez, author and decolonial educator 

What is decolonization?  

In Reclaiming Power and Place, the authors refer to decolonization as a “social and political process” that aims to undo the impacts of colonization and re-establish traditional values, philosophies, and knowledge systems.  

For settlers, decolonization can involve:  

  • Learning about the history and impacts of colonization in Canada (for example, did you know that Canada’s last residential school closed in 1996?) 
  • Challenging assumptions and using a critical lens when taking in new information on social media and in the news 
  • Learning about the history of the lands you are on. For example, 95% of British Columbia is considered unceded, meaning that the land was never legally given up to the Crown through a treaty or other agreement
  • Locating yourself in relationship and responsibility to the lands you are on. Ask yourself, as an uninvited guest on unceded or First Nations territory, what responsibility do you have to the local ecosystem? 
  • Read the works of Indigenous authors, watch films by Indigenous directors and engage with work by Indigenous artists

What you can do: 

  1. Watch Nikki Sanchez’s 10-minute TedxSFU talk on decolonization: https://www.orangepath.ca/resources/decolonization-is-for-everyone 

  1. Explore AFN’s learning modules: https://education.afn.ca/afntoolkit/learning-modules/ 

  1. Review the Decolonization Handbook and implement decolonization strategies for yourself, your community and the First Nation territory that you may reside on. 

MMIWG - Day13

Community Art Piece | Installation by Jessica Slater and survivors and families of MMIWG during the Vancouver Community Hearing | Gallery of Artistic Expressions

Call for Justice 15.3: Develop knowledge and read the Final Report. Listen to the truths shared, and acknowledge the burden of these human and Indigenous rights violations, and how they impact Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people today. 

Reading and understanding the Final Report is one way of honouring and showing respect to families and survivors of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, and Two-Spirit, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning, Intersex, and Asexual Plus (2SLGBTQQIA+) people, matriarchs, leaders, grandmothers, mothers, aunties, sisters, cousins, and friends. It is one thing to know that these atrocities are transpiring, but it is another to read the words of the people who are directly affected.  

“I hope that knowing these truths will contribute to a better understanding of the real lives of Indigenous people and the violations of their human and Indigenous rights when they are targeted for violence. The truth is that we live in a country whose laws and institutions perpetuate violations of basic human and Indigenous rights.” - Chief Commissioner Marion Buller 

What you can do:

Read The Rez Sisters – a play by Cree writer Tomson Highway, which reflects the multiple oppressions faced by Indigenous women and girls.  


MMIWG - Day 14

Red River Drift Wood by Mylinda Gislason | Gallery of Artistic Expressions

Call for Justice 15.4: Using what you have learned and some of the resources suggested, become a strong ally. Being a strong ally involves more than just tolerance; it means actively working to break down barriers and to support others in every relationship and encounter in which you participate. 

Some steps to becoming an ally to Indigenous women and 2SLGBTQQIA: 

Betty Ann Pottruff described the need to build trusting relationships as a fundamental step in protecting and respecting Indigenous women, girls, 2SLGBTQQIA people, and their families. 

“People have to feel they’re in a safe environment in which they can – they can say what they want to say, even if what they have to say, you know, might be hard to hear. There’s got to be … safety in … who you’re dealing with, and in understanding that your view is going to be respected, you’re going to be listened to, and – and every member there is – is of the same value. Everyone is to be respected and – and treated as equals.” Final Report p.715 


MMIWG - Day15

Unspoken Words | Decorative/Traditional Arts by Mikhayla Patterson in collaboration with the second year students of the Social Work Program at MadEwan University | Gallery of Artistic Expressions

Call for Justice 15.6: Protect, support and promote the safety of women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people by acknowledging and respecting the value of every person and every community, as well as the right of Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people to generate their own, self-determined solutions. 

In Reclaiming Power and Place, members of the National Inquiry’s Elders and Grandmothers Circle shared their perspectives on what it means to value every person. Central to this is the idea that women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people are “sacred”.  

Elder Laureen “Blu” Waters, Grandmother to Commissioner Brian Eyolfson, explains: 

“For me, one of the lessons I learned was that in Creation, the Creator made us and we’re all gifts. We carry gifts within ourselves and each one of us has our own unique gifts. But, together as communities, when we share those gifts, we’re very rich. It’s more valuable than any monetary means can be, because we know, and we can understand, and we can help each other, and we can take care of each other, and support and know what the right things are to do.”  

Elder Blu goes on to say: 

“Women are the life-givers, but women are not going to be life-givers without men. So, that’s a balance in life. Our Two-Spirited people bring that balance again, of masculine and femininity. Our lives are not about our sexuality or even our gender identity, it’s about us being a human being. It’s about us following those teachings that our ancestors put in place for us, those teachings of kindness and respect, truth, honesty, humility, love, wisdom, about living those ways of life. Trying to look at each other as a valuable portion of a community, what gifts does that person have to bring to the table, so that we can become a very rich table, right?” 

What you can do:

  1. Read the section “Our Women and Girls Are Sacred: Reflections from the National Inquiry Elders and Grandmothers Circle” in Reclaiming Power and Place (Pages 33–47) 

  1. Watch A Tribe Called Red’s performance honouring missing and murdered Indigenous women https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q_vqlZJofo0 


MMIWG - Day 16

Memorial for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls | Sculpture by Mary Ann Grainger | Gallery of Artistic Expressions

Call for Justice 15.7: Create time and space for relationships based on respect as human beings, supporting and embracing differences with kindness, love and respect. Learn about Indigenous principles of relationship specific to those Nations or communities in your local area and work, and put them into practice in all of your relationships with Indigenous peoples. 

It is important to enter into relationships with an open heart and a curious mind to learn about what makes people who they are on a deeper level. One’s beliefs, history, and cultural backgrounds have a significant impact on how they live their daily lives. For a prosperous future, it is necessary to embrace our differences and learn from one another.  

For Indigenous communities, we must take time to understand the significance of cultural heritage, such as language knowledge and preservation, gift giving, traditional housing and land husbandry, and the struggles these communities face in achieving access to these rights due to past and present colonial laws.  

For greater understanding, read the First People’s Cultural Council’s report of federal and provincial legislation impacting Indigenous heritage in British Columbia: https://fpcc.ca/resource/legislation-on-indigenous-heritage

“...most Indigenous societies place cultural knowledge at the heart of Indigenous world views. Within our framework, women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people’s right to culture and identity connects to their roles and responsibilities as leaders and teachers within communities.” - Final Report P.120 


Funding has been earmarked in Budgets 2021 and 2022 to support cultural knowledge and 2SLGBTQQIA+ programs (and the funds are being released).

There is, once again, an overall lack of transparency in how some of these funds have been announced or released, and what impact they have made at the community level. (Federal Annual Scorecard p.9) 




  1. 2021 Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA+National Action plan 


  1. Assembly of First Nations 

  1. Assembly of First Nations 2021 

  1. City of Vancouver: Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls  

  1. Federal Annual Scorecard 

  1. Federal Pathway to Address Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ People 

  1. First Nations Housing Government of Canada 

  1. Gender Results Framework: Statistics Canada  

  1. Government of British Columbia: Anti-Racism FAQs 

  1. Here’s what true reconciliation looks like 

  1. Honouring Their Voices 

  1. Reclaiming Power and Place: The Final Report of the National Inquiry into 

  1. Red Women Rising: Indigenous Women Survivors in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside 

  1. MMIWG Call to Justice  

  1. Native Women’s Association of Canada: Donate 

  1. NWAC’s 2022 MMIWG2S Federal Action Plan Annual Scorecard 

  1. NWAC Indigenous Housing: Policy and Engagement Final Report to Indigenous Services Canada 

  1. UNDRIP Task Force Provides Final Report to City of Vancouver Council 

  1. United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples 

  1. What Their Stories Tell Us: Research Findings from the Sisters in Spirit Initiative