#AMINEXT? New campaigns highlight struggle for MMIW

It is depressingly numbing every time another name of a missing and murdered Onkwehon:we woman is spotlighted in the media. But as the number of Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women (MMIW) increases, more people across the continent are partaking in grassroots community organizing, direct actions and other tactics to ensure that this important issue is not being swept under the rug.

The most recent online campaign to build support for a public inquiry into the number of MMIW in Canada erupted on twitter just 4 days ago. Holly Jarett, the cousin of Loretta Saunders, began an online photo campaign of Onkwehonkwe women holding signs asking “#AMINEXT?”, prompting hundreds more women to do the same. The resulting petition has reached the mainstream, currently totaling 322,531 signatures within the short time it has been available online.

Loretta’s body was found beside the Trans Canada highway near Muncton, NB. She was 3 months pregnant and she was researching the issue of MMIW on Turtle Island at St. Mary’s University in Halifax at the time of her murder.

The number of supporters behind a national inquiry doesn’t stop with the #AMINEXT campaign. Petitions demanding an inquiry are coming from all across Turtle Island as a wide variety of Native and non-native organizations and groups, from union groups to mainstream political parties.

In Toronto, some grassroots Anishinabek organizers have taken their signature collecting to the streets. On Sunday, September 7th, 2014 at 1pm, a group of people gathered at Yonge and Dundas square in Toronto to march and collect signatures for the petition. They were not operating under any specific organization, but they carried their drums and nation’s flags, as well as banners pertaining to MMIW. They gathered 775 signatures person-by-person, marching further south through downtown Toronto, and then headed north to Queen’s Park.

Unions and political parties such as the Liberals have also come out in support of the movement for an inquiry as well, creating a petition that can be accessed online. Justin Trudeau wrote the following statement online, above the Liberals petition: “Mr. Harper is on the wrong side of history. This issue requires national leadership and action to put an end to this violence.” It is overwhelming apparent that the issue is present on the world stage as people from Spain, Switzerland, Ireland, and Hungary signed the petition as well.


A Saskatchewan elder Cree Emil Bell began a 400-kilometre walk 2 weeks ago, stating Tina Fontaine’s murder sparked him to take action. Tina was only 15 years of age when she was found murdered in the Red River in Winnipeg. Numerous community rallies, solidarity marches, and direct actions continue to flare up across the nation in large urban centres, from Vancouver to Halifax, as well as locally.

On October 6th, 2014, at 5:00pm, at King and Main street in Hagersville the local 3rd Annual Never To Be Forgotten Vigil will take place. Signs, drums and shakers are most welcome for a peaceful vigil, followed by refreshments, speakers and songs will commence at the Buffalo Sundance grounds at 6:00pm.

Debates surrounding the benefit of a nation-wide inquiry have been circulating the media, causing discussions resulting in the conclusion that an inquiry is only the first step and may just be a band-aid solution. Almost two weeks ago Chelsea Vowel, a Metis writer and educator from Lac Ste. Anne, Alberta presented a plea surrounding the debate about the benefit of a national inquiry. “I would ask that people discussing these issues in the media not accept this dichotomy and not allow themselves to be divided into two camps: either in support of an inquiry or in support of ‘action’. We can and should be engaging in both.”

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