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National campaign will document missing or slain native women

Vancouver Province
By Suzanne Fournier

March 19, 2004

They want to put a face to every name on a list of 500 missing or murdered aboriginal women from across Canada.

KUKDOOKAA TERRI BROWN: her sister died after a violent assault

The year-long Sisters in Spirit national campaign by the Native Women’s Association of Canada will be launched Monday in several cities, including Vancouver, to document each aboriginal woman who disappeared or died a violent death in the past two decades.

Amnesty International has paid Bev Jacobs, a Mohawk academic from Ontario, to travel to reserves and cities across Canada to meet relatives of aboriginal women and to seek answers from police, hospitals and court records.

The research and its goals will be presented May 10 at the United Nations forum on indigenous peoples in New York.

The campaign’s main goals are to get Ottawa to contribute $10 million to programs aimed at halting violence against aboriginal women, to raise awareness of the issues and get action from police, medical officials, courts and "our own leaders," said NWAC president Kukdookaa Terri Brown.

"Our women are being preyed upon because their poverty has forced them to live in dangerous situations, where predators know they’re vulnerable and there won’t be a huge outcry if aboriginal women go missing," said Brown.

"After residential schools and foster homes, we are losing another generation of our people, this time to violence."

Brown said the Sisters in Spirit campaign is also backed and partly funded by the United and Anglican churches.

Brown’s own sister Ada, who she calls "our beloved baby girl, the youngest of eight in our family," died in 2001 in Prince George after a violent assault. No one has been charged.

"The number of 500 missing or murdered First Nations women seems staggering but we know think that number is conservative, that a lot of deaths and disappearances haven’t been added to official lists," said Brown.

The "Highway of Tears" list of murder victims along Highway 16 in northern B.C. is officially six, for example, but Brown said NWAC’s research from talking to Tsimshian, Gitksan and Nisga’a people has found 31 missing women.

Five of six "official" victims found missing or killed along the 900-kilometre highway were native women aged 15 to 24.

In Vancouver on Monday, women from NWAC, Helping Spirit Lodge and Battered Women’s Support Services will hold a traditional ceremonial burning at Crab Park at 4 p.m. followed by a feast at the Carnegie Centre.

sfournier@png.canwest.com

Courtesy of

Sisters in Spirit

Vanished-Somewhere along the highway of tears-July 14, 2002

 

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Updated: August 21, 2016